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Postmatch Recap and Analysis: Inter 1-0 Sassuolo

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Inter host Sassuolo and get their first victory of the year at home.

Samuel captains Inter as the Nerazzurri celebrate their first win of the year.
Samuel captains Inter as the Nerazzurri celebrate their first win of the year.
Claudio Villa

On a beautiful winter night, Inter were hosting newly promoted side, Sassuolo.  Their first match up this season resulted in a favorable Nerazzurri win but since that round much had happened making Inter more vulnerable and possibly susceptible to a loss at home.  Ownership changes, poor form, inconsistent performances, a transfer market with a couple of collapsed deals, and the recent departure of Sporting Director, Marco Branca, were more than enough to occupy the minds of Inter supporters.

Aside from the high drama surrounding Inter and with the transfer market zaniness finally behind the home side, the debut of Hernanes was something that many Interisti were looking forward to prior to kickoff.  Although he purportedly came with a hefty price tag, the Brazilian international was a player that Inter needed right now.  Hernanes was a midfielder who could play in a variety of roles, both defensive and attacking.  With Alvarez and Cambiasso out with injury and Kovacic struggling to break in consistently into Mazzarri's starting XI, it would be interesting to see who the Inter boss chose to accompany the Brazilian in his first appearance for the black and blue.

A look at the beautiful Giuseppe Meazza stadium on this cold winter evening in Milano via @inter.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23InterSassuolo&amp;src=hash">#InterSassuolo</a>: ci vediamo a San Siro con questo cielo meraviglioso! <a href="http://t.co/Uefof4Ibfy">http://t.co/Uefof4Ibfy</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23FCIM&amp;src=hash">#FCIM</a> <a href="http://t.co/qjsdU1JLpZ">pic.twitter.com/qjsdU1JLpZ</a></p>&mdash; inter.it (@inter) <a href="https://twitter.com/inter/statuses/432568015071096832">February 9, 2014</a></blockquote>

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Official Lineups from the Inter site:

Inter XI (3-5-2):  Handanovic; Rolando, Samuel, Juan Jesus; Jonathan, Guarin, Kuzmanovic, Hernanes, Nagatomo; Palacio, Milito

Substitutes:  Castellazzi, Carrizo, Zanetti, Andreolli, Icardi, Kovacic, Campagnaro, Mudingayi, Botta, Taider, Ranocchia, D'Ambrosio

Coach:  Walter Mazzarri

Sassuolo XI (3-5-2):  Pegolo, Bianco, Cannavaro, Ariaudo, Rosi, Brighi, Marrone, Biondini, Longhi, Berardi, Floccari

Substitutes:  Pomini, Polito, Pucino, Antei, Missiroli, Zaza, Sansone, Gazzola, Chibsah, Farias, Floro Flores, Ziegler

Coach:  Alberto Malesani

Officials:  Peruzzo, Liberti, Paganessi, Schenone, De Marco, Cervellera

Match Summary:

Inter started with a familiar formation of 3-5-2 with Handanovic in goal; a three man backline of Rolando, Samuel, and Juan Jesus; a five man midfield of Jonathan, Guarin, Kuzmanovic, Hernanes, and Nagatomo; with a strike force of Palacio slightly behind and supporting Milito up top.

Samuel captained the Nerazzurri side as he had returned to full fitness and anchored the three man defense in the center with the re-entry of Guarin and Hernanes' debut in the midfield completing the changes from last week's clash in the Derby d'Italia.

The home side started off the match attacking and pressing deeply into Sassuolo's half as they looked to take advantage of the bottom dwellers as they had on their previous meeting.  Inter relied once again on a plethora of over the top balls in hopes of connecting with their Argentine striker duo of Palacio and Milito.

While the Nerazzurri side tried to capitalize on dominant ball possession, they looked a bit out of sync as stray passes were not reaching the intended targets.  The passes were slightly ahead or behind the players which may allude to the need for more familiarity unsurprising when one considers the many injuries Inter players have faced thus far.  With the re-entry of Samuel and Milito from injury, as well as Guarin reappearing back into the starting lineup (as the market mishap seemed to have died down), it seemed that more quality players were available albeit in need of more playing time together.

Guarin played with an intensity and focus that had been missing in games past, a welcome sign for Inter supporters as there were more cheers than jeers for him as he played for the home side.

Hernanes showed his quality early in the game as he connected the defense with the attack through a strong midfield presence.

In the 23rd minute, Sassuolo midfielder, Biondini gingerly limped off the pitch thus necessitating Maselani to make his first substitute of the match where Chibsah made an appearance.

Aside from the dominant ball possession from the home side infused with the infrequent counter attack by the away side, action in between the visiting goal posts did not begin to truly get interesting until late in the first half.

In the 41st minute,  Palacio made a beautiful run and laid the ball for Milito who unfortunately could only elicit a save from the Sassuolo goalkeeper.

Another fantastic opportunity presented itself in the 42nd minute as Palacio flew down the right side trying to connect with Milito but Pegolo once again stopped the threat of goal.

The last chance by the home side happened in the 44th minute of the first half as both Guarin and Palacio tried to strike for goal but unfortunately for Interisti the half drew to a close with a score line of 0-0.

Inter picked up in the second half where they left off, attacking deep in the away side's box.  Finally, after a multitude of missed chances, Samuel took matters into his own hands or actually with his head as he scored in the 3rd minute of the second half with a header.  The defender connected with Hernanes' corner and the debut of the Brazilian midfielder would earn him an assist. Finally a goal was converted and the score was now Inter 1-0 Sassuolo.

Inter players celebrate as goal scorer, Samuel, rejoices via @inter.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>L&#39;esultanza di <a href="https://twitter.com/juan5jesus">@juan5jesus</a> e del gruppo dopo il gol di <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Samuel&amp;src=hash">#Samuel</a>: è vittoria a San Siro! <a href="http://t.co/oOIs7UwFFL">http://t.co/oOIs7UwFFL</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23FCIM&amp;src=hash">#FCIM</a> <a href="http://t.co/jV30GQHqTl">pic.twitter.com/jV30GQHqTl</a></p>&mdash; inter.it (@inter) <a href="https://twitter.com/inter/statuses/432651398514094080">February 9, 2014</a></blockquote>

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The Nerazzurri continued to dominate possession with the infrequent Sassuolo counters but the score remained the same.

In the 20th minute of the second half, Hernanes found Milito but once again Pegolo saved the attempt as it shot straight into the goalkeeper's arms.  That would be the last attempt by the Argentine striker as he continued to find full fitness and was subsequently substituted with fresh legs from another Argentine attacker, Botta.

Great work between Palacio and Hernanes in the 26th minute of the second half forced yet another save from the Sassuolo keeper.

Botta and Guarin also gave Pegolo more work to do between the away side goal posts as they tried for goal in the 31st minute but to no avail.

Samuel was substituted for precautionary measures as there was a threat of an injury and his Argentine compatriot, Campagnaro came on for him in the 35th minute.  Rolando switched to the center of defense and Campagnaro on the right side.

Other than the late game substitution of Taider for Kuzmanovic in the 39th minute, there was not much action and the game ended with a final score of 1-0 with Inter winning its first game in 2014.

While 6th placed Inter dominated the lowly 18th placed Sassuolo with ball possession and a "shots on target" ratio of 7:1, considering that it was the first victory of the year, it was a moment of relief if not happiness for many Interisti.

Inter had many opportunities for goal and could not convert them.  Two such chances came at the feet of Argentine striker, Milito who is slowly regaining match fitness and familiarity with friend and strike partner, Palacio.

As players who are coming back from injury like Milito, such as Samuel as well as the introduction of Hernanes and Botta come into the fold, the familiarity of playing with one another will come as they play more together and the stray passes and out of sync play seen in today's match will become less frequent as they eventually will learn the nuances of their movements.

Although Inter beat this same side away earlier this season with a larger margin, considering their recent poor form, this victory is exactly what the Nerazzurri needed.  While there are many areas of improvement yet to be addressed, the much needed three points and win would be something that Mazzarri can build upon as work against the Tuscan side begins soon with Inter facing 4th placed Fiorentina next who sit eight points ahead of Inter in league standings.

Samuel with the winning goal via @inter:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23InterSassuolo&amp;src=hash">#InterSassuolo</a>: Walter <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Samuel&amp;src=hash">#Samuel</a> explodes with joy after netting the goal that sealed victory for Inter! <a href="http://t.co/GiYRnjFpIm">http://t.co/GiYRnjFpIm</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23FCIM&amp;src=hash">#FCIM</a></p>&mdash; inter.it (@inter) <a href="https://twitter.com/inter/statuses/432642915081256960">February 9, 2014</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23InterSassuolo&amp;src=hash">#InterSassuolo</a>: l&#39;urlo di gioia di <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Samuel&amp;src=hash">#Samuel</a> dopo aver segnato il gol della vittoria! <a href="http://t.co/GiYRnjFpIm">http://t.co/GiYRnjFpIm</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23FCIM&amp;src=hash">#FCIM</a> <a href="http://t.co/811TtVTpXp">pic.twitter.com/811TtVTpXp</a></p>&mdash; inter.it (@inter) <a href="https://twitter.com/inter/statuses/432642734570995712">February 9, 2014</a></blockquote>

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Inter 1-0 Sassuolo

Goal scorers:

First half:  N/A

Second half:  Samuel (3')