The end of an era. As cliché as the phrase sounds, it aptly described what Interisti would witness today. After the dramatic events of last week's match that clinched a Europa League spot for the Nerazzurri and the post-match celebration paying tribute to Javier Zanetti as the Inter captain hangs up his boots at the end of the season, the focus of the last match of the season was on three other Inter players also set to leave. A fond farewell to Diego Milito, Esteban Cambiasso, and Walter Samuel were on the minds of most Interisti as the four remaining figures from that treble winning squad of 2010 were moving on to other pastures after the season.
With nothing at stake for either club, (Inter had already clinched a Europa League spot for next season and Chievo were safe from relegation), there was nothing to play for aside from their competitive spirits and the desire to send off the remaining "tripletisti" on a high note with one last victory.
Loved and respected by all, Javier Zanetti receives an award prior to the match from Chievo President, Luca Campedelli, in honor of the Inter Captain's legendary football career.
Official Lineups from the Inter site:
INTER (4-4-2): Carrizo; Zanetti, Campagnaro, Andreolli, D'Ambrosio; Cambiasso, Taider, Kovacic, Alvarez; Botta, Milito.
Substitutes: Castellazzi, Jonathan, Ranocchia, Samuel, Rolando, Nagatomo, Guarin, Kuzmanovic, Hernanes, Polo, Icardi, Bonazzoli
Manager: Walter Mazzarri
CHIEVO (4-4-2): Squizzi; Bernardini, Dainelli, Lazarevic, Radovanovic, Bentivoglio, Frey, Rubin, Paloschi, Hetemaj, Dramé.
Substitutes: Agazzi, Moschin, Dos Santos, Kupisz, Obinna, Guana, Cesar, Calello, Paredes, Guarente, Brighenti, Stojan
Manager: Eugenio Corini
Officials: Manganiello, Di Iorio, Fiorito, Meli, Banti, Russo
(Please click here for the Live Match Thread and Comments).
In a complete turnaround from Mazzarri's favorite 3-5-2 formation, the Inter boss changed his lineup to include Milito, Cambiasso, and Zanetti among the starters.
The Nerazzurri starting lineup up included Carrizo in goal; a four man defense of Zanetti, Campagnaro, Andreolli, and D'Ambrosio; a four man midfield of Cambiasso, Taider, Kovacic, and Alvarez; with Botta slightly behind Milito up top in attack.
The first half opened up with the home side attacking. It was clear from the start that although Chievo were safe from relegation, they wanted the three points to close out their season on a high.
Both sides countered each other in attack and in defense throughout the first half. The Flying Donkeys were most unfortunate to have hit the woodwork twice as Paloschi's header (10') and Lazarevic's shot (30') both deflected out as Interisti breathed sighs of relief.
Surprisingly Inter scored on its first shot on target in the 41st minute as former Chievo man, Andreolli found the back of the net off a Taider corner kick. The Nerazzurri defender did not celebrate his goal against his former club as a sign of respect which the home fans appreciated with their applause.
The first half drew to a close with away side Inter leading, 0-1.
Mazzarri made his first change of the game as Campagnaro came off for Ranocchia to start the second half.
Play was a bit subdued as both sides seemed to neutralize the other with counter attacks that were easily nullified by their corresponding defense. While Inter seemed to possess the ball more, they could not seem to get the final touch to put the game out of reach for the visitors. Unfortunately, this would haunt the Nerazzurri as Obinna equalized for the home side in the 28th minute of the second half.
Inter's second substitution came way of Guarin for Kovacic in the 37th minute. If rumors are to be believed, the Columbian international may also be on his way out this summer too as his minutes seemed to dwindle since the transfer market debacle with Juventus this past January.
The last substitution for the Nerazzurri was the debut of primavera star, Bonazzoli on for Botta in the 40th minute.
In the dying minutes of the match, Obinna scored his second goal of the game in the 45th minute bringing it to a 2-1 score line in Chievo's favor.
The game ended on a low note as Inter regroup during the summer for next season. Expect lots of changes between now and at the beginning of next season as the period of transition truly sets in. Inter finished in 5th place with a total of 60 points and European competition on the agenda for the 2014-2015 season.
Final scenes from the Bentegodi showed Zanetti, Cambiasso, Milito, and Samuel saluting the fans as these final four treble players hang up their Inter kits after years of loyal service and countless trophies. A heartfelt thank you goes out to them all on the behalf of Interisti worldwide! From the bottom of our hearts, we will be eternally grateful for all that you have accomplished with us and for us. You have meant so much to Inter and have worked hard over the years to bring us joy and happiness. Good luck in your new endeavors!
Sempre Forza Inter!
Men of the Match:
Javier Zanetti, Diego Milito, Esteban Cambiasso, and Walter Samuel (yes, even if he did not play and we lost).
Andrea Ranocchia (@23_Frog) May 18, 2014
Chievo 2-1 Inter:
First half: Andreolli 41'
Second half: Obinna 28' and 45'