Inter traveled to Torino for the Serie A season opener as the Nerazzurri hoped to build upon an impressive midweek win against Icelandic side, Stjarnan in the Europa League.
With the acquisitions of Vidic, Dodo, M'Vila, and Medel, Inter looked as if they had strengthened up the midfield in preparation for both domestic and Europa league competitions. The big question hanging over the head of the Nerazzurri players would be if they would convert positive preseason performances into meaningful results when it counted.
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Inter: 1 Handanovic; 23 Ranocchia, 15 Vidic, 5 Juan Jesus; 2 Jonathan, 90 M'Vila, 18 Medel, 22 Dodò; 88 Hernanes, 10 Kovacic; 9 Icardi.
Substitutes: 30 Carrizo, 46 Berni, 6 Andreolli, 7 Osvaldo, 14 Campagnaro, 17 Kuzmanovic, 20 Obi, 33 D'Ambrosio, 44 Krhin, 55 Nagatomo, 97 Bonazzoli.
Coach: Walter Mazzarri.
Torino: 30 Padelli, 5 Bovo, 7 El Kaddouri, 9 Larrondo, 14 Gazzi, 19 Maksimovic, 23 Nocerino, 24 Moretti, 25 Glik, 27 Quagliarella, 36 Darmian.
Substitutes: 1 Gillet, 3 Molinaro, 9 Vesovic, 17 Martinez, 18 Jansson, 21 Silva, 28 Sanchez Mino, 32 Masiello, 94 Benassi.
Coach: Giampiero Ventura.
Officials: Doveri, Giallatini, Dobosz, Tasso, Giacomelli, and Fabbri
Click here for the official match report from the Inter site.
Inter lined up in a 3-4-2-1 formation with Handanovic in goal; a three man defense consisting of Ranocchia, Vidic, and Juan Jesus; the four man midfield of Jonathan, M'Vila, Medel, and Dodò, with Hernanes and Kovacic playing slightly behind striker, Icardi.
Inter took possession early on in the match with M'Vila striking from distance just wide of goal in the 2nd minute.
The Nerazzurri continued to apply pressure on the home side with infrequent but dangerous counter attacks by Torino.
A controversial penalty was called in favor of Torino's Quagliarella in the 18th minute but fortunately for the Nerazzurri faithful, shot stopper Handanovic was quick to save the attempt leaving the score line level at 0-0.
19: Torino have a penalty. Vidic is alleged to have pulled down his man #TorinoInter— F.C. Internazionale (@Inter) August 31, 2014
Here is the incredible save by Inter keeper, Handanovic via @InterPrimavera:
San Samir https://t.co/h4oiCdId0q— Interista (@InterPrimavera) August 31, 2014
The remainder of the first half ended without incident as the Nerazzurri dominated ball possession but looked a bit disorganized. The second half picked up where Inter left off with the players on the ball but looking disjointed.
In the 11th minute of the second half M'vila made way for Osvaldo. Inter seemed to press the middle of the pitch more but Torino congested the midfield with players. Unfortunately for Inter, the width of the pitch was not utilized as much. The movement in the middle was rather limited. With the addition of Osvaldo on the pitch, the Nerazzurri looked better as added options were available.
D'Ambrosio came on for Dodo in the 35th minute and Mazzarri made his last substitution with the inclusion of Nagatomo for Jonathan in the 39th minute.
While the performance on the pitch was less than satisfactory, as usual, the talking points post match were not about the players but about the controversial officiating. Earlier in the match, Vidic allegedly pulled down a Torino player. Upon reviewing the replays, there seemed to be little to no contact. Fortunately, Handanovic saved the penalty attempt which seemed just, considering the controversy surrounding the original penalty call.
In the 46th minute of the second half, another controversial officiating call went against new center back signee, Vidic, as he was sent off for applauding the referee. Apparently, Doveri took exception to this gesture and provided a gesture of his own by showing the new Inter center back a (reportedly straight) red card.
The season opening game played away is always challenging. Add this to a midweek Europa League match and controversial officiating and you know that Serie A is back in action for the Nerazzurri faithful. Aside from the officiating, the players seemed a bit fatigued as they had difficulty replicating their midweek performance against Stjarnan. Albeit Torino is a better side but without the likes of their offensive threats last season of Cerci and Immobile, it is not the best sign to see Inter struggle to manage a point away.
With the multiple competitions that Inter will be participating in between Serie A, the Europa League, and Coppa Italia, while the Nerazzurri had strengthened the midfield substantially, another center back and striker may be helpful if or when injuries start to take its toll. (Please note: Inter will be traveling 7,200 miles for Europa League group fixtures).
The good news, if there is any, is that despite the poor performance and controversial officiating, it is only the first match of the Serie A season. Hopefully, Inter will rebound during the international break and thump Sassuolo when the Nerazzurri return to play on September 14 for their home opener at the Giuseppe Meazza.
Torino 0-0 Inter
Goal scorers: N/A
Man of the Match: Samir Handanovic