Inter took on their city rivals today in the Derby Della Madonnina hoping to turn around 2016. Besides a 2-0 elimination of Napoli in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals, the new year has been greatly disappointing for Mancini and his players culminating in a 3-0 loss to Juventus in the Coppa Italia semifinals last week. The coach insisted that there was no crisis at the club and that this match would be a good chance to turn things around.
Mancini opted to return to the 4231 formation for this game. The back four was comprised of Santon, Miranda, Murillo, and Juan Jesus (who was captain for the night). The midfield two was made up of Medel and Brozovic while the front saw Ljajic, Eder (making his Inter debut), and Perisic behind Jovetic. Before the match the cameras found Icardi on the bench and boy he did not look too happy there (though he would get a chance to make his mark later on-which he failed at, which was essentially the turning point of the match-but we'll get to that in a minute).
When the game began it was end-to-end action. Eder had a good chance to open the scoring in the 6th minute but he messed up his header from close range. The newcomer had a bright first half, he had a lot of smart movement which allowed him to have some good interplay with the other attackers. On the other side of the pitch, Kucka was constantly driving forward past the Inter midfielders, allowing Milan to get the ball to the attackers easily and causing our defenders a lot of problems. A player like that was what Inter has been crying out for, and it was sad watching Kucka providing that outlet for only €3m while the person Inter spent over €30m for sat on the bench because he has not been able to perform that role.
Brozovic was expected to take over and use his passing (rather than strength and aggression) in order to link up the midfield and attack but the Croatian had an abysmal game today, his passing and positioning was just off today. His fellow compatriot Perisic also had a night to forget. As usual his running and willingness to track back was good but his decision making in the final third was poor and as the match progressed, he seemed scared to do anything progressive in fear of making the wrong decision.
Milan managed to take the lead in the 36th minute through Alex who powered home a perfect Honda cross. There was drama at the start of the second half. Milan keeper Donnarumma charged for a ball and got to it just before taking out Eder. Mancini protested the decision and was sent off for his words to the officials. This was entirely unnecessary, even if all he said was that the refs ought to be ashamed of themselves (which is what the commentators I was listening to reported Mancini said). In a match like this while losing during a poor run of form the manager needs to keep his head most of all and provide support for his players. Mancini might be starting to lose his cool like the end of his last stint at Inter; I really hope I'm wrong though.
About 20 minutes later the Inter players had their chance back in the match. Icardi had come into the match and when trying to take a second shot he was taken down by Alex in the 69th minute. He stepped up to take the penalty and against all odds sent it crashing against the post. Less than 5 minutes later Inter were down by two goals; Niang sent in a great cross and Bacca was there to put the ball away. These two events spelled the end of the game for the Nerazzurri. Icardi's penalty miss saw the team utterly deflated as their top scorer and last season's hero was unable to pull them back into the match; the fact that Milan doubled their lead only a few minutes later only made their heads drop further. Unfortunately Milan wasn't done yet and Niang got himself a goal. Santon took too long on the ball and it was stolen before Niang put his second attempt in the back of the net. The match ended 3-0 to the home side.
This was bad, in fact I would say this was worse than the loss to Juventus a few days ago. We're supposed to be better than Milan but they just manhandled this team. At this point Mancini needs to really have a long look at himself and this team. He got the players that he wanted, now he needs to get them to perform. His tactics are no longer working so he needs to rethink the way he is sending the players out there, the midfield needs to figure out how to control matches in a progressive way and the attack needs to start linking up much better (though Eder seemed like a bright new addition that could help with the latter problem). Mancini also needs to get a grip on himself. There was no reason for him to get sent off today and it turns out as he went to the stands he gave the Milan fans the finger so he could face further punishment. He needs to calm both himself and his team down so they can start to turn around what has been an abysmal start to the year. Luckily, Fiorentina's draw means Inter did not lose much ground on third place, but now Roma is only three points behind them. This poor form cannot continue, hopefully Inter can turn things around Wednesday against Chievo Verona.