Everybody knew that a win was vital today. Further slip-ups would be detrimental to Inter's chase for 3rd place, and not being able to take three points from a struggling Sampdoria side would have killed morale. The fact that Jose Mourinho was at the San Siro watching this match was only further motivation for Mancini and his players to go out and not only win, but to do it outside of typical fashion so far this season (scoring a single goal and clinging to that lead all match).
Mancini opted to change things up for today's game and lined up with a 442 formation. Handanovic was protected by a backline of D'Ambrosio, Miranda, Murillo, and Nagatomo. The midfield was made up of Biabiany, Melo, Brozovic, and Perisic while the attack was spearheaded by ex-Sampdoria players Eder and Icardi. Speaking of exes, this match featured six players who had previously lined up for the opposing team. Besides Eder and Icardi for Inter, Montella handed starts to Silvestre, Ranocchia, Dodo, and Alvarez.
Inter started a little sluggish but soon got an idea of what they wanted to do in this match, which essentially boiled down to two attacking ideas. The first involved getting the ball to Biabiany and letting him run with it. His pace allowed him to have the better of a majority of the Sampdoria players during the first half and on one occasion Dodo had to just hack him down and get booked in order to stop the Frenchman. The only issue Biabiany had was often his final ball would be lacking once he ran down the flank but he got a couple of corners from his efforts. One of those corners produced the opening goal. In the 23rd minute Murillo flicked his header to the back post and D'Ambrosio was there to slam the ball into the back of the net.
The other attacking idea involved targeting Sampdoria's newest liability, Andrea Ranocchia. Inter fans are more than familiar with the mistakes that Ranocchia makes and Mancini seemed to tell Icardi and Eder to run at him as much as possible and try to force the Italian defender to make errors. In the 18th minute he was booked for sliding into Eder from behind and almost picked up a second yellow for taking down an Inter player once he had been beaten for pace. Though he did not make any other major mistakes during the first half Inter kept using both of Mancini's strategies throughout the half in order to increase their lead but ended the half with a one goal cushion. Montella was justifiably angry about this lead though because in the 38th minute there was a handball by D'Ambrosio in the box that should have been called as a penalty but the referee decided not to give it.
The away side came close to leveling the scoreline early on in the second half. Fernando's free kick was flicked on by Dodo but Ranocchia was unable to get to it at the far post. They would regret not taking that chance when the Nerazzurri doubled their lead six minutes later from another corner. Melo knocked down a header to Miranda who powered his own header well beyond the goal-line. In the 73rd minute Mancini's gameplan to pressure Ranocchia paid off. Brozovic played the ball forward for Icardi and when Ranocchia miscued his clearance, the Argentine striker took the ball up the field and stroked the ball in off the far post. In the 92nd minute Sampdoria got a consolation goal through Quagliarella but in the end Inter got all three points in a solid 3-1 win.
This was a much improved performance by the team. The defenders were confident, Biabiany had a great game, and Icardi once again showed that all he needs is one opportunity and he will score. This result temporarily moves Inter to 4th place one point behind Fiorentina and one ahead of Roma. Both Fiorentina and Roma play tomorrow (against Atalanta and Palermo respectively). Regardless of how our rivals for 3rd do tomorrow, the Inter players will be in a good mood this week in training, which can only help them in preparing for the Derby d'Italia on the 28th.