Before the game all the buzz was about Milan beating Barcelona in CL. About Balotelli’s return to the wrong side of the Navigli. Talks about racism from the stands, Berlusconi returning to politics and as usual an Inter in crisis.
This in spite of the fact that Inter easily beat Cluj in the EL knockout stage. But mostly the talk was centered around how the players who vs Fiorentina resembled walking corpses more than anything else really should have played in the EL considering the derby was coming up. Would Stramaccioni’s gamble pay off? To give the team some much needed confidence before the derby and the hunt for third place or would it drain the already tired looking team of the last energy it had before the big game?
Now we know. The points were shared with the cousins in the derby after a 1-1 draw where Stephan El Shaarawy started the goalscoring for the rossoneri with a beautiful goal behind Samir Handanovic and Ezequiel Schelotto saved the point with his header and first goal in the Inter jersey. There is a lot to be said about Strama’s coaching, but regarding the gamble to play the best team in the EL before the derby well, it paid off. Inter began the game decently and Ricky just like the rest of the Inter line up looked promising. Until the Milan goal that is.
Massimiliano Allegri and his men were rightfully in the lead at halftime after having mercilessly exploited the weakness of Inters left flank. Yuto Nagatomo was left hanging in limbo defensively by Fredy Guarin and the only thing keeping Inter in the game was the world class keeper Samir Handanovic. Milan and Mario Balotelli were closer to a two and three goal advantage than Inter scoring their first. Things looked dark before the second half, but luckily Strama began coaching after halftime. Il capitano and Nagatomo switched flanks, Guarin was moved towards the inner midfield and things suddenly started looking more solid defensively and the team also started creating something offensively. I like hard working midfielders like Walter Gargano but I do wonder how he in game after game becomes the midfielder in the (in lack of a better word) “regista” role? Strama has some things to work on there. And then there is the fact that the team suffers the lack of a prima punta in attack, they struggle to create chances. The attacking play lacks an edge up front and is too dependent on the genius and mood of Antonio Cassano, something that won’t work a whole season.
Considering the season so far and the way this match played out I am more than happy with this tied result. We got to see an Inter with grinta who didn’t back down after trailing behind a goal and a super Handanovic who was the Inter MVP after 30 minutes played. I still cannot believe he kept Balo’s header out! And something reassuring to me at least was that in the second half Strama finally started actively coaching the team. The pursuit of third place is still very much alive, but there is no more room for slipups a la the Fiorentina game. And I think we should all pray that Walter Samuel comes back soon, he is sorely missed. At the moment the team has no leader in the back four.
Balotelli did not get the great return he was dreaming of, Handanovic made sure of that with some miraculous saves. The rasism on the stands? Well the game was never stopped, but I think it is safe to assume that Inter will be fined for some of the chants directed at Balotelli.
So how about that Inter in crisis? The wandering corpses from Florence are nothing but a distant nightmare and this is starting to look like a team again. There are in other words some good things to take away from this game. The best thing? Schelotto’s misty eyes after scoring the equalizer. Goosebumps.
Just one small thing though before I go; Sulley Muntari has to be without a doubt the poorest footballer to have represented the both Milano teams.