Hellas Verona travelled to the Meazza today and the Nerazzurri went in to the game with 15 points in the table but Hellas was nipping at our heels with 13 points on the trot. Hellas was coming off a 1-1 draw last week with Cesena as Inter were looking to rebound from an embarrassing loss to lowly Parma, who were thrashed 7-0 by Juve earlier today. Pressure had mounted on Mazzarri’s head and a draw in the Europa League midweek did little to dissipate this. Moreover, President Thohir expressed that points against Hellas were necessary, perhaps adding to the gravity of this match.
A few changes were made to the lineup from the midweek fixture as Ranocchia took back his position in the defense and Nagatomo returned to the right wing position. An attacking duo of Icardi and Palacio was selected with young star Bonazzoli on the bench alongside the recovering Osvaldo. Finally, Handanovic took the gloves back after Carizzo and Kuzmanovic kept his place in the midfield over Hernanes.
Inter began this match attacking Verona and maintained possession in the opening minutes but the build up was a bit slow and the passing was static. Individually, Kuzmanovic was looking like a man possessed, making individual moves and running into space. The Nerazzurri were continuing to get forward but were also looking vulnerable on the counter attack, with Toni almost putting Hellas 1-0 up after a slip in defense from Vidic. However, the writing was on the wall and after another counter attack Hellas were up 1-0 through Toni. The defending on this play was unacceptable as Inter had twice as many players in the box but no one took responsibility for marking the Hellas players and Vidic was caught ball watching.
After the goal Inter continued to hold a majority of the possession and were trying to level the match quickly. This would eventually happen as a seemingly over hit cross was kept in by Palacio, who headed the ball across the box to Icardi and Mauro would make no mistake. At this point the Nerazzurri began to mount the pressure on Verona, raising the tempo of the match and going forward with more urgency, but the movement off the ball was not good enough and the attack was limited to circling the perimeter of the Verona box. Kuzmanovic was unlucky not to find the net with a sublime piece of skill as his shot went off the post and a header from Vidic was well saved. Chances continued for the Nerazzurri but they could not add another goal in the first half. Inter seemed to improve as the half wore on but should have gone into the break without conceding. Inter seriously need to eliminate these lapses in concentration in defense if they are to begin to achieve the results they are capable of.
Inter went into the second half pressing once again and took the lead within five minutes as Palacio received the ball in the box well to slide across for Icardi, who once again buried his chance. At the other end Medel blocked a shot with his arm in the box and Hellas were given a penalty, while Medel was sent off for a second yellow. However, as usual, our saviour Samir Handanovic made easy work of a Luca Toni penalty and the score remained 2-1 for Inter. Frustratingly, the Nerazzurri played the next portion of the game with a massive gap in front of their defense as no substitution was made to replace Medel in the midfield. Eventually Krhin replaced Kovacic but there were worrying scenes as Kovacic limped off the field and seemed to be in some discomfort.
Verona continued to push forward into Inter’s half and was looking for the equalizer, while the Nerazzurri were doing everything to keep the three points. Both Palacio and Icardi played well together today and were making a lot of the few chances Inter had on the counter by holding up the ball and laying it off to one another, while Vidic certainly should have scored off a resulting corner kick but headed the ball wide. With five minutes left in the match Mazzarri replaced Palacio with Obi and Rodrigo should be proud of his performance as he ran with heart and set up both Icardi goals. Unfortunately, Inter could not hold on and Verona equalized despite Handanovic getting a hand to a Nico Lopez shot. Top marks to Samir for keeping us in this match.
This was another very disappointing draw and for some of the same old reasons. For one, the players had chances to score and should have done so on more than two occasions but Icardi seems to be the only one who can ripple the net with any consistency. Second, the defense really needs to maintain concentration for 90 minutes and MUST stop conceding weak goals at the start of every match. Most disappointing for me is that Inter is a team where a majority of players play for their respective international teams but who also can’t manage to dynamically attack any middle or bottom of the table Serie A side nor can we defend properly against them. We can all see that Mazzarri has his tactical hand of cards facing outward and every team is aware that they can defend us deep and then punish us on the counter. Sure, the players could take their chances better but the Serie A is a tactical championship and a team with one dimension, like Inter, is destined to be taken advantage of. There is clearly no plan B to the 3-5-2 and when teams sit back and our attack looks static, no changes are made, just a lot of pointing, hand waving and bottle biting. Mr. President, the time has come.