Inter went into their away match in Palermo this Saturday evening coming off a positive tie against Juventus. However, the Nerazzurri had not achieved a winning result at the Stadio Barbera since the 2010 season and they would need all three points if they wanted to keep pace in the league’s top spots.
Mancini fielded a risky but attacking minded lineup, replacing JJ and Santon with the speedy and offensive minded pair of Telles and Nagatomo. Moreover, the midfield consisted of Kondogbia, Medel and Guarin, with Melo getting a much needed rest. Questions still remain over Guarin’s ability to maintain his place in the team despite his serious lack of consistency.
Inter have had trouble putting the ball in the back of the net this season and Mancini was looking to reinstate some attacking confidence by unleashing Icardi, Jovetic and Perisic on Palermo. However, Mancio would have a lot to answer for if this gamble backfired. With no European commitments it is difficult to understand why Mancini has rotated his squad so often.
The match did not begin according to plan with Inter spending a lot of time under pressure. The attack consisted of hitting long balls to Icardi or Jovetic, who appeared to have miles of space between himself and the midfield. At the other end Nagatomo was giving his doubters plenty of material early on getting caught out, often leaving Medel or someone else in a position where they had to take a foul in order to recover.
By the 25th minute it was still 0-0 but in all honestly it could have already been 2-0 for Palermo. The Nerazzurri were getting beaten back by Palermo and looked completely out of sorts when moving forward. If it were not for a few key saves from Handanovic Inter would have been trailing. If one thing is for certain, whatever Mancini was thinking would happen with this lineup, he was mistaken.
The Nerazzurri came out in the second half without changes and were denied going up 1-0 early after a well-taken Jovetic free kick was saved by Sorrentino. However, it was clear that Inter were stilling having trouble breaking Palermo down. Mancini looked to react to this by bringing on Biabiany, who would add speed to Inter’s movement; however, at the expense of Kondogbia.
Inter took the lead soon after the change with Jovetic making a fine chip into the box to Biabiany, who squared the ball across the box to a wide open Perisic. Credit to Jovetic for seeing the pass and for Biabiany for making the run. However, the lead was short lived and Palermo were able to equalize through a Gilardino tap in after a Vazquez volley bounced through a sea of legs in the Inter box. The Nerazzurri were close to restoring their lead in the 75th but a deflected Guarin shot was miraculously palmed over the bar by Palermo keeper, Sorrentino. Inter were looking to go for it with Mancini subbing out captain Icardi for Ljajic. However, moments after the subs Murillo was given his second yellow after a Palermo player beat the Colombian and embarrassingly preferred to flop to the ground instead of going in alone against Handanovic. With Inter down to 10 men it became even more difficult to attack and hold possession.
Guarin was at in the mix again in the dying stages and had the whole net to shoot at but amazingly side-footed the ball wide of the goal. Moments later Ljajic sent Biabiany through but his shot was once again saved by Sorrentino, who had a man of the match performance this evening.
One can’t help but wonder what could have been in this match had it not been used as a science project by Mancini. If we want to win the winnable games this season, we need to put our best players on the pitch every single week. Full stop. Forza Inter.