Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Saturday 20th February 2010. A date that will remain in the minds of Internazionale fans everywhere for quite some time. Some followers of the Nerazurri will claim that this is a date which saw the Italian football authorities do their best to thwart their club’s charge for the Serie A title. The refereeing performance in this match did nothing to dispel this theory; however, this date should be remembered for the tactical brilliance of one man. One man who, when his team play Chelsea at the San Siro on Wednesday evening, will have been unbeaten in his own turf for 8 years and a day. The man in question? Why Jose Mourinho of course!

Eyebrows will have been raised at Mourinho’s rotation of his first eleven on Saturday. Many had expected Mourinho to give some rested to the attacking duo of Diego Milito and Samuel Eto’o. Jose however, likes to be the centre of attention and surprised us all by opting to rotate his defence and start the forward duo. Cesar started in goals. The back four consisted of Maicon, Cordoba, Samuel and Zanetti. Dejan Stankovic returned from injury to join Muntari and Cambiasso in the midfield. Wesley Snjeider resumed his role as the trequartista, and Milito and Eto’o led the attack.

Del Neri was not to be upstaged by Mourinho, and will have risked the wrath of Sampdoria fans by again leaving Antonio Cassano out of his squad due to a mysterious “injury” which the striker has allegedly been suffering from for a few weeks now. Samp lined up with a 442 formation; Storari, on loan from Inter’s rivals AC, was in goals; Zauri, Gastadello, Luchini and Ziegler were in defence; Semioli, Palombo, Poli, and Guberti in midfield; with Pozzi and the prolific Pazzini upfront.

The game opened with both sides looking to claim an early advantage, and Inter repeatedly surged forward with Eto’o looking particularly dangerous. Sampdoria also signaled their intent on 17 minutes when Poli managed to find room to shoot straight at Cesar.

The first yellow card was handed to Poli in 23 minutes after he fouled Stankovic with a clattering challenge. Samuel received his first yellow of the match when he launched a two footed challenge on Pozzi in the 28th minute. It was in the 31st minute when things really started to heat up when Samuel was sent off as the last man and bringing down Pozzi when he would have been clear on goal. Replays showed Samuel’s flailing arm made contact with Pozzi’s face. Ziegler took the resulting free kick, however Cordoba moved early to block it and was booked for his efforts. The retaken free-kick was deflected out for a corner.

Mourinho made his first change 35 minutes into the game taking Muntari off for the Brazilian captain Lucio. Pazzini was booked in the 36th minute for a foul on Lucio. Inter were reduced to 9 men in the 38th minute when Cordoba received his second yellow for battering Pozzi as Sampdoria tried to counterattack. Mourinho’s response to this latest setback was to drop Cambiasso into defence and ensure Inter kept possession with their attacking players who were left on.

The second half saw Sampdoria fail to press their advantage, and Inter valiantly defended and looked to attack at any possible opportunity. In the 52nd minute Snjeider fired a free-kick just over the crossbar. Samuel Eto’o added some excitement to the game when he rushed through on goal after being sent through by a Maicon cross; he was booked however for diving. This proved too much for Jose Mourinho who could not surpress his feelings and could be seen laughing and pretending to bash his head off the Inter dugout. Mourinho decided on 75 minutes that Milito had contributed enough and Pandev entered the frey as his replacement.

Sampdoria were reduced to 10 men in the 79th minute when Pazzini tackled Stankovic from behind and received a second yellow. Inter’s best chance of the match occurred when Pandev released Eto’o who surged towards Storari, only to blast his shot straight at the keeper; this was surely Inter’s chance to take all three points. Mourinho signaled his intent to secure the point by bringing on Thiago Motta for Snjeider.

The final whistle saw both teams walk away with a point, although it will unquestionably be Inter who are more satisfied with a point. Sampdoria offered little in attack, and calls for Del Neri to restore Cassano to the starting 11 will be loud. Mourinho however, will be more concerned about how his team react physically to this game; they play Chelsea on Wednesday evening, and you would expect some players to be a bit jaded; Eto’o especially. Jose is however, undefeated at home for 8 years now, and the omens for him and Inter’s future appear to be good; despite the alleged efforts of the Italian FA.

Ryan Ross

I became enthralled with Calcio back in the 90’s, when James Richardson presented Football Italia. My early mornings were spent following the trials and tribulations of Internazionale, during a period where they always flattered to deceive. It took a Frenchman to get me hooked though; Youri Djorkaeff, my favourite player of all time. This guy was key to Inter’s midfield, never mind his role in France’s World Cup win in 1998! I have a keen interest in Calcio’s rich history.

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