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Inter Stumble; Are Jose's Eyes Elsewhere?

Posted by Ryan Ross Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Samuel Eto'o fouled during Napoli v Inter Milan Round 24 09/10 seasonInter Milan continued their quest for Serie A glory on Sunday evening, away to Napoli at the San Paolo. This match looked like a tough tie for Inter, given Napoli's excellent record under Mazarri, and so it proved as they only managed to secure a 0-0 draw.

Mourinho opted to break up the "three muskateers" for this match, as Samuel Eto'o was dropped to the bench and Wesley Sneijder was recalled to the lineup. Inter reverted to a 4321 formation for this match; Cesar, Maicon Lucio Samuel Santon, Zanetti Cambiasso Muntari, Sneijder, Milito Pandev. Is it possible that Mourinho had more than one eye fixed on an approaching Champions League tie? The decision to rest Eto'o was perculiar, especially as it would make sense to secure the League Title as early as possible.

The match was certainly entertaining, and some high class counter-attacking football was on show as both teams aimed for a win.

Napoli displayed their intentions right from the off, and were inspired onwards by their fans. In the 10th minute Marek Hamsik went close. Zanetti cleared a cross out of the box, and the clearance fell to Hamsik, who subsequently lashed a shot towards the Inter goal which crashed off the crossbar, Cesar had little chance of getting it. Napoli's Doni was able to get to the rebound but before he could get a chance on goal, Samuel excellently tackled him to save Inter.

Napoli continued to exert pressure on Inter; Quagliarella fired into the side of the goal, and also managed to fizz a shot wide of Cesar's post. Arguably Napoli's best chance of the half came from a diving header by Denis, but the League's best goalkeeper, Cesar, was on hand to produce an excellent save. Inter retaliated on 30 minutes when Muntari hit a left footed shot which cannoned off the post.

The second half opened with Inter determined to claim a foothold in the proceedings. Muntari had been replaced by Inter newboy Mariga; a clever piece of squad rotation by Mourinho? Inter attacked down the left wing with Pandev setting up Sneijder who produced an excellent turn to shoot at goal; De Sanctis was however, safely able to catch the ball.

Inter continued their pressure and Mariga on the right wing managed to find Pandev who turned and lashed a shot on goal, De Sanctis was only able to parry it away to a Napoli defender. Maicon then released Milito with a long pass, but despite latching onto the ball, the Argentine was only able to fire the ball at De Sanctis's boot when he really should have done better.

Napoli responded well to this pressure and Quagliarella hit the post, before Denis skied the rebound; he certainly should have put Napoli in the lead. Inter brought Eto'o on for Pandev in the 71st minute; he was to have little effect. Denis and Hamsik combined well throughout the closing stages, however, Denis's finishing is something not to be desired! He spurned a host of chances and Napoli will feel hard-done-by with just a point.

The match finished with both teams equal, but Inter escaped from this with a well earned point. Napoli meanwhile, will be left to wonder "what if?" Inter will now look ahead to a tough home tie against in-form Sampdoria next weekend, before they host Chelsea midweek in the Champions League; will Mourinho decide to gamble and rest more big names? Time will only tell.

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