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

Steve Mitchell On August - 23 - 2011

Italian Serie A 2011-12 Club Preview: Inter

2010-11 Recap

After the euphoria of the previous season’s treble, the Nerazzurri had to settle for just the Coppa Italia last term as their cross city rivals AC Milan were crowned kings of Italy. Following in the footsteps of Jose Mourinho was never going to be easy but when President Massimo Morratti appointed former Liverpool tactician Rafael Benitez to take over from the self titled “Special One”, even the most fervent fan of the Milan giants must have feared the worst. After winning the World Club Championship in December, Benitez gave an ultimatum to his President to “back me or sack me”, Morratti chose the latter and by Christmas Benitez was gone and replaced by former AC Milan legend Leonardo.

The Brazilian certainly managed to steady the ship but ultimately finished the campaign six points behind Milan whilst their defence of the Champions League title was ended at the quarter-final stage by German side Schalke. Shortly after claiming the Coppa Italia on a sultry night in Rome, Leonardo decided to move to pastures new, being lured to French club Paris Saint Germain, where he is now the sporting director. So the baton has been passed to former Genoa coach Gian Piero Gasparini who has just one remit for the new campaign, to wrestle the Scudetto away from their city neighbours.

Key Acquisitions

Ricky Alvarez, Jonathan, Luc Castaignos, Emiliano Viviano

Key Departures

McDonald Mariga, Houssine Kharja

The Summer So Far

Gasperini has been thrown in at the deep end with most of the off field gossip centering around the possible transfer of  two of the Nerazzurri’s leading lights. Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto’o now seems certain to join Russian side Anzhi in a deal reported to be worth over 20 million euros a season to the player whilst Dutch play-maker Wesley Sneijder , has seen a prospected move to Manchester United break down after failing to agree personal terms. The sale of Eto’o has opened the door for a deal to be reached with Athletico Madrid for Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan with Manchester City’s unsettled marksman Carlos Tevez also on the clubs radar.

On the field, an Italian Super-Cup defeat to Milan in the Birds Nest stadium in Beijing was hardly the best preparation for the new campaign but with new signings Ricky Alvarez and Dutch youngster Luc Castaignos showing some early season promise, it is not all doom and gloom at Appiano Gentile.

What next

Gasperini has been using pre-season to try to work out his best starting formation. The 53-year-old is known to be an advocate of the 3-4-3 system which he used to good effect during his time at Genoa where his teams played some scintillating football, whether he can transfer that to his new charges remains to be seen. One of the biggest bonuses of the summer break has been the return to the heart of the defence of Walter Samuel who missed five months of last season after a debilitating knee injury picked up in November of last year. Gasperini will hope that his experienced Argentinian can bring a calming influence to his back -line after some erratic performances from young Italian international Andrea Ranocchia last term. Gasperini will also be hoping that striker Giampaolo Pazzini can pick up where he left off last season, after moving to Milan from Sampdoria, the 27-year-old bagged 11 goals in just 17 appearances. Whether paired with Forlan, Tevez or even the forgotten man himself, Diego Milito, the Nerazzurri still have the firepower to mount a serious championship bid.

Man To Watch

Rick Alvarez is a versatile player who is just as happy playing in the trequartista role as he is playing in a four man midfield. It looked for all the world that Alvarez would be the natural successor to Wesley Sneijder who look destined to leave the club in the summer. Now that the Dutchman seems set to stay in the fashion capital of the world, Alvarez will almost certainly play in a deeper lying midfield position if Gasperini opts for his preferred 3-4-3. More of a creator rather than scorer of goals, Alvarez has spent the past three seasons with Argentinean side Velez Sarsfield were his consistent performances caught the eye of many of Europe’s biggest names. Many experts in South America have reserved judgement on a player that Massimo Morratti spent just under 12 million euros bringing to the peninsula suggesting that he is not ready to play for one of  footballs traditional superpowers but early season form seems to point to a bright future for the boy from Buenos Aires.


It has been a long time since the Nerazzurri started a campaign without being the favourites to lift the Scudetto but this time around, their city rivals Milan are the bookmakers choice to retain their championship. Gasperini is all to aware of the pressure he is under to deliver  silverware and his side still look to be Milan’s closest challengers. With the Samuel Eto’o saga almost at its conclusion, the coach can now fully concentrate on this weekend’s big kick-off. It seems very very likely that Milan will provide numbers one and two in the final standings, Massimo Morratti will be praying that unlike last season the positions are reversed

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