Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy
February 20, 2011, 00:15 IST
Closing in on Milan
Inter have really had a roller coaster of a season this time out with their wins and losses. Yet, they are closing in on Milan who has lost a bit of form off late. Last Sunday, Inter lost to Juventus and everyone was predicting how Inter’s title chances were over when they were 8 points behind. However, the Champions have clawed their way back into the Scudetto race after their win against Fiorentina in the midweek.
The Nerazzurri are in 3rd position in the table with 47 points in 25 games. Surprisingly, Napoli are 2 points ahead of them but pundits expect the Naples to slip down below Inter before the end of the season which would mean the title will be up for grabs for either of the Milan sides.
With just a handful of games left, Inter will know they cannot afford to slip up anymore and they have to play every game like a final. However, on a positive note, Milan has tougher fixtures in the run up compared to Inter. So, La Beanamata have to take advantage of this if they want to win the Scudetto.
2011 has been nothing short of spectacular for the visitors as they have managed to distance themselves from the relegation zone. Once struggling to collect even a single point per match, Cagliari has been outstanding winning 4 of their last 7 matches. Making matters even more impressive is the fact that they have lost their key goal scorer Matri in the transfer window.
With that in mind, they sit in 9th place 10 points comfortably ahead of the relegation place and also 7 points behind the elusive Europa league spot. If they are to manage to stay in the league, they have to continue with the same confidence.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Lucio, Samuel and Motta are still out injured. Chivu, on the other hand is serving his four match ban and will be unavailable.
Inter still haven’t been convincing defensively and have been conceding goals all season. It is a known fact that Lucio and Samuel are out, meaning Julio Cesar has to take responsibility and organize his defense. Ranocchia has performed brilliantly in the last couple of matches and with the out of form Cordoba to partner him, Inter will need another heroic performance from the young Italian defender to keep a clean sheet. Maicon and Nagatomo are arguably the most dangerous full backs in the league.
Zanetti and Stankovic will play the role of centered wingers and Cambiasso will support his back four. Sneijder has returned to form and should dictate the game with his intelligence. Inter will know that Cagliari will defend for their lives, so, it is crucial that the Dutchman performs to his best.
Eto’o and Pazzini will spearhead the attack with Eto’o expected to play the free role and cut in from the wing. This leaves Pazzini to almost lead the attack on his own and drop behind defenders.
Possible Line-up: Cesar, Maicon, Cordoba, Ranocchia, Nagatomo, Stankovic, Cambiasso, Zanetti, Sneijder, Pazzini, Eto’o
Luciano and Marcolini are injured while Fernandes is suspended.
Cagliari has been playing with a 4-5-1 formation after the departure of Matri to Juventus. And, to be fair, they have been quite successful with the lineup. Whilst, Agazzi is expected to guard the posts, Canini and Astori will have to sit deep and defend a very strong Inter attack. Pisano and Agostini will neither be given the space to roam in the flanks. So, they’ll also be expected to sit back and squeeze Inter into the center of the pitch.
Conti will take up the role of protecting his defenders at the same time receiving support from Biondini and Lazzari who will also look for any chances to provide the width which is crucial against the Champions. Meanwhile, Cossu will be supporting Acquafresca upfront by dropping into the hole with the inform Nene dragging defenders.
Acquafresca will be crucial in deciding the tie in favour of Cagliari as he has to take any chances that are presented.
Possible Lineup: Agazzi, Pisano, Canini, Astori, Agostini, Biondini, Conti, Lazzari, Cossu, Nene, Acquafresca.
Inter Milan: W-L–W-W-W
1) Cagliari have had 10 wins and 10 losses this season and the remaining 5 results have been draws.
2) Inter have never lost to Cagliari in the last 10 matches in all competitions.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Giampolo Pazzini (Internazionale)
Pazzini has already formed a menacing strikeforce along with Samuel Eto’o after his arrival which happened only at the end of January. It is absolutely fascinating how Pazzini has settled into the team and also fired on all cylinders.
His latest contribution was the winning goal against his former side Fiorentina. Pazzini has already scored 10 goals this season with 4 of those come at Inter. He is a perfect foil for Inter’s Eto’o and will look forward to combine with the lethal Cameroonian even more.
Inter Milan 3-1 Cagliari
The reverse fixture saw Inter run out winners with a narrow score line of 1-0. However, that fixture saw controversy when Samuel Eto’o was at the receiving end of racist abuse. Inter, as a team will be looking to extract the revenge by trashing Cagliari. However, Cagliari has been in a brilliant form of their own, so it is difficult to see Inter keeping a clean sheet.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST