San Siro, Milan, Italy
May 22 2011, 09:30 PM IST (+0530 GMT)
Before Inter head into the Coppa Italia final on May 29th, they have one more stop to make in the league and indeed, the final one – away to Catania. It has been a topsy-turvy season for Inter. Starting off in positive fashion with a Super Cup triumph over Roma, they couldn’t repeat that against Atletico Madrid in the European Super Cup; however, they regained some momentum back by winning the Club World Cup for the first time in their history. However, the positives ended there as they lost the league to Milan and suffered a humiliating double loss to German side Schalke in the Champions league thus ensuring their elimination from the competition after winning it last year. After arguably a long and tiring season, Inter will be looking to end it on a high when they visit Catania on the final matchday of the Serie A season and will be hoping to carry the momentum to the Coppa Italia final.
Whilst Inter have had a mixed season, Catania have had an average season; they lie 11th in the table, way clear of relegation and too far away from European fight after 37 rounds of league action in Italy. Catania though, can still finish between 10th and 15th and will be aiming to finish in the top ten if Genoa stumbles on the final day. They are on a good run, having won 3 out of their last 4 games and will be looking to add another win to that. Leonardo, meanwhile, has emphasized the importance of this game for Inter ahead of the cup final.
TEAM NEWS AND TACTICAL BRIEF
Dejan Stankovic started kicking the ball again after missing the last month and a half with a hamstring injury. Julio Cesar is yet to shake off his back problem but is expected to be up and running for the game. Sneijder is still a doubt for the clash and looks like Leonardo will rest the Dutchman ahead of the cup final. Cordoba and Suazo are long term casualties and are expected to sit out the remaining two matches.
Inter have nothing to play for in this league match which will prompt Leonardo to rest his best players for the cup final. Julio Cesar might start in goal pending his injury status and gain fitness before the Cup final. Maicon, Ranocchia, Chivu and Samuel will start as a makeshift back four with Lucio being rested. Pandev, Mariga, Motta and Zanetti will form the midfield while Eto’o and Milito will be the striking force for Inter.
The Nerazzurri will be looking to end their season with a positive display of attacking football but more importantly, they will have to come up well in defense after a season of inconsistent displays at the back. Ahead of the cup final, this will be crucial and Inter as well may play on the counter, in order to negate the home side’s own ambitions to triumph and finish in the top ten. Inter are expected to sit back and play easy; the main motive being avoiding any injuries ahead of the cup final and gaining match practice.
Probable Starting XI: Cesar; Maicon, Ranocchia, Chivu, Nagatomo; Mariga, Kharja, Motta, Zanetti; Eto’o, Milito
There are no major injury concerns for mid-table Catania and a possibility of a top ten finish should fuel Diego Simeone’s thoughts to start his best players against the Milan giants.
Andujar will start in goal, guarded by the back four of Potenza, Matias Silvestre, Flaco, and Capuano. The midfield trio of Ledesma, Carboni, and Biagianti will be the key to keeping the midfield advantage for Catania. Gomez, Maxi Lopez and Bergessio will form the front three and will be looking to make most of the opportunities upfront.
Probable Starting XI: Andujar; Potenza,Matias,Flaco,Capuano; Ledesma,Carboni,Biagianti; Gomez,Maxi Lopez,Bergessio
1. Catania are undefeated in their last 4 games. Their last defeat came at the hands of Lazio when the latter thrashed Catania 4-1.
2. Inter confirmed their second place finish with a draw against Napoli last week.
3. The last five games these two have played against each other have all ended in results with Inter grabbing 4 wins and Catania winning the other one.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Diego Milito (Internazionale)
Milito has seen very little action this term because of injuries or lack of fitness. After having a spectacular campaign last season, he was certainly missed at Inter. However, Eto’o has plugged the gap considerably well. Yet, an in-form Milito paired up with Eto’o is a much more dangerous combination than the Cameroonian alone. Ahead of the cup final, expect Milito to roar back to form with a goal or two against a vulnerable Catania back four.
Inter 1-1 Catania
With virtually nothing to play for and a cup final to look forward to, Inter will probably play in a lower gear and look to see out the 90 minutes of action without any injury concerns. Catania have an outside chance of sneaking into the top ten if they win against Inter provided Genoa stumble on the final day of the campaign. Both of those possibilities look unlikely currently. Expect a dead rubber game that might end up with both the teams sharing the spoils at the San Siro.