San Siro, Milan, Italy
16th January, 2011, 01:15 IST
Back on Track
Having been a shadow of themselves in the first half of the season, Inter have managed to get back on track under new coach Leonardo. There were speculations in the media that Inter had tried to sign the man in charge in the summer, they would now be wishing they had done that. Having said that, Inter are not in a disarray exactly as they have a couple of games in hand over their rivals upon winning which the Nerazzurri can enter into the top 4 and be just 5 points off their fierce city rivals Milan. Although their last couple of wins haven’t been a stroll in the park, all the players have worked hard for each other and have found the missing confidence. Bologna might not be the sternest test the champions might face from now till the end of the season, but Leonardo has emphasized the importance of winning this one.
Legendary Inter captain Zannetti will play his 519th game for the Nerazzurri in what would be a grand occasion for the Argentine. According to the dynamic defender cum midfielder, winning the 2007 Scudetto was his biggest achievement at the same time he has expressed that he wants to win more. Off the pitch, Inter have been linked with many players to refresh the squad with none becoming concrete. Steven Pienaar is the latest to be linked with the Nerazzurri as the Everton man is looking for a move to a bigger club.
Things couldn’t get any worse for the Rosoblu off the pitch, as they have struggled to pay their players’ salaries. Due to this, the Italian FA has docked a couple of points off Bologna which has dropped them to the 15th place in the table. Just 4 points off the relegation zone isn’t a healthy thing in any league not least the Serie A which has been immensely unpredictable this season. However, on a positive note, Bologna won their last match against Bari and drew against Fiorentina in the first match after the winter break. A trip to the Champions den is not the easiest of tasks but the men in blue will look to take confidence from their New Year start and gain a point.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Sneijder, Coutinho, Samuel and Julio Cesar are still injured and will not feature. Apart from these injuries, Inter do not have any other injury setbacks. Just at the right time, the Nerazzurri are coming back on track and the injuries are easing.
Leonardo has stuck to Inter’s treble winning formation and is expected to continue with the same. Due to the unavailability of Sneijder, Stankovic will be assuming the playmaker-in-chief role. The trio of Stankovic, Milito and Eto’o will be expected to cause the relegation battlers immense trouble. Ranocchia should continue his partnership with Lucio at the centre of defense and provide the guard for Castelazzi – the stand-in goalkeeper.
Eto’o looks the same player he was before the suspension after continuing his fine form in the Coppa Italia in the midweek when he helped Inter advance to the next round. With Milito out of ammunition, Eto’o will once again be the main man and his team-mates will be counting on the Cameroonian to score the goals.
Possible Line-up: Castelazzi, Maicon, Lucio, Ranocchia, Chivu, Zannetti, Cambiasso, Motta, Stankovic, Milito, Eto’o.
Morleo, Mutarelli and Moras are unavailable for the trip to Milan because of injuries. Malesani is likely to field a 4-3-1-2 system that will have Ekdal deployed just behind the front-two of Ramirez and Di Vaio.
Bologna will be aware of the difficulty of the task that lies ahead of them. So, the men in blue will look to sustain the constant pressure of the champions and contain them. This leaves only one option for them; that is to counter attack the fragile Inter defense.
Possible Lineup: Viviano, Garics, Portanova, Britos, Rubin, Casarini, Mudingayi, Rocca, Ekdal, Di Vaio, Ramirez.
Inter Milan: W-W-W-W-W
1. Inter has won the last 6 matches out of 8 against Bologna.
2. Bologna has collected just 2 points in their last 8 outings.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Samuel Eto’o (Inter)
The Cameroonian has been a constant man in attention for the Nerazzurri this season and has been the only bright spot of the miserable campaign. He returned from suspension and showed why most defenders in Europe fear him by scoring a brace in the Coppa Italia.
With this, Eto’o will be expected to continue his scoring spree and push for the European ‘Golden Boot’ whilst helping his team win more trophies.
Inter Milan 3-0 Bologna
Traditionally, Inter have been run-away winners in this fixture. However, they weren’t able to crack Bologna in their last outing under Rafa Benitez. But having returned to form, at home, Inter should be too much for the struggling Rosoblu.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST