San Siro, Milan, Italy
January 30, 2011, 19:30 IST
Down back to Earth
Champions Inter were bought back down to Earth last week when they were defeated by Udinese in an entertaining game at the Friuli. The Nerazzurri had won all their games in 2011 till then under their newly appointed coach Leonardo. Inter had taken the lead against Udinese but the home side craved their way back into the game after goals from Di Natale, Zapata and Domizzi.
However, Inter did get their confidence back after they defeated Napoli in the Coppa Italia, which had to be decided through a penalty shootout. The home side scored 4 of their penalties whilst Inter converted all their 5 penalties to go through to the next round. On the other hand, Inter have been in the news for the signing of Italian striker Pazzini from Sampdoria and Kharja from Genoa, with the latter being a loan move till June.
2011 has been a roller coaster ride for Palermo, and they defeated Parma in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday and reached the semi-final. Yet again, this match was also decided on penalties after the game produced no goals in 120 minutes.
Palermo also won their last league game against Brescia with a 1-0 score line at home. The Aquile sit in 7th position, 1 point behind Juventus and 3 points behind the elusive 4th Champions League spot. However, Palermo hasn’t been impressive on their travels as they have managed to win only thrice.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Sneijder, Samuel, Julio Cesar and Milito are injured. New signing Pazzini too is unavailable. Stankovic, Chivu and Cordoba are suspended, which has reduced Leonardo’s squad to bare bones.
With so many players injured and suspended, Inter will definitely be tested against Palermo, who are in a rich vein of form. Injuries have especially paralysed the defense, where Samuel is out for the season whilst Cordoba is suspended, leaving Materazzi to partner Lucio. Castelazzi will continue in goal as Julio Cesar is still out injured. Inter will look to approach this game in a positive manner, but will be susceptible to counter-attacks especially with the likes of Pastore and Micolli looking to hurt them. This may just push Inter to keep as much possession as possible and dictate the game through the middle.
Possible Line-up: Castelazzi, Maicon, Lucio, Materazzi, Zanetti, Motta, Cambiasso, Mariga, Pandev, Bibiany, Eto’o
Hernandez, Pinilla and Goian are injured and will miss the trip to Milan. Carrozzieri remains suspended.
Palermo will be applying their traditional 4-3-2-1 formation, which automatically becomes a 4-5-1 when they don’t have the ball and a 4-3-3 with them having possession. The Aquile will know that Inter are a formidable side at the San Siro, which will lead them to pack the midfield and try to hit Inter on the counter. Pastore will be looking to dictate and link up the play between his midfield and the lone forward Micolli. So , Inter will try to cut the service to the emerging Argentinian. Palermo will know that Inter can be beaten in wide areas, and thus will try to exploit Inter’s weaknesses.
Possible Lineup: Sirigu, Casani, Munez, Bovo, Balzeretti, Migliaccio, Bacinovic, Nocerino, Pastore, Ilicic, Micolli.
Inter Milan: W-L-W-W-W
1) Palermo has failed to beat Inter in their last eight matches since 2005.
2) Inter have won 6 out of their last 9 encounters against Palermo, drawing the other 3.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Javier Pastore (Palermo): The young Argentine hot-shot has been in brilliant form for the Aquile this season and is the primary source of creativity for them. He has also been linked with a possible move to Inter alongside the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona. However, the Argentine has committed himself to Palermo’s cause and will be looking to go the Champions League with his current side.
He will be looking to raise his stock against an in-form Inter side that will definitely test him by trying to cut the service provided to him. However, if there’s one man who can get anything for Palermo out of this match, it will be this emerging super talent.
Inter Milan 2-1 Palermo
Inter will know that this is a very important game for them to win, for keeping themselves alive in the title race. So, one can expect them to go for a win. On the other hand, the Aquile will be looking to get a point, which would be a practical target for them. One can expect a hard fought game, with the Nerazzurri eventually winning it by a solitary goal.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST