Monday, February 25, 2013

Stramaccioni Did it Again

Not a good day for Super Mario

The optimistic has been high above the sky in Milanello, as they beat the world greatest team Barcelona few days back in Champions League first knock out stage. They then faced the derby della madonnina with full of confidence against the under-perform, Internazionale Milan.

Milan fielded their best available Starting XI. Constant, Ambrosini, and Pazzini who became starter at Barcelona game replaced by De Sciglio, Nocerino and Balotelli respectively. While Inter using 4-4-2 formation with Cambiasso and Gargano played as double-pivot midfielder supported Ricky Alvarez and Fredy Guarin as paired attacking midfielder. Cassano and Palacio played up front, but practically they played wide. Andrea Ranocchia managed to play although he has to deal with his injury.

That optimistic was justified at the first half of the match in San Siro. Mario Balotelli, who is cup-tied and fully fit because of didn’t play against Barcelona, was being a constant threat for Inter defense. He was menacing with his header, free kick, and he managed to create chances for his team mates. If it had not been Samir Handanovic, Milan would have led by two goals or three in first 45 minutes.

Inter also showing poor defenses. Goal from El Shaarawy came from mistake by the Japanese Yuto Nagatomo, who didn’t track the Italian young striker who burst the through ball and then beat Slovenian international with a good strike. Milan was superb at first half, they dominated the possession and attack from both wings. El Shaarawy combined well with De Sciglio. The 20 year old defender, who is naturally a right full back did well as a left back both attack and defense. It looks like Nagatomo could not cope them both. However, only one goal ahead is a slender lead.

Only a goal conceded from many chances created was good enough for Nerazzuri. They had their time fixing everything in the next 45 minutes. Stramaccioni did well in the dressing room, he showed his great tactical ability by switching Nagatomo with the captain Javier Zanetti. The 39 year old Argentinian never looked old anyway. He’s still got pace and strength to limit El Shaarawy’s movement. While Nagatomo use his attacking ability to limit Abate’s threat from the right side.

Fredy Guarin also deserved credit. The Colombian midfielder showed his ability to be a playmaker, but unlike Wesley Sneijder and Philippe Coutinho, he also have a good defensive awareness. He tracks back and interrupt Montolivo in the heart of Milan’s midfield. He’s got a good pace, strength and sometime he threat with his shot. At one moment, he almost get the equalizer when he flick the cross from the right, but Abbiati’s full stretch save thwart the goal.

Stramaccioni then put Ezequiel Schelotto for Cambiasso. It was a brilliant substitution as the Italian international combine well with Zanetti to give more pressure to El Shaarawy and De Sciglio. His pace, cross and movement were what Inter need. The magic moment came just a few minutes after he’s coming. A good cross from Nagatomo could not reached by Mexes, then Schelotto in the right time and the right place headed the ball straight to the right corner of Abbiati’s goal.

That goal gave a glimmer of hope for Il Biscione. With the crowds behind them they keep on controlling the game. Strama then made another two substitutions. Kuzmanovic and Chivu came on for Alvarez and Nagatomo. Kuzmanovic’s excellent ball control kept Nerazzuri’s possession. He also initiate the attack, distribute well and give cover to defense.

Allegri then made 3 substitutions in last 10 minutes. Niang, Bojan and Ambrosini came on for Boateng, El Shaarawy and Muntari. It may be too late as both Bojan and Niang didn’t give their impact as a game changer. Inter’s confident was too high and their defense has been in a formidable form. A few dribble attempt by Bojan to get pass Zanetti ended miserably as the Nerazzuri captain did well to close down the ex Barcelona forward.

Milan’s inability to end the game more quickly is the key for Inter’s turnaround. A fine display by Samir Handanovic was the inspiration and for that he deserves a man of the match. Balotelli's failure to find a net was also the cause of this result. The striker has tried everything, but ended without scoring. The moment when he kicked the goal post at the first half has showed enough his frustation. 

The tactical change and the inspired substitution performed by Stramaccioni also important. Milan need to be more clinical on their attack, they need to score more goals in first half because defending one goal is too hard for them. The derby game itself has never been an easy game. It was a high tension, many cards shown by the referee. It was a hard game, and never meant to be an easy one. Milan has never beaten Inter in last 4 matches. Under Stramaccioni, Inter won 2 times and manage to get 1 draw. A good record for the young coach.

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