“If the game ends in a draw, it won’t be dramatic“. Those were the words of the ‘Special One’ before Sampdoria-Inter. And a draw it was, thus somewhat spoiling the debut of José’s Serie A adventure. The culprit in this occasion? Gennaro Delvecchio, author of the Sampdoria equalizer at the 68 minute mark, who rendered the early 1-0 Inter lead (courtesy of Zlatan Ibrahimovic) vain.
This was a tense match, especially in the final 15 minutes. Much contrary to expectations, Marassi had spawned a very determined Sampdoria team today, firmly decided to produce rain on the Inter Milan party. Angelo Palombo was absolutely outstanding (no wonder Lippi’s starting to notice) and Walter Mazzarri’s boys could even have snatched the win, had it not been for the lapses of concentration of Antonio Cassano.
Note: I just got back from my 8-hour Paris-Montreal flight , so please accept my apologies for the lack of updates this week-end.
(From Gazzetta dello Sport): Tonight’s starting eleven for Inter were the same ones seen in the Italian Supercoppa six days ago, but compared to their performance in that game, the Nerazzurri had considerably decreased their playing efficiency along the flanks and simply did not have the same “humph” in midfield. Figo was unable to create space for himself, whilst Mancini was only dangerous when moving towards the centre (as he did in the play resulting in Ibrahimovic’s goal), and the merit was all Sampdoria’s: solid along the flanks with Stankevicius & Pieri and careful in defence, the only fault one could find in Mazzarri’s team was their lack of conviction in mounting their attacks.
A MEASURED START- From kick-off to Ibrahimovic’s diagonal effort in the 33rd (virtually their first shot on net), there was very little emotion in the game. Effectively Inter took the lead with very first chance they had, but this was a play heavily contested by the Sampdoria players (and probably rightfully so, tainted by Zlatan’s arm/chest control). In a game which was struggling to take on any sense of fluidity, the 1-0 Inter goal however took on even greater significance. It was now Mazzarri having to change his on-field structure, but the fact that referee Roberto Rosetti needed to summon Mourinho & friends back from the half-time break (Inter were well taking their time in the changing room) gives weight to the argument the “Special One” had spoken at great length about all things that went wrong in the first half.
GAME RHYTHM - Once again in the second half it was Sampdoria’s intensity that set the tone of the match. Palombo countered and defended ball after ball, which caused Inter to pull back the lines of their attack and slow down the game, shifting the balance between physical & technical more towards the former (and thus obviously playing into the Blucerchiati’s hand).
And thus the Nerazzurri defense started to suffer. Marco Materazzi (out injured since July 29) intercepted a low cross from Cassano to Delvecchio, then Javier Zanetti came very close to concending a penalty for a handball inside the box (not seen by Rosetti). Eventually, the Sampdoria equalizer wasn’t exactly a surprise, although in this particular occasion Gennaro Delvecchio’s quick tap-in was as much deserved as it was fortunate. 1-1.
SUPER SAMP – After the equalizer, the game drastically shifted in pace and produced a very exciting last twenty minutes (a completely different match almost). Mourinho, who had already substituted Mancini with Mario Balotelli before the equalizer, increased his offensive power with Herna Crespo and Luis Jiménez (on for Figo and Muntari). However it was in defence that things were not going to plan, and it was only the wasteful accuracy (or lack thereof) of Cassano (through on goal towards Julio Cesar but waiting too long to take the shot) that saved Inter from a worse fate. Contrary to their game vs. Roma, Balotelli wasn’t able to effect a change of pace in the Nerazzurri (even managing to anger Ibrahimovic due to a couple of poorly-executed passes). The Swede was thus forced to take things into his own hands, almost setting up Jiménez with a winning diving-header deflection.
When all is said and done, Sampdoria more than deserved their draw. This match gave weight to Mourinho’s prediction last Saturday that the season would be “a marathon”. But like all marathons or endurance events, the Serie A league isn’t a race which you lose in the first kilometer…
|GOALSCORERS: 33’ Ibrahimovic (I), 68’ G.Delvecchio (S)
| SAMPDORIA (3-5-1-1): Mirante – Campagnaro (79’ Lucchini), Gastaldello, Accardi – Stankevicius (58’ M.Padalino), Sammarco, Palombo, D.Franceschini, Pieri – G.Delvecchio (86’ Dessena) – Cassano. (bench: Fiorillo, Ziegler, Fornaroli, Bottinelli). Coach: Mazzarri.
| INTER (4-3-3): Julio Cesar – Maicon, Cambiasso, Materazzi, Maxwell – J.Zanetti, Stankovic, Muntari (72’ Jiménez) – Figo (72’ Crespo), Ibrahimovic, Mançini (64’ Balotelli). (bench: Toldo, Córdoba, Dacourt, Cruz). Coach: Mourinho.