Posts Tagged ‘Sulley Muntari’

Inter Milan vs. Manchester United: The PLAYERS

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009


So remember that great “Serie A vs. EPL” section on La Gazzetta which I promised I’d partially translate?

Here’s the first batch of pink-goodness: a look at ALL THE PLAYERS from tonight’s Inter Milan vs. Manchester United UEFA Champions League match.

Boy I can’t wait for game-time. Meanwhile, feast your eyes on this. (oh, and credit goes where credit is due of course: the original)


Inter Milan 2-1 Napoli: Nerazzurri Wrap It Up in 30 Minutes (Serie A Matchday 14)

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Based on this week’s evidence, “Serie A” Inter and “Champions League” Inter are clearly two very different teams. Napoli realized this at their own expense Sunday, extending their 14-year long winless streak at San Siro (the Nerazzurri chapter) by one more match. José Mourinho’s made winning by a one-goal difference a habit lately, but the Inter manager also raked in his 6th consecutive home victory in the domestic league.

As for Napoli they battled hard till the end, fighting back through the wild & unstoppable runs of Ezequiel Lavezzi, but paid a steep price for their “disappearance” during the match’s first 30 minutes. Córdoba and Muntari left their mark, leaving Inter with a 6-point advantage on direct rivals Juventus and AC Milan.


Inter Milan 1-0 Juventus: Convincing Performance and Lucky Goal, Mourinho’s Winning Ingredients (Serie A Matchday 13)

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

The Jose Mourinho stamp on this Inter Milan team is set. Now more than ever. Strong & well-organized tactics, a determined athletic performance from all players, and a winning mentality: the psychological drive necessary to come out as victors in the ever-difficult Derby d’Italia fixture.

And too bad if the match-winning goal came through a fortunate tap-in by Muntari (receiving an Ibrahimovic pass which, all evidence suggests, was in fact a shot): that is what great teams do. They rake in the wins, and all goals count. Fortuitous or not.

Juventus lost today, but must not be faulted. True, there are now 6 points separating them from their Nerazzurri rivals, but the Bianconeri’s performance had many positive notes (Chiellini and Sissoko above all), and was considerably handicapped by the immediate injury sustained by Tiago in the 2nd minute of play.


The New Face of Inter Milan (Gazzetta)

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

In today’s Gazzetta dello Sport, there’s a great article by Antonino Morici that makes a preliminary analysis on José’s Inter, at least based on their first-competitive-match performance in Sunday’s Supercoppa.

It’s still early for season assessments, but given that Gazzetta are generally experts in all things Inter and AC Milan, this one’s a pretty good read:

Gazzetta dello Sport website logo

MILAN, 25 August 2008 – It’s very tempting to give in to the charisma of a boss like Mourinho. Unlike his stints in Portugal and England, José continues to have everyone on his side and deservedly so, because pre-season fixtures and the first “real” match of the year (against an opponent well within Inters’s calibre) have proven him right so far. Even if we are still on the starting blocks, and the competition (beginning with Roma) is very tough, the Italian Super Cup offered the possibility to assess how the “Special One” has been able to get under the skin of Inter Milan, a team that before his term had won 2 league titles, 2 Italian Cups and 2 Super Cups in three years’ time.

MENTALITY - In four years of Roberto Mancini, only in very few occasions did we ever see 3 attacking players on the pitch at the same time. Apart from differences in the line-up however, the main discrepancy seems to be philosophical: Zlatan Ibrahimovic continues to be the main reference point, but unlike before when Inter based their strength on physical superiority, eagerly searching for depth with two attackers or trying a vertical play with a trequartista (Stankovic, Jiménez or Figo), the Nerazzurri have now found their centre of gravity on the wings, continuously changing fronts and going deep with their “ball on the ground” style. Against Roma for instance, Inter paid particular attention to seemingly trivial play situations: for example, Figo (not exactly a rookie) would rush along the wing to hinder Riise’s powerful throw-in, giving the impression this was part of a perfectly thought-out plan.

INTENSITY – During the first half, the pace and quality of the nerazzurri were impressive. “We had decided to put pressure on Roma in their first phase (i.e. the start-up) because we knew that it was one of their main strengths” said Mourinho yesterday evening. In fact, Spalletti got very little out of his wingers, who were limited to stay “low” thanks to Figo and especially Mancini (who more than once kept close guard on Cassetti, all the way down to the end line). In the center, two midfield dams: the first formed by Sulley Muntari and Javier Zanetti, the other by Dejan Stankovic (reborn in the role of “back” playmaker in front of the defence, and very accurate with his passes). With the spaces closed, Inter could highlight the individual skills of their players: the right-wing line (Maicon-Figo) worked very efficiently with Ibrahimovic (creating three scoring chances in the first 30 mins), much to the delight of the ex-Barcelona and Real Madrid player, finally back to his natural winger position.

BALOTELLI – Finally, extra time simply highlighted what can be expected of someone like Balotelli over the next few years. At 18 years of age and with a serious possibility of playing many matches in José’s attacking trio, Mario has shown to be fully deserving of the trust placed into him by Mourinho, exhibiting quality with free-kicks, moving passes through the lines (which led to the 2-1 goal), the personality shown when facing opponents like Mexès and Juan, or his cool finishing inside the box. We get the strong feeling we are about to see a real phenomenon in action, one who (assuming he resists the instinct of giving in to nerves) might make his Azzurro dream come true much earlier than anticipated.

SUPERCOPPA ITALIANA 2008: Penalty Kicks Give INTER & JOSÉ First Trophy of the Season

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Ladies & gentlemen, the new Serie A season has been launched! Yes, Day 1 only begins on August 31 “officially”, but Sunday night’s Supercoppa appetizer provided enough excitement and entertainment, it almost looks like we’re in it already.

Indeed, the traditional pre-season clash between Scudetto champions and Coppa Italia winners resulted in 4 goals and 120 minutes of very intense battling, where the psychological boost from a win is every bit as important as the silverware. In the end, Inter triumphed over Roma on penalty kicks, the determining shots being made by the two team captains: where Francesco Totti had failed Javier Zanetti succeeded, giving the Nerazzurri the fourth Supercoppa title of their history.

(From Gazzetta): Compared to “ancient” history, the two Serie A dominators of the past 3 years are looking a lot more alike. Tactics-wise firstly (with two wingers dropping back all the way to the goal line, if necessary), and also because of that midfield “pivot” dynamo (Pizarro on one side, Stankovic on the other). Inter however are the team who experienced the biggest changes, at least concerning the playing mentality, and in that sense appeared more motivated. The only two Summer transfers, Sulley Muntari and Amantino Mancini, were immediately fielded in the starting eleven, while veteran Esteban Cambiasso was forced in an increasingly more-frequent center-back role, in order to patch up the missing links of the Inter roster (this seemed like an explicit message to Nelson Rivas, kinda like José’s saying: “sorry, but you’re second choice buddy”).

On the other end, Roma coach Luciano Spalletti preferred Mirko Vucinic (over new signing Julio Baptista) as the lone striker, reverting “The Beast” on the outside wing instead. The ex-Real Madrid player was virtually absent from the match’s first half, but made important progress in the second (especially after the entrance of Francesco Totti, kept on the bench as a precautionary measure).

Much like “The Beast” however, Roma midfield anchors Daniele De Rossi and Alberto Aquilani were having a tough time in the first 45 minutes, pushed back by the Mourinho-dictated Nerazzurri plan (dividing the field in sections, and attacking first on one side then on the other). Dejan Stankovic notably, seemed a shadow of his former past-two-years self (and that’s a good thing!), providing with a certain Luis Figo (finally back to his true winger role) the main passing/crossing service for Inter, supported as always by the genius of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

In minute 18 the Inter battleship sank its first target, courtesy of Sulley Muntari: the ex-Udinese and Portsmouth midfielder initiated a beautiful one-touch Nerazzurri play (leading to a powerful Maicon shot deflected onto the crossbar by Mexès) and gave his team the lead with a rippling left-footed effort. 1-0 Inter, a scoreline which was left unchanged all the way to the half.

After the break, it seemed that Mourinho’s boys could easily control the proceedings until the full-time whistle: Javier Zanetti stung the fingers of Doni from long-range, while based on the quality of his touches/passing, Ibrahimovic’s knee problems seemed a thing of the past. However, and much against the run of play, 2007-Supercoppa-main-man Daniele De Rossi decided to crash the Nerazzurri party: his swerving 25m effort overpowered Julio Cesar, and finally put the teams level. 1-1.

After the equalizer, it seemed as if the game had turned on its head. It was now the Giallorossi attacking and pushing Inter back, something that a guy named José was not enjoying one tiny bit: replacing Figo and Mancini with Balotelli and Jiménez, Mourinho decided to bring balance back to his midfield line, and it worked. The young Italo-Ghanain striker notably (playing his first official match as an Italian citizen) was being pins & needles in the Roma defense, forcing first Cassetti then Doni to two important clearances close to goal (the provider for those two chances? Ibrahimovic, who else). In minute 83 however there was little the Roma keeper could do, when TurboMario got in behind the Giallorossi defense (Mexès a bit at fault here) and beat Doni with a chipped effort inside the left post. 2-1 Inter.

Game over? Not in the least, especially with a team as determined as Roma. In minute 90, a David Pizarro corner was deflected by Mirko Vucinic, bouncing on its way to the top-left corner off Stankovic and Zlatan. Little Julio Cesar could do, 2-2, and match forced into overtime.

Meanwhile, Francesco Totti and Stefano Okaka had replaced Perrotta and Aquilani, while Nelson Rivas had come on for the injured Nicolas Burdisso (just before the Roma equalizer in fact), so needless to say that with the “fresh meat” a different kind of match began here. The Roma captain notably gave glimpses of his genius, with one-time long-range through balls (one of which was shamelessly wasted by Okaka), but it became rapidly obvious that Totti was still miles away from optimum form. Much unlike a certain Mario Balotelli, who in two separate free-kick occasions (a venemous curling long-range effort with a very tight angle notably) sent shivers down the spine of Roma supporters.

Just before the inevitable shoot-out lottery, the Giallorossi had one final chance to score through Okaka, but Julio Cesar deftly neutralized the through-on-goal Roma youngster. It was then time for the Totti-drama, as the Roma captain (who had the chance to win the game, after Stankovic’s mistake) sent his shot onto the crossbar, giving rival captain Javier Zanetti the opportunity to strike back. Indeed, after Julio Cesar had saved Juan’s kick, the Argentine midfielder sent an angled shot past Doni, allowing José Mourinho to grab the first official trophy of his Inter career.

Whoever said Italian football wasn’t exciting? :mrgreen:


F.C. Internazionale Milano INTER-ROMA
2-2 (8-7 p.s.o.)
[Match Highlights]
A.S. Roma
GOALSCORERS: 18’ Muntari (I), 59’ De Rossi (R), 83’ Balotelli (I), 90’ Vucinic (R)
PENALTY SHOOTOUT: Vucinic (R) goal, Ibrahimovic (I) goal, J.Baptista (R) goal, Balotelli (I) goal, Cassetti (R) goal, Stankovic (I) crossbar, De Rossi (R) goal, Maxwell (R) goal, Totti (R) crossbar, Cambiasso (I) goal, D.Pizarro (R) goal, Jiménez (I) goal, Juan (R) saved, J.Zanetti (I) goal.
INTER (4-3-3): Julio Cesar – Maicon, Burdisso (90’ Rivas), Cambiasso, Maxwell – J.Zanetti, Stankovic, Muntari – Figo (66’ Balotelli), Ibrahimovic, Mançini (70’ Jiménez). (bench: Toldo, Pelé, Crespo, Cruz). Coach: Mourinho.
ROMA (4-3-2-1): Doni – Cassetti, Mexès, Juan, Riise (78’ Tonetto) – De Rossi, D.Pizarro, Aquilani (90’ Okaka) – Perrotta (85’ Totti), J.Baptista – Vucinic. (bench: Artur, Panucci, Loria, Brighi). Coach: Spalletti.