Sampdoria 3-0 Inter: Cassano & Pazzini Put Three Holes in the Nerazzurri Battleship (Coppa Italia Semi-Finals, First Leg)

Coppa Italia 2008-09 - SF L1 - Sampdoria vs. Inter Milan

“A big Blucerchiati slap in the face”: there’s little more to be added for José Mourinho after Coppa Italia’s Sampdoria vs. Inter Semi-Finals match. Thanks to the goal by Cassano, the brace by Pazzini, and the saves of Castellazzi, Sampdoria walked all over their Nerazzurri opponents Wednesday, virtually putting one foot and a half into the big final match in Rome.

After conceding three vs. Roma on Sunday and three vs. Sampdoria yesterday, one has to wonder what on Earth is going through the minds of Inter’s defensive line-up at the moment (and particularly, the man picking them out). It wouldn’t take a big stretch of the imagination to postulate José’s anti-Juve and anti-Roma rant earlier this week, psychologically (and adversely) affected his team’s concentration & tranquillity. Or perhaps was it the team had already their minds set on the UCL return leg vs. Man Utd?

Either way, after taking much time to point out Milan and Roma would finish the season with “zero titles”, Mourinho seems to have thrown one out the window himself. For it is hard to foresee any way in which Sampdoria can blow their 3-0 lead at San Siro in two weeks’ time, so good was the entente between Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini. One was the assist-provider and playmaker, the other the ruthless finisher in front of the net. Comparisons are already being drawn with Vialli/Mancini. Call it coincidence, but the last two times Sampdoria eliminated Inter (1988, 1994) they went on to win the Coppa Italia trophy…

Sampdoria 3-0 Inter: Cassano & Pazzini Put Three Holes in the Nerazzurri Boat (Coppa Italia Semi-Finals, First Leg)

Coppa Italia 2008-09 - SF L1 - Sampdoria 3-0 Inter Milan

Walter Mazzarri put his best line-up on the park for Samp Wednesday. Mourinho on the other hand, with Manchester United looming, resorted to squad rotation: changing the tactical approach and fielding a four-man defence (Rivas, Cordoba, Materazzi and Maxwell), with J.Zanetti, Vieira and Muntari to support the midfield line behind the striking trio of Mancini, Adriano and Balotelli (Zlatan was still injured). Anyone who expected to see the usual craftiness, physical power, and ball possession of Inter was in for a surprise however, especially because Sampdoria had come fully prepared of their own.

As was the case on Sunday against Milan, the Blucerchiati were firing on all cylinders. Skilled in their plays down the flanks with the overlaps, always looking for the right opening for Cassano and Pazzini, the Ligurians capitalized on their speed and particularly, on the glaring errors in the Nerazzurri defence. It only took 9 minutes, with Cassano snatching the ball off Rivas (terrible tonight) and beating Toldo with a chipped effort. 1-0 Sampdoria.

Antonio Cassano celebrates the 1-0 goal.

Inter’s response lacked cohesion: Mancini seemed a ship lost at see (where was the pace that made him such a great player at Roma), Adriano struggled to free himself from some tenacious marking and Balotelli, even though he was working the hardest, often tried (selfishly) to do it all by himself. This match was all about Samp… and what a great Samp it was: at the 30 minute mark the Blucerchati doubled their lead, after a Raggi-deflected corner-kick found a completely unmarked Pazzini in front of Toldo for the winning header. 2-0 Sampdoria. Just like that.

Inter were overwhelmed. Zanetti and Vieira’s experience should have made the difference in midfield but it just wasn’t their evening, and the ones paying the consequences were were the less skilled players like Muntari, who gave Cassano acres of space to advance and try his trickeries. Speaking of, Fantantonio’s great delivery for Padalino in the 42nd eventually stemmed to Samp’s third: Toldo parried, Cordoba could not clear, and an unmarked Pazzini fired it into the net. 3-0 Sampdoria at the half.

"Il Pazzo" makes it 2-0.

Early in the second period, Mourinho added some vim and vigour in the form of Maicon (off came an abysmal Rivas), but the gap was considerable and even the Brazilian wing-back’s incursions became predictable for Samp, who defended their lead without any trouble. Up to the point when the Blucerchiati let themselves get infected with some of Inter’s irritation, losing Gastaldello to a double yellow (and a useless foul on Balotelli) in the 60th minute.

Speaking of Balotelli, the Inter striker got everyone worried when he collapsed on the ground in midfield, after colliding with the Sampdoria post just a minute earlier. Fortunately Mourinho’s young striker recovered in the dressing room, while his teammates obstinately tried to come up with a goal. Obinna (on for Mario) tried his best, Crespo (on for Maxwell) tried to pull another “Roma” out of his hat, but found a fully prepared Castellazzi to block his efforts on at least two occasions. It was too late for Inter: Sampdoria kept their heads cool and left Marassi triumphant. Only an act of madness at San Siro could deny them their place in the final on April 22.

No way José...


 U.C. Sampdoria
[Match Highlights]
F.C. Internazionale Milano
GOALSCORERS: 9’ Cassano (S), 30’, 42’ Pazzini (S).
SAMPDORIA (3-5-2): Castellazzi – Campagnaro (75’ Da Costa), Gastaldello, Raggi – Ma.Padalino, Sammarco, Palombo, Franceschini, Pieri – Pazzini (66’ Stankevicius), Cassano (85’ Bellucci) (bench: Fiorillo, Ziegler, Ferri, Dessena). Coach: Russo (Mazzarri suspended).
INTER (4-3-3): Toldo – Rivas (46’ Maicon), Materazzi, Cordoba, Maxwell – J.Zanetti, Vieira, Muntari, (60’ Crespo) – Mancini, Adriano, Balotelli (65’ Obinna) (bench: Orlandoni, Stankovic, Jimenez, Cambiasso). Coach: Mourinho


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Posted in Coppa Italia, Inter, Sampdoria |

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