By David Rodich
The phrase “quatro coppa” could be heard being muttered between the rumbling chants of Inter fans around the world on Saturday. With victory secured over Roma at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Inter now has a fourth cup to add to last year’s famous treble. Victory did not come easy though, and Rafael Benitez’s tactics showed weak points at the back.
While the match started with Inter having a good deal of possession, their defense played a high line and was uncharacteristically porous, allowing several early Roma counter attack opportunities. In the 21st minute Roma captain Totti found John Arne Riise on a slicing run between Zanetti, and a turned around Samuel. The Norwegian coolly finished into the bottom right corner with the kind of class expected of the veteran. Inter continued to press forward, and their efforts were rewarded with a Goran Pandev goal in the 42nd minute resulting from a sloppy pass in the Roma defense.
The second half began with a switch in momentum seeing Roma doing the most of the attacking and Inter occasionally countering. One transition effort in the 64th minute resulted in a Milito goal that was controversially called back due to an off-side call – which seemed to shock the Nerazzurri to life. In the 70th minute Lucio made a probing run with the ball up the middle of Roma’s defense and passed it outside to Milito who found Eto open in the middle for the finish. The Cameroon national then scored again in the 80th minute after more Inter pressure and untidy play in the back from Roma.
Rafael Benitez, who was hired after the departure of Jose Mourinho, is safe (for now) from the unforgiving Milanese media, but adjustments may need to be made. This time taking the risk of playing a high back line paid off, but not without several saves from legendary goalkeeper Julio Cesar and squandered chances from Roma.
On the plus side, the team, with a starting 11 unchanged from last year’s Champion League final, was able to maintain pressure up the field, providing two of Inter’s three goals. It also gave the squad numbers to attack, and with Sneijder assuming the play-maker role and Eto and Pandev regularly switching sides, there was fluidity and style to the build-ups. Maicon of course made several streaking runs up his right wing, and Milito was a constant threat in the middle.
The club hopes to continue its winning ways to go for six trophies in 2010 by winning next week’s European Super Cup against Europa League winners, Atlético Madrid, and then the FIFA Club World Cup in December.
Inter also has high hopes of continuing their Serie A domination by starting off their campaign positively against Bologna on Monday August 30.