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The midfielder has moved into the hole behind the front two to great effect of late, and it was thanks to him that the Nerazzurri kept the status quo in the Champions League race

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By Kris Voakes | Italian Football Writer

They weren’t really in the game for much of the first half, but Inter snatched an equaliser just before the interval against Roma on Sunday night. Such has been the Giallorossi's form at home this season, nothing can ever be ruled out. Add in the fact that Fredy Guarin had his fingerprints all over the Nerazzurri’s leveller, and Zdenek Zeman’s outfit were not on their guard, the goal came as no surprise.

For the Colombian, it was just another game in which he showed how dangerous a player he is in the final third. Since being switched from an orthodox midfield role, the ex-Porto man has backed up Goal.com’s assertion that he could become Inter’s key attacker. And what’s more, the soft centre that was undermining the Beneamata’s campaign has largely tightened up too at the same time.

With Guarin in the last third, Inter suddenly have a difference-maker again. Once Wesley Sneijder was off the scene, there was largely a more regimented approach about their game, with only Antonio Cassano able to take their attacking style out of the ordinary. Now, Guarin has brought an extra dimension in the final third.

GUARIN'S RECENT UPTURN
v NAPOLI
v VERONA (cup)
v LAZIO
v UDINESE
v PESCARA
v BOLOGNA (cup)
v ROMA

His power, ability to find space, and eye for a pass have all contributed to make him the most convincing No.10 at the club since Sneijder was in his 2010 pomp. No longer are his deficiencies off the ball which plagued his play in midfield such an issue. Instead he is being asked simply to cause damage in possession, and he is largely excelling in the role.

Andrea Stramaccioni may have been slow on the uptake, but having made the move now, there can be no turning back. With Ricardo Alvarez and Philippe Coutinho having both struggled to make a lasting impression so far in the black and blue, it should remain the Colombian’s job for the foreseeable future. His assist for Rodrigo Palacio’s equaliser was just the latest example of why he’s the best option in the role vacated by Galatasaray-bound Sneijder.

Inter are far from a finished product, and in many respects they are as far from answers now as they were when Stramaccioni took the reins 10 months ago, but Guarin is alongside goalkeeper Samir Handanovic the closest thing they have to an undroppable first-teamer at the moment.

The regular defensive trio of Andrea Ranocchia, Walter Samuel and Juan Jesus have their good points, but all three have failed their side at stages this term. Meanwhile, there are still more questions than answers in midfield.

The use of Guarin further up has taken away their most work-shy player in that department, and Javier Zanetti’s loss of possession in the build-up to Roma’s penalty at the Olimpico was a reminder that even the Argentine cannot possibly maintain his high standards forever.

Meanwhile, Walter Gargano has looked slightly more at ease of late but is still nowhere near the level he was during his spell at Napoli. Esteban Cambiasso’s performances have also deteriorated, while Alvaro Pereira is a better wide midfielder than full-back, but that is not saying much, and the less said about Jonathan the better. Yuto Nagatomo remains a consistent if not outstanding presence.

However, the midfield is at least more obdurate now. They may have been outplayed to begin with against Roma, but they were more solid than they have previously been. Stramaccioni is slowly beginning to make the most of the tools at his disposal. And in Guarin, he has the sharpest tool in the box.

ELSEWHERE...
  • Morgan De Sanctis used Napoli's trip to Fiorentina to give the latest example as to why he not only should no longer be considered as the alternative to Gianluigi Buffon as Italy's No.1, but why the Partenopei should be on the lookout for a new shot-stopper. The ex-Udinese keeper has long since been a liability coming off his line and in terms of organisation, but the concession of a goal from Facundo Roncaglia's simple long punt marked a new low even for him. Top goalkeepers are not exactly ten-a-penny in modern football, but almost everyone bar De Sanctis' current understudy Antonio Rosati - who struggled throughout Napoli's Europa League group campaign - would be an improvement right now.
  • M'Baye Niang turned in another excellent performance down the right for Milan as the Rossoneri handed Bologna their second San Siro defeat in 96 hours. The youngster's pace, power, direct running and sheer belief combined to give Nicolo Cherubin a real runaround, and on another day, Giampaolo Pazzini could have had many more goals than the two which saw Milan to victory, such was the sheer number of opportunities Niang helped to fashion. The latest great showing from a Diavolo prodigy backed up the club's policy of refocusing on the stars of the future, something they may do well to remember in their ongoing pursuit of Kaka.
  • Luigi Del Neri's sacking at Genoa was inevitable almost from the moment Gonzalo Bergessio put Catania ahead four minutes into their clash at Marassi. The former Sampdoria coach has shown a lack of adaptability during his short spell with the Grifone, somewhat forcing the hand of president Enrico Preziosi, who moved to fire Del Neri straight after full-time in the 2-0 defeat. New coach Davide Ballardini becomes the club's seventh appointment in just 26 months since the sacking of relative stalwart Gian Piero Gasperini, who himself is on the verge of facing the boot again, at Palermo, after his side threw away two points late on against Lazio on Saturday.
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