Inter & AC Milan finally back on track, but there are still cracks beneath the surface

The cugini snapped winless streaks on Saturday, but in both cases the three points should not mask sloppy conversion and continued under-par performances
COMMENT
By Julian De Martinis

Both Inter and AC Milan finally returned to winning ways on Saturday, but attaining three points should not mask issues which still need addressing.

Claudio Ranieri’s task was simple: get Inter to win again by any means necessary, despite being a mere few days into his tenure. And while Gian Piero Gasperini’s awful winless streak was finally snapped by the former Roma coach, it was by no means pretty or dominant.

SERIE A TABLE

1 Genoa
2 Juventus
3 Udinese
4 Napoli
5 Fiorentina
6 Palermo
7 Cagliari
8 AC Milan
---
12 Inter
Played
3
3
3
4
4
3
3
4

4
Points
7
7
7
7
7
6
6
5

4
Inter enjoyed a very solid first half away to Bologna, deservedly going 1-0 up thanks to Giampaolo Pazzini’s thunderous shot. Even here, however, some blame must be ascribed to goalkeeper Jean-Francois Gillet, who managed to only get a weak hand to the striker’s shot and allow it to squeeze past him into the net.

While it would be hard to argue that Inter did not deserve their half-time lead, Bologna could have gone into the break level had their keeper been more assertive. The second half was a different story entirely, however, with Bologna far and away the more aggressive of the two sides.

The home team got a much-deserved equaliser through Walter Samuel’s silly push in the box and Alessandro Diamanti’s subsequent penalty.

In the end, Inter took the lead again entirely against the run of play. Bologna were only undone due to an awful challenge from Archimede Morleo on Diego Milito with nine minutes to go.  His subsequent red card helps account for the poor marking that allowed Lucio to so easily head the ball in for the third goal as well.

Thus Inter did get the result they needed, but only thanks to a bit of luck and Bologna shooting themselves in the foot. The 'Tinkerman' will need to live up to his moniker to draw a better performance from his new charges, but for now the three points will be more than welcome as he looks to boost Inter’s confidence and get the side back on track.

City rivals Milan were also in need of a win against Cesena, having collected only two points in their opening three fixtures. Much like Inter, the side have been hit hard by injuries and had yet to win this campaign. Further cementing the comparison, Massimiliano Allegri’s men chalked up a first victory, but have issues of their own.

Namely, the Scudetto holders seem to have trouble creating real chances out of possession. Antonio Cassano’s inspired form created too few opportunities, and only a very early Clarence Seedorf goal made the difference between the two sides.


Clarence Seedorf | Milan's matchwinner early doors

Against a bigger team there would be little to fret over, but Milan were facing lowly Cesena and had 60 per cent possession on the night, yet only produced two more shots than their opponents.

As with Inter, perhaps injuries can account for some of their miserly nature, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pato and Robinho all out of the match. However, Allegri’s men will need to prove that depth is an asset of their squad in order to retain the title in a season in which Italy looks awfully competitive.

For the time being, then, both Ranieri and Allegri achieved the result they needed, if not exactly in the manner wanted. The sides’ unconvincing style of play gives both Italian tacticians plenty to think about, however, and the revival of injured players may see many of the starters from these two games out of contention. The report card for both reads 'could do better'.

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