Bore draw shows Inter's mid-table mediocrity

Posted by Mike Whittaker

Claudio Villa/Getty ImagesInter Milan boss Andrea Stramaccioni saw his team play to their first scoreless draw of the season against Genoa.

I have very fond memories of Andrea Stramaccioni's first game at the helm of Inter against Genoa, on the 1st April 2012. It was a match that ended 5-4 at the Giuseppe Meazza to the home side, and promised a future of exciting football under the guidance of the young newly promoted coach. Fast forward just over a year and Stramaccioni's team once again faced the same Genoese side, this time away from home, however the feeling and scoreline couldn't be any more different.

- Match report: Genoa 0-0 Inter

0-0 against a Genoa side battling desperately to stay out of the relegation zone is a far cry from the buzz and excitement I recall from that previous meeting last season. This goalless draw is Inter's first and probably only one of the current campaign, and I have to admit it was the first time in many years that I can say I was bored to tears watching an Inter match.

At no point throughout the 90 minutes did I feel that Inter looked likely to score. The only time a goal even looked possible for the Nerazzurri was when Tomasso Rocchi rattled the crossbar with a long-range left footed shot from outside the area. This was one of very few chances Inter created on the Genoa goal. By their own standards, the nine shots they attempted were below par, and only hitting the target twice was just embarrassing.

When Antonio Cassano took to the pitch in place of Ricky Alvarez I was hoping to see an increase of chances for the Nerazzurri, maybe even a goal or two to mark the return of the Italian striker following his time out injured, but it was Fredy Guarin with his usual outlandish long-shots that claimed the most attempts with five in total. The lack of any real attacking threat from Inter was disappointing to say the least, especially considering the visitors held the majority of the possession throughout the match.

I understand Stramaccioni is in a difficult position coming into this game with 13 injuries and two suspensions limiting his choices when selecting the team, but all of the players on the pitch in an Inter shirt should've been capable of securing three points against a Genoa side battling for safety at the danger end of the table. Instead of a performance expected from Inter, we saw one that was more fitting to a team of a similar stature to Genoa.

It wasn't all negative for the Nerazzurri however, as we saw plenty of positive points from Stramaccioni's squad. Firstly was the welcome return of possibly the most motivated player in the club at the moment, Yuto Nagatomo, who with his usual storming runs up the left wing looked completely recovered from his injury.

Cassano's 30 minute cameo was also a welcome sight, giving the team a player that has the ability and creativity to score or create vital goals in next week's final match against Udinese.

The two players who have been consistently good for Inter this season, again made their mark against Genoa. Mateo Kovacic controlled nearly every ball forward from the midfield, with his sublime dribbling and exceptional balance on the ball, it is no wonder the 19-year-old has been drawing praise for his performances despite his team’s dire situation. Also super Samir Handanovic's world-class goalkeeping ability saved Inter's blushes on more than one occasion when the Rossoblu attackers managed to get past the away side's defenders, and held onto an important clean sheet.

The big surprise of the day for me was the outstanding performance shown by the 19-year-old Simone Pasa who was standing in for the suspended Juan Jesus. Pasa's defensive play throughout the game was fantastic, with him seeming completely at ease with the pressures of playing for his struggling senior team. For me, Simone deserves the accolade of man of the match for this game, and for me, he even overshadowed the first team regulars Andrea Ranocchia and Esteban Cambiasso who partnered him in Stramaccioni's three man defence.

Yes, Stramaccioni did play the three man back line yet again, but this time I do believe he was justified in this decision, considering his available squad only featured one wide defender, Nagatomo; it would've been insanity to risk playing Ezequiel Schelotto as the right-back. Playing Cambiasso in the centre of the three gave the team a much more solid defensive wall.

As much as I'm disappointed with this latest draw, the result is much better than another defeat. Though, it does nothing to improve the finishing position Inter will probably find themselves in after next week's final game, and with Catania's win over Pescara on Saturday, the Nerazzurri find themselves dropping another place to a miserable mid-table ninth.

Next week's final fixture against Udinese will be an almost impossible task to win, given both team's recent form, and even if Inter can secure a surprise victory, the best they can hope for now is an eighth place finish, their equal worst since 1999. If they lose against Udinese however, you have to go all the way back to the 1993-94 season to find a worse finishing position, in that year they placed 13th out of a 18 team league.

The end of this campaign really can't come quick enough for me, but despite it all I am still confident that Massimo Moratti and Inter will make the right choices, and the necessary changes that the club desperately needs to reaffirm themselves as one of the top teams in Italy, instead of this mediocre mid-table imposter that has emerged in the first half of 2013.

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