This week saw the start of 2014 World Cup qualifiers in some parts of the world and as usual, the Nerazzurri were represented by their players in numerous countries. However, in these early stages -- there's still some 18 months until the tournament finals -- not as many Inter players as I would've hoped for had been selected by their national head coaches.
The most obvious absences were in the Italian national team, with the Azzurri head coach Cesare Prandelli opting to omit defender Andrea Ranocchia and forward Antonio Cassano from the squad. To be fair, Prandelli had chosen a strong squad but I'm biased towards Inter players in general and in my opinion, both these players definitely deserve to return for future matches. In particular, Ranocchia has an international future; after a tough time last season where he underachieved for Inter, I feel he has really started to show some of his potential in the last few matches for the Nerazzurri.
In part one of this article I'm going to look at the matches the Inter players were called up for on Friday Sept. 7.
Fredy Guarin, Columbia
Columbia's first qualifier was against Uruguay and although Guarin was called up, he didn't make the match day squad. This is a bit disappointing for me as I'm a fan of Guarin and consider him an important player; the powerful midfielder should really be considered a regular choice in both the Inter and Columbia starting lineups. Regardless of Guarin not being on the pitch, Colombia still managed a 4-0 win over the defending Copa America champion and will travel to Chile for a match on Tuesday, hopefully with Fredy starting in their midfield.
Yuto Nagatomo, Japan
Japan only has one World Cup qualifier over the international break but did play a friendly match against the United Arab Emirates on Thursday 6th September with Alberto Zaccheroni's Japanese side winning by a single goal. Nagatomo didn't play in this friendly but I'm hoping that is because his Italian coach is wanting him to be at his best for the World cup qualifier against Iraq on Tuesday.
Wesley Sneijder, Netherlands
On Friday the Oranje managed a hard-fought 2-0 win over Turkey and in truth, the Dutch side should've made this game look a lot easier than they did. New captain Wesley Sneijder didn't have the best of games leading his national team but did have a hand in the first goal, he set up from a well-taken corner kick. His performance improved in the second half and though he linked up well on several occasions with Arjen Robben, Inter fans though know he can play much better and Netherlands coach Louis Van Gaal will be expecting his captain to up the ante against Hungary on Tuesday.
Vid Belec, Slovenia
Inter's 22-year-old goalkeeper Belec was called up for the Slovenia squad to face Switzerland on Friday though didn't even make it on to the bench, unsurprising given his third-choice keeper status. With this in mind I doubt very much that the youngster will make an appearance on Tuesday when his side takes on Norway. That said, Belec shouldn't be disheartened as he is still very young and learning his trade; being patient and just using the time training with his compatriots to help him grow as a player is what counts and I'm certain we will see him making regular appearances for both club and country in a few years time.
Walter Gargano and Alvaro Pereira, Uruguay
As mentioned early in this article Uruguay were well beaten by Colombia 4-0 on Friday and two Inter new boys, Gargano and Pereira, both represented the Nerazzurri in defeat. Pereira started the game for Uruguay and was probably the best player for a sluggish and uninspiring Uruguay, while Gargano came on as a substitute in the 73rd minute but failed to make a good impression -- he ended up receiving the game's only yellow card. Hopefully Gargano will be given another chance to shine on Tuesday when Uruguay takes on Ecuador, a game it should win convincingly.
Rodrigo Palacio, Argentina
Palacio came on as a substitute for La Albiceleste as coach Alejandro Sabella wanted to put the game beyond doubt with the Argentines leading Paraguay 2-1; yet, once captain Lionel Messi made it 3-1, Palacio was required to take a more conservative role to protect the lead. All in all he played very well and has shown that he is still a useful player for his country. Argentina will travel to Peru on Tuesday but I have the feeling Palacio will once again start from the bench. I have to say as a devoted Interista, I'm disappointed that no others from Inter's Argentinian contingent were called up for the national team as I believe that Esteban Cambiasso, Diego Milito and Javier Zanetti especially, even at 39 years old, could be useful to Argentina and as much as I like Messi, he will never be the captain that Zanetti is.