Inter Milan vs. Bologna: 5 Things We Learned from the Coppa Italia Quarterfinal

Colin O'Brien@@ColliOBrienContributor IJanuary 15, 2013

Inter Milan vs. Bologna: 5 Things We Learned from the Coppa Italia Quarterfinal

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    Well, that was some match.

    Leading 2-0 and looking comfortable, Inter fell asleep and let Bologna back into it before both sides struggled through 30 minutes of added time. Ranocchia's goal in the dying seconds was harsh on the visitors, but it made great watching for the neutral. 

    Ahead of Tuesday night's Coppa Italia encounter, Inter coach Andrea Stramaccioni said that his side would be giving the competition the respect it deserved. The Roman even went as far to say that progressing was as important to them as their Serie A and Europa League form. 

    Both Inter and Bologna approached the game in the right way, with strong squads and plenty of attacking intent.

    So what stood out in this encounter? Read on to find out. 

Fredy Guarín Is on Fire

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    Fredy Guarín is the man to watch in Italy right now. 

    As I've said before, part of the reason that Inter don't seem overly concerned about Wesley Sneijder's departure is that there are other players already in the squad who actually offer more than the Dutchman.

    Guarín is one of them.

    The versatile Columbian took his 34th-minute goal expertly and was a threat going forward all night. He also creates plenty of chances for others—like the beautiful pass he slotted through for an offside Pereira shortly after scoring—while still tracking back in midfield. 

    His return of eight goals so far in all competitions underlines his ability, but it's his all-round contribution on which his manager has come to rely. 

Alberto Gilardino Is a Great Signing for Bologna

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    Bologna did well to sign Alberto Gilardino on loan from Genoa.

    He has bags of experience leading the line for AC Milan, Fiorentina and the Italian national side, and at only 30, he has enough left in the legs to serve the Rossoblù well for several seasons, should they make the move permanent.

    The former Piacenza man occasionally showed flashes of great ability and was Bologna's main threat in front of Handanovic's goal. The Slovenian keeper did brilliantly to save his header at the end of the first half and he was a fraction of a second too late to a great cross with 26 minutes to go.

    How Morleo's cross fell to Ranocchia and not the Bologna forward later on is a mystery, and on another night, Gilardino might have got a brace to match the one he scored the previous weekend against Chievo Verona in the league. 

Rocchi Looks Exactly Like a 35-Year-Old, Fifth-Choice Striker for a Midsize Club

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    Tommaso Rocchi played less than 160 minutes under Vladimir Petković before making a surprise move from Lazio to Inter.

    At 35, he has found himself fifth in the pecking order behind Miroslav Klose, Sergio Floccari, Libor Kozak, 18-year-old academy product Antonio Rozzi and even Mauro Zarate, a player who's now "at war" with his own club.

    He lasted 60 minutes against Bologna but contributed next to nothing, looking out of his depth and several yards off the pace. 

    No wonder Cassano was miffed at being swapped for the Venetian against Pescara

Inter Are Still a Work in Progress

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    Stramaccioni is certainly hard at work rebuilding Inter, but they're far from the finished product just yet.

    After dominating the game and being two up, they fell apart late on and let Bologna back into the game with two avoidable goals.

    Bologna's forwards deserved the scores for their tireless efforts—Alessandro Diamanti in particular was excellent, with a goal and an assist—but Inter's defence should have been more alert. 

    At the back, only Samir Handanović was without blame, having made several excellent saves to keep his side in it. 

    Alvaro Pereira is very good going forward, and Handanović has been impressive between the posts, but the Nerazzurri need to improve defensively if they want to avoid being punished by Italy's better forwards. 

The Coppa Italia Is NOT Boring or Pointless

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    People might tell you that the Coppa Italia doesn't matter, but they're lying.

    For all the talk you hear about the magic of the FA Cup in England, few get excited about its Italian equivalent outside of the peninsula, and that's a shame.

    This season we've already seen Bologna beat last year's winners Napoli 2-1 away from home, Juventus beat Milan with a goal in extra time, Lazio hammer Catania 3-0; and Roma soundly beat Atalanta by the same scoreline. These are just some of the great games the competition has thus far produced.

    And in case you forgot, we're talking about a game in which Inter beat Bologna with a header in the final seconds, after 120 minutes of thrilling football. 

    Games between Fiorentina and Roma or the upcoming semifinal matchup of Lazio and Juventus are never boring, especially when in that particular match it will likely involve Nos. 1 and 2 in the league.

    Any competition with clubs like Inter, Juventus, Lazio, Roma or Fiorentina in the semifinals is worth watching, and the final matches are all must-see events for any calcio fan.