There's been much change at Inter in recent weeks. Erick Thohir is now officially the majority shareholder in the club, having bought 70% from Massimo Moratti. And their flawless start to the season—and to life under Walter Mazzarri—was brought to a humbling halt by an all-conquering Roma side just before the international break.
Prior to losing 0-3 to Roma at the San Siro, Mazzarri's side had been undefeated. And while the draw to Cagliari was somewhat disappointing, the former Napoli boss was rightly being celebrated for having turned things around for the Nerazzurri so quickly.
Against Torino, he needs to get them back on track and prove that their successful start to the campaign was that of a credible contender for one of the Champions League spots rather than just a string of fortunate results.
For the most part, it's a case of not fixing what ain't broken. It's dangerous to read too much into the defeat to Rudi Garcia's Giallorossi, because at the moment, it looks like the capital side could beat anyone. A convincing victory at home to Napoli now has them at eight straight wins, so on the face of it, there's no shame in losing to them, even if the Inter players will know that they were capable of better on the night.
Mazzarri won't want to mess with his formula too much, but the Nerazzurri boss has some concerns over fitness following a testing international break for many of his key players. Speaking at a press conference (here in English via football-italia.net) after training, he told the gathered media:
I don’t know what condition the players are in. They had light training and seemed to be ok, so with the little time I have, I’ll try to evaluate their condition and which team can give me the most guarantees.
[The Roma game] was the first defeat of my tenure, but we also saw a performance that was not so negative. We paid the price for errors and did some positive things too. This team has to grow overall but is doing well, and that is the most important thing for me.
Torino will be another difficult match in an atmosphere with passionate fans. They are very organised and, in my view, deserved more than the points they currently have. It’s another test, but I am still confident we can put in a good performance.
They have individual talents like Alessio Cerci, who can do something at any moment, but we must be wary of the whole side, as they play good football.
If you want to be positive and take the initiative, then you are going to leave yourself open to the occasional counter-attack. Clearly, you have to be careful and maintain balance.
I’d like us to be more clinical with the final pass, as in the last few games we dropped points because we didn’t score enough goals when in control.
One option in the hunt for more goals would be to use the motivated and in-form Mateo Kovacic behind the forwards. The Croatian has had a bright start to his Inter career, but he has yet to find his definitive place on the pitch—or find the back of the net. Despite the lack of goals, he looks like the most sensible option to replace the injured Ricky Alvarez.
Kovacic would likely be happy to feature closer to goal, telling Mediaset (here in English, from goal.com) that he's eager to score his first in the Inter shirt.
We are here to play and to win. We want to give Thohir his first victory. My problem is that I can’t score goals at the moment. I must admit I feel the fact I haven’t scored my first goal for Inter yet.
I like to play in any of the midfield roles and am at the disposal of the coach. With Andrea Stramaccioni, I was in a deeper role, whereas Walter Mazzarri wants me in a more advanced position to provide assists and try to score
When asked about Kovacic—who has only started twice this season but is surely set for a more important role—playing farther forward, Mazzarri said:
It is one of the options, yes. Ricky was one of those in the best form and at this moment, so it’s a shame he picked up this injury.
I tried Fredy Guarin behind the strikers in America, but it didn’t really suit his characteristics. I won’t rule anything out, but in this case, I think Guarin is progressing well in his current position and trying to make those movements automatic, so it would be a mistake to put other ideas in his head.
I have to evaluate the condition of everyone, so I do have doubts. As things stand, unless something happens, the only one certain to start is Rodrigo Palacio.
Palacio will be important against Torino, but so too will Saphir Taider, who had a good game against Roma, despite the disappointing result.
The real problems were at the back, where Francesco Totti's movement and intelligence caused the defence all sorts of problems, and Mazzarri will be desperate not to see a repeat of that with the likes of Cerci.
Toro don't have the class of Serie A's biggest sides, but they are well-organised and will punish Inter if allowed. And if their star winger is allowed space and time on the ball, he could add to the six goals he's scored already this term.
Full-back Danilo D'Ambrosio is also on fine form, so it will be key for Inter to shut down the wings. Assuming he starts, Alvaro Pereira in particular will have to be much better in this regard after a shocking performance in the previous round.
Probable Inter line-up: Samir Handanovic; Juan Jesus, Andrea Ranocchia, Rolando; Alvaro Pereira, Yuto Nagatomo; Fredy Guarin, Esteban Cambiasso, Saphir Taider, Mateo Kovacic; Rodrigo Palacio.
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