Torino vs. Inter Milan: 6 Things We Learned
Torino missed out on a golden opportunity to end their 19-year wait for a win over Inter in Turin this weekend, as the Nerazzurri went down to 10 men shortly after kick-off.
Alessio Cerci had his penalty saved before the visitors regrouped and rallied into the lead—only to concede at the death to a fortunate free-kick.
It was an eventful game that both sides will feel they could have won. The final score of 3-3 is a result that leaves Inter fifth in the table—nine points off leaders Roma and a point behind fourth-placed Hellas Verona, who they'll meet next weekend.
So what did we learn from this game?
Operating with a Back Three Is a Major Problem for Inter
Walter Mazzarri's preference for the back three and strong tactical ideas means that, for whatever club he's managing at the time, his sides always have a certain personality that's easily recognisable.
At Napoli, the coach's favoured way to play the game resulted in one of the most attractive sides in European football.
The Partenopei were difficult to break down, tactically astute, hard-working in attack and attentive in defence. It was a masterclass in using a back three with wingbacks—there were options going forward and cover when needed at the back. Inter are still some way off that standard.
Jonathan struggled with Alessio Cerci right from the off, and the Granata man could have had the opener after just four minutes were it not from the post. Defensive errors also lead to Samir Handanovic being in the position that ended in a penalty and a red card.
When Gian Piero Gasperini tried to install a three-man back line at the San Siro in 2011, it ended in a dressing room mutiny and a string of poor results that cost him his job. It's unlikely that Mazzarri will meet the same fate so soon in his tenure, having been so impressive in Naples, but if he doesn't sort out his defence soon, his astonishing record of never having been fired will come to an end before too long.
Juan Pablo Carrizo Is Not Bad Back-Up
The 29-year-old has never really made a firm impression at any club, but he's off to a fine start at Inter. Saving a penalty from Alessio Cerci is never an easy task, but doing it in your first competitive game for the club after just coming on to replace an expelled first-choice keeper is the definition of difficult for any goalie.
Carrizo handled that pressure well and will now have some game time to impress his boss while the Slovenian serves his ban. He should have done a lot better for Nicola Bellomo's late equaliser, but if there's finger-pointing to be done at Inter, the Argentine will be some way down the list of targets.
Andrea Ranocchia Should Not Be Starting
It's incredible that a player as flat-footed as Andrea Ranocchia can be a regular starter at a top club and a feature of the Italian national side.
The Umbrian defender is still young, but at 25 should now be living up to the potential that first gained him attention during his spells at Genoa and Bari. Instead, he is being repeatedly exposed as slow to react, short on pace and lacking in creativity.
It took Cerci less than five minutes to embarrass Ranocchia, and while the Granata forward would be a handful for most defenders in this form, Inter fans should reasonably expect that a club of that stature should be able to field a defender competent enough to deal with anyone in a Torino shirt.
The Nerazzurri are a side with Champions League aspirations. They can't afford to field a defender with mid-table abilities.
If Inter Lose Rodrigo Palacio, They Could Be in Real Trouble
Before the game, Mazzarri told reporters: "As things stand, unless something happens, the only one certain to start is Rodrigo Palacio."
Nothing happened against Torino to change that outlook. The Argentine forward was, as ever, a positive in a sea of negatives for the Nerazzurri, managing to score twice despite the fact that Inter were reduced to 10 men shortly after kick-off.
Andrea Stramaccioni had mixed results on the Inter bench, but the injury crisis that blighted last season was largely to blame for the young manager's departure. The squad just couldn't cope with losing the likes of Palacio and Diego Milito.
Milito should be back in action before long, but because his current injury followed not long after a lengthy lay-up, it remains to be seen how quickly he can make an impression. If something happens to Palacio, Mazzarri could be in real trouble.
Mateo Kovacic Deserved Better
No one will be more frustrated after the draw with Torino than Mateo Kovacic. The young midfielder was looking forward to playing a starring role behind the strikers in Turin, but was subbed off after just six minutes when Handanovic saw red.
It was an understandable call from the manager, but given the player's potential to be a game changer, it was still a lamentable one. Saphir Taider and Fredy Guarin did well getting forward from midfield, but there will be more than a few people wondering what the Croatian might have been capable of had he stayed on the pitch.
A Draw Leaves Neither Side Happy
Having gone down to 10 men so early, Inter might be considered lucky to escape Turin with a draw. But they also looked like winning the game thanks to Palacio's efforts and will be disappointed to concede so late on to Nicola Bellomo's free-kick.
Likewise, Torino will be kicking themselves for not capitalising on their numerical advantage. Cerci ran riot for much of the night, but having seen his penalty saved, just couldn't find the back of the net in a game that on another night might have seen him bag a hat-trick.
The Granata have now drawn with both Milan clubs and lost by just a single goal to Juventus in the city's David and Goliath matchup. So they know that they're competitive. But for all the positives, they're still 10th in the table on a night where they could have jumped to seventh.