Inter Milan 2-2 Bologna: 6 Things We Learned
Having thrown away a two-goal lead in the midweek round, Inter hosted Bologna on Saturday night knowing three vital Serie A points were on offer. With sixth-placed Parma only two points behind, the Nerazzurri could not afford another slip up if they were to maintain their push for a return to European competition next season.
For their part, the visitors began the match just a single point above the relegation zone, fully aware that the sides below them could pull them closer to the fight to retain top-flight status. Having won the corresponding fixture 1-0 last term, Davide Ballardini’s men held the belief they could overcome the Milanese giants once more.
Inter would again fail to record a victory, becoming pegged back to 2-2 for the second time in a week and continuing a run of four matches without a win. Over the following pages are six things this game taught us about the two sides.
Mauro Icardi Is the Future of Inter
It took Mauro Icardi just six minutes to fire the home side into the lead, as the 21-year-old steered a quality finish past goalkeeper Gianluca Cerci and into the back of the net. It marked his fifth goal of the season, and it would not be his last involvement in the match.
Shortly after the hour mark, he restored Inter’s lead, curling home from outside the area and underlining his importance to Walter Mazzarri’s team. The former Sampdoria striker is proving he is ready to step into the void left by Diego Milito’s expected departure this summer and lead the Nerazzurri in the future.
Perhaps Inter and Penalties Just Don’t Mix!
Inter had not been awarded a penalty in the league this season, with their last spot-kick coming 32 matches ago in a run which Massimo Moratti had discussed only last week. Speaking to the FcInterNews website, the club’s Honorary President had said (via FootballItalia);
The situation has become comical and now we can laugh while talking about it. This happens every Sunday now, I believe the referees are afraid to award the first penalty in a long time.
This holds them back, because it has to be absolutely obvious otherwise they have problems awarding it.
Yet here, referee Paolo Silvio Mazzoleni had no hesitation in awarding a 79th minute penalty for a foul on Rodrigo Palacio, handing the Nerazzurri the perfect opportunity to win the match. Diego Milito would fail to convert it, however, rendering the end of the statistic utterly meaningless.
Inter’s Stellar Fullback Play Continues
As always, the play of the wing-backs in Walter Mazzarri’s formation are hugely important, and Inter have a quality group to call upon. Jonathan missed the match with injury, meaning Danilo D’Ambrosio would be providing balance for Yuto Nagatomo on the opposite flank.
The Japanese international recorded an assist on the first goal, and the duo would create a plethora of chances. Rodrigo Palacio almost turned in a cross from D’Ambrosio shortly after half-time, and there is little doubt the large majority of Inter’s attacking impetus comes from wide areas.
Hernanes Quickly Becoming Vital
Hernanes may have only joined Inter as the transfer window closed on the last day of January, but the Brazilian playmaker has quickly become a crucial figure at the club. Notching another assist against Bologna, the 28-year-old continued his excellent form since moving from Lazio.
Mateo Kovacic Continues to Sit and Wait
Mateo Kovacic has proven this season that he deserves to be starting matches for Inter, offering much more than many of the midfielders selected ahead of him. Once again he was only a substitute against Bologna, with his last start coming over two months ago in the loss to Juventus.
The player’s agent, Nikky Vuksan, was asked for comment last week, telling the CalcioMercato website (via FootballItalia);
The Coach decides who plays when, he decides who is in better shape and who needs to work a bit harder.
There are no problems with him, and none with the club. Obviously Mateo is not happy about playing so little, but what player is?
With just eight starts to his name in 2013-14, it would be understandable if the Croatian has become frustrated with life in Milan.
Bologna Are in Very Real Danger of Relegation
Despite snatching a vital point, the Rossoblu remain just two points outside the relegation zone and will be hoping Juventus beat Livorno on Monday to keep them out of the bottom three. With difficult fixtures against Parma and Fiorentina as well as their own meeting with the champions to come over the next few weeks, Bologna could very well be headed to Serie B.