If Inter are to retain their European Cup, they have left themselves a mountain to climb.
A 1-0 home defeat was Leonardo’s worst nightmare come true.
Bayern Munich had the better possession of the football. For large periods of the game, Bayern played their football in Inter’s half. The right flank for Bayern proved to be extremely influential, as Chivu was left to face Robben.
Bayern could have counted themselves unlucky not having gone in front before the half time break. The second half began with Bayern completely dominating the game at least for the first ten minutes.
Wasteful finishing from Muller and Gomez up front meant that the sides were level and would remain so right until the death of the game.
Inter’s best chance fell to Esteban Cambiasso, as Samuel Eto’o managed to swivel and create a chance for himself inside the Bayern penalty area.
With just the keeper to beat, Cambiasso blasted his effort high and wide.
Andrea Ranocchia suffered a knock through the middle of the second half and Kharja came on in his place with Chivu slotting in the center of defense and Zanetti at left back.
Kharja had a quick impact as he drilled a ball across the face of goal only for the Bayern keeper to palm it away smartly.
Needless to say, this attack also started with good work from Eto’o.
If Inter had 11 players showing the drive and determination that the Cameroonian did, the result might well have been different.
But for a brief five minute period in the last ten minutes, when Inter had a series of corners, there was never any concerted pressure from the home side. It does not come as a surprise then that the away team had the better possession and more chances on goal.
A 0-0 result would not have been the worst result, given Inter’s performance and the threat that Eto’o and Co. possess. In a week when Milan and Roma lost their home games, Inter seemed to be preventing a hat-trick.
Unfortunately for them, calamity struck in the 90th minute: A howler from Julio Cesar, who many regard as being No. 1 in the world, gave Mario Gomez the simplest goal he will ever score.
The timing of the strike meant Inter had no chance of getting an equalizer and have it all to do in the away leg.
All in all, the performance of the team was subpar, bar Samuel Eto’o; he is easily Inter’s Man of the Match.
Inter’s midfield seemed to be less than effective at dominating the middle of the park. Cambiasso was not his usually commanding self and Stankovic had one pass too many that went astray.
The defense seemed to cope a little better with the return of Lucio. Ranocchia made a couple of mistakes but was fortunate enough to not concede a goal as a consequence.
Leonardo has a lot to ponder and a return to fitness for Diego Milito cannot come soon enough, as Inter will have to go all out in Germany.
The player who shined the most is no surprise—Arjen Robben. He was a constant threat down Bayern’s right flank. Coincidentally, it was his shot that Julio Cesar spilled at Gomez’ feet.
It has been a tough week for Italian football, with all three representatives losing home ties. One waits to see if they can shrug of the disappointments and show some grit and heart that seemed to be lacking.
As for Inter, overcoming a 1-0 deficit away at Allianz will be tough. The only thing going for them is the brittleness of Bayern’s defense.