While this was a mere friendly and many of the starters from both teams were not on hand, the manner with which Inter overcame Manchester City serves as a warning for those aiming to dethrone the Serie A champions and Champions League winners.
The Nerazzurri were missing the likes of Diego Milito, Lucio and Wesley Sneijder but still managed to put a solid display with some silk passing and neat moves. In midfield, Esteban Cambiasso was as productive as ever with his passing and disrupting of opponents while captain Javier Zanetti was as usual reliable at the back and a useful player going forward.
Inter dominated the match and were in control of possession even before the sending off of Patrick Vieira who was in all fairness unlucky to see red. The former Juventus and Inter midfielder deserved a yellow card in the worst case scenario. The 3-0 final score can be considering a flattering one for Manchester City since the game could have easily finished with a bigger win for the Nerazzurri.
Inter will be a force to contend with in the Champions League and appear to be confident about their chances of repeating as European champions. As for Serie A, it will be hard to see any club, including Roma, Milan and Juventus, challenge the Nerazzurri for the title. Roma do not have a big squad and there is a major drop off in level between the starting XI and the bench players while Milan rely on too many of the senior players who are edging closer to retirement such as Clarence Seedorf, Andrea Pirlo, Alessandro Nesta and Massimo Ambrosini. The Rossoneri will only have one youngster featuring regularly in their starting lineup and that is Brazilian striker Alexandre Pato. As for Juventus, they are still in the process of recovering from a dismal season and it will be hard to see them challenge for the title unless all pieces of the puzzle fell in the right place for the Bianconeri.
Inter’s victory against the Citizens showed that the Nerazzurri have a big squad and a deep bench which can be relied upon when there are injuries and suspensions. In fact, the Nerazzurri will probably have to trim their squad in order to save on some of the big salaries paid to fringe players and reserve players. Having a big squad has another disadvantage which is growing discontent amongst those not getting enough playing time. Such players might begin to cause undesired distractions and might hurt harmony within the squad.
Two factors will shape the Nerazzurri starting XI as well as the quality on the bench and these are related to the future of Maicon and Mario Balotelli. If both players remain with the club then Inter’s bench will be even stronger, but if they leave then the bench will be a weakened a bit since Balotelli will be gone while a full-back will have to start in Maicon’s place on the right flank. Even if the duo will depart, Inter will remain top contenders to sweep the trophies in their path and repeat as treble winners. Only Barcelona and Real Madrid with their talented roster can dethrone Inter as European champions as the elite English Premier League sides are perhaps a step below the Italian giants and the two Spanish clubs.
Inter’s starting XI will likely be (provided Maicon & Balotelli stay): Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, W. Samuel, Chivu, Cambiasso, J. Zanetti, Sneijder, Eto’o, D. Milito and Pandev.
It will be interesting to see if Davide Santon and Mario Balotelli can establish themselves as regulars under new coach Rafael Benitez. The upcoming season certainly looks promising for the Nerazzurri and their supporters. Feel free to comment below or simply contact me on Twitter @RamiSoufi for further discussion. I am including below two pieces written following the end of last season which pertain to Inter: