How can you follow up a season which finished with a treble? After 5 years of dominance in Italy, Inter Milan finally dominated in Europe, and now Rafa Benitez is left with a tough job on his hands. Benitez wants to change a lot of things with Inter, starting with the playing syle. The Spanish coach would like the team to play with more possession and less counter-attacking, probably what could be considered a Spanish style. But it won’t be easy, not at all, although Benitez has top class players to work with, he also has to find the right balance. And while Mourinho won the Serie A his first try, maybe Benitez could end the run with this new “Rafa-revolution”.
After getting the cash from winning the treble, you’d think that Massimo Moratti would strengthen the squad with plenty of quality players, but that’s not the case. Instead, Moratti seems to be building a team for the future, the Inter Milan president has teamed up with Benitez to not only win this season, but also win in the future. Biabiany from Parma is a great player who was already part of Inter’s scheme, and now the speedy French forward will be a great replacement for Balotelli who left for Manchester City. Along with him, Faraoni joined from Lazio, a 19 year-old defender, and Obinna returned from Malaga, where he was on loan. To replace retired Toldo, Inter bought Castellazzi from Sampdoria, and they made sure to bring Coutinho to Italy this year. The 18 year-old Brazilian seems to be one of the best prospects in the Serie A, and he’s the future of the Brazilian national team.
While Inter aren’t missing much, they have lost Mario Balotelli, an important forward who could be replaced by a new player, while the idea was to buy Mesut Ozil from Werder Bremen, the German wonder-boy was bought by Real Madrid/Jose Mourinho. Now Inter is looking at Genoa’s Sculli, or there’s a remote possibility that Inter would try and buy Forlan from Atletico Madrid, but even if a new forward isn’t bought, Inter can survive with Obinna, Coutinho, and Biabiany. Another useful player could be a midfielder, especially since Zanetti is at the end of his career, Cambiasso turned 30 today, and Thiago Motta does pick up yellow cards. A player like Genoa’s Franco Zuculini, or like a young Mascherano or Flamini, but there’s no urgency in this department. Another possible area to reinforce is the fullback position, if Maicon leaves (which isn’t very possible, but you never know with Real Mourinho), then a right fullback would be needed.
Rafael Benitez has stated that he wants to continue with Mourinho’s 4-2-3-1, utilizing the wingers to stretch the defense and penetrate using Sneijder’s creativity. While there would be no change to the starting 11 from last year with Julio Cesar in goal, Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Chivu in defense, Cambiasso and Zanetti playing as defensive midfielders with Eto’o on the right, Pandev on the left, and Sneijder behind Diego Milito up front, Benitez could introduce some young players in the squad. It’s most likely that Inter could start playing more Italians this upcoming season with Benitez at the helm, and we could see Santon re-introduced into the starting 11 after his past tormented season. It will be interesting to see if Benitez will rotate players, or stick with a starting 11, and I also want to see how he’ll be able to satisfy Eto’o who wants to score at least 20 goals this season.
The Inter of the future
After seeing some youngster’s performances in the Tim Cup (which Inter won over Juventus and AC Milan), Benitez could introduce four youngsters, of which three are Italian. The most possible would be Nwankwo, a Nigerian defensive midfielder who looks like a young Cambiasso in the making, physically strong, a cool head, and a tactical know-how. Another possible player to be introduced into the team is Felice Natalino, who played out one of the best 45 minutes that I’d ever seen a fullback play. The Italian replaced Maicon and made the right wing his own, nothing got past him and he was unstoppable as he ran up the field to create chances and throw in crosses. Along with Natalino Benitez put Benedetti in the center of defense, while he wasn’t severely tested by AC Milan’s attack, he had no trouble and was put in a solid performance. And the final name which you might’ve already heard is Cristiano Biraghi, the left full-back who scored the wonder-volley against Manchester City and put in another good performance in the Tim Cup.
While Benitez has a revolution in mind, which includes possession, goals, youngsters, and attacking play, in the end it could all turn out to be a failure. The reason I’m slightly negative is that a manager which follows Mourinho will always be cursed, he will never have the same flair, or cool that Mourinho had, he’ll never leave the same interviews and charm us with his wild antics. So just this puts Benitez under pressure, then thinking that he has to at least win the treble to surpass Mourinho could distract him, and maybe this distraction could cause Inter’s run to end.
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