International Champions Cup Preview: Inter Milan

Inter Milan, a Serie A powerhouse that has fallen on hard times recently, is a team with everything to prove and will be coming to the United States later this month to compete in the 2013 International Champions Cup.

Here’s a preview:


August 1, 2013: Chelsea vs Inter, Indianapolis (Lucas Oil Stadium) 8:00pm ET

August 4, 2013: Loser of Chelsea vs Inter will play loser of AC Milan vs Valencia or winner of Chelsea vs Inter will play winner of AC Milan vs Valencia , New York (MetLife Stadium) 4:00pm ET or 6:30pm ET

August 6, 2013: Opponent to be determined, Miami (Sun Life Stadium), 6:30pm ET or 9pm ET

August 7, 2013: Opponent to be determined, Miami (Sun Life Stadium), 6:30pm ET or 9pm ET

What to Expect

Inter Milan may not be at their mightiest at the moment, but with new manager Walter Mazzarri at the helm, Inter hope to correct last season’s 9th place finish. Their last campaign saw a myriad of formations employed, with the squad undergoing no fewer than 10 changes to its tactical plan in its search for a winning formula. Their attack suffered from losses due to injury, but nevertheless the team showed a flair for quick counters down the wings, and the team’s passing accuracy ranked 4th in Serie A. Their defense, though stacked with big names, faltered as well. Expect the squad to understand that their frailty needs correcting, and despite a new manager and new signings, look for them to do absolutely everything possible to embarrass cross-town rivals AC Milan, who have the potential to meet Inter in New York for an off-shore semi final derby.

Who to Watch For

Inter Milan have one of the best young center backs in Europe in Andrea Ranocchia. The 25 year old is as comfortable on the ball as he is in the air, and even netted 2 goals while assisting another last season – a solid defender in every sense of the word and a better passer than most Italians in that position. Famous names like Zanetti, Cassano, Cambiasso and Guarin also figure, but keep an eye out for 19 year old central midfielder Mateo Kovacic. The Croatian teen, who joined just this January, wears the No.10 shirt for Inter, and performed admirably in his 11 appearances for the club last year. Successfully completing over 90% of his passes and putting in at least one MotM performance, he gives Inter fans much to be excited about. Watch for Inter to rely on through balls from the starlet to another promising youngster, new striker Mauro Icardi.

What’s Changed

Out: Antonio Cassano, Dejan Stankovic
In: Walter Mazzarri, Hugo Campagnaro, Marco Andreolli, Mauro Icardi, Ishak Belfodil

Inter’s biggest summer signing has undoubtedly been former Napoli manager Walter Mazzarri. He managed to take Napoli to 2nd in Serie A last season, thanks in large part to Edinson Cavani, but due in no small part to his tactical know-how. Outgoing manager Stramaccioni was faced with many problems out of his control, but as a first year manager he was incapable of dealing. Mazzarri’s Napoli won much renown for their very quick counter-attacking style in a 3-4-3 formation. Stramaccioni himself had success with the formation at Inter; don’t be surprised to see it at this year’s International Champions Cup

As for their on-field signings, Mauro Icardi stands out as an exciting one. At 20 years old the Argentine U20 and former Barca U17 managed to feature in 31 games for Sampdoria last season – a feat that cannot be said for many other young, attacking players. His 6ft frame and dribbling ability make him formidable in the box, though his passing ability ought to improve.

Ishak Belfodil, an Algerian born striker bought from Parma, is similar in many ways to Icardi: young, tall, and a total work horse (34 games played) scoring 8 and assisting 5. The two are an exciting future strike corps for a club in need of rebuilding.

Inter’s defense needed mending, and in center backs Hugo Campagnaro and Marco Andreolli, they get added strength at the back. Campagnaro comes with the added bonus of having played under Mazzarri at Napoli for the last three seasons.

Be sure to follow Ernesto on Twitter @MalaveFC

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