For quite a few years now Inter has held Serie A in a terror regime. Some might call it well deserved after the midtable mediocrity that was the 1990′s and I’m not here to argue that it is not. I am here to cast some light on the defensive line which is once again trying to secure their club the treble. There are some newcomers and some old-timers and I’ll take them one by one – let’s go.
I’ll start with a newcomer and most likely the most talented of them. There is no doubt that Ranocchia was just the kind of purchase that Inter needed to pave the way for a future equally as bright as their recent past. He reminds me somewhat of a young Martin Laursen of Hellas Verona, Milan, and Aston Villa fame. Tall, fast, and very good in the air, but also with obvious lack of skills when it comes to offensive plays and fast circulation of the ball. He seems insecure at times and no one can blame him for that. When he learn his trade on the absolute top level more in depth, and work a bit in the gym, he’ll be a cornerstone in the middle (!) of the Inter defense for years to come.
Apart from the pace he’s Ranocchia opposite with his small and gritty figure. While the young Italian is on the rise however Cordoba is not. We saw in the Derby d’Italia how his positioning or lack thereof gave Juve two or three huge chances and a goal. That is not what you expect from an experienced player with years and years under his Serie A belt. Cordoba is an Inter stalwart and we all respect him for that, but this summer it’s time for Inter to let him go and invest anew.
The former Roma defender has played an important part in Inter’s recent success. He is quite injury prone however and I wonder how the hat is influencing his play. Chivu is only 30 years old and might have a couple of good years left in him, or ten if he was Paolo Maldini, but there are some issues he will need to address. It’s for instance obvious that Inter is an unbalanced team when he is on the left back and Maicon on the right, since the Romanian’s attacking skills are lacking severely compared to the Brazilian’s. In the modern game you need backs that can and will storm the flanks and deliver good crosses at least a couple of times during a game – Chivu struggles to do that. If he stays at Inter I see him more as an alternative in the central defence than a first choice left back.
Lucio is despite his age strong, fast, and eager. While I’m not a fan of his 100% Jesus antics, I can’t help admire him on the pitch. He’s very minded for attack and he has this never say die attitude which is so important for pushing tight games in your direction. I see at least a couple of good seasons in his Inter future, if he wants to stay in Italy. I also see him as the perfect partner and teacher for Ranocchia.
It is generally accepted that Maicon is one of the best full backs in the world. The long season last year that saw Inter win three tournaments paired with a world cup has seen him tire a bit and injury (and Rafa Benitez) has also set him back. For opponents that don’t keep the width on the field he’s extremely dangerous in attack and he’s always getting back home fast and willingly. He has winning mentality and unless he wants to try out teams like Real Madrid or Man. U. I see him as a cornerstone (actually in the corner) of the Inter defence for at least two or three seasons to come.
I’m an ambivalent fan of Matrix. I love his crazy side, albeit not his insane leg breaking tackles, which make him much more interesting that most other players and I also respect his acceptance of a role as substitute be it in the Nazionale or the Internazionale. He was a very unlikely hero of the 2006 world cup and I loved every second of it. The problem however is that right now he’s nowhere nearly good enough for the Inter team. Matrix has to go and Inter have to invest in youth or give a player like Felice Natalino more chances.
The Argentinian has done well at Inter despite having huge troubles with injuries. Nicknamed “The Wall” he was pivotal part of Inter’s treble last season. He is however about to turn 33 and while that kind of age is not always a problem for defenders Inter will have to look for younger replacements sooner rather than later. I see Samuel taking one more season in Milano acting as a part of a rotating central defence with Lucio and Ranocchia.
I was a bit confused when people all over were hailing the loan of the Japanese as a transfer master piece. It might be down to my ignorance but sixteen games for a very mediocre Cesena outfit didn’t rock my world. I don’t know him that well and I’ve only seen him play for Inter once. He is however fast and attack minded and thus offering a good alternative to Chivu on the left back. I doubt that he will be able to offer the same quality as Maicon on the other flank – but I’ve been proven wrong before (alas all too often…).
All in all it must be said that Inter has an age issue in defence. Andrea Ranocchia is the future but almost every other spot in the defence will have to be chanced over the next seasons. They are in for task on Inter’s board.
Thank you for reading. Any comments?