Reuters Soccer Blog
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Reaching a European Cup final for the first time since 1972 is success in itself for Inter Milan fans, as witnessed by the delirious scenes at Milan Malpensa airport as the team arrived back from eliminating holders Barcelona.
Jose Mourinho’s side are on for a treble, unprecendented in Italian soccer, but they have not yet tied up Serie A (two points ahead with three games left), the Italian Cup (final against Roma May 5) or the Champions League (final against Bayern Munich May 22 in Madrid).
Could their excitement at this stage come back to haunt them? Mourinho, normally very shrewd despite his outspokenness, said outdoing Barca with 10 men for over an hour was better than winning the Champions League with Porto in 2004.
Dangerous talk with a very good Bayern side, and a rampant Arjen Robben, waiting in the wings at the Bernabeu.
It’s considered irresponsible for a coach to call for fans to intimidate visiting teams and referees, just as it courts controversy to accuse rivals of diving a lot.
The restrictions on coaches are not so tightly applied to players so it was Gerard Pique and Thiago Motta who waded in to do the dirty work, in the buildup to Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final return between Barcelona and Inter Milan.
Inter Milan’s masterclass performance against Barcelona will have impressed many, including Pep Guardiola, and produced just the first-leg outcome the tie needed to set up a gripping return leg at the Nou Camp next Wednesday.
Graceful after his first two-goal defeat since he took over at Barcelona, Guardiola refused to blame the fact his team had endured a 14-hour coach ride to Milan after volcanic ash from Iceland grounded flights across Europe.
But, having said he had made good use of the trip by watching Inter videos, Guardiola might wonder whether some of his players had taken a nap when they should have been paying attention.
There will be plenty of time to pick apart Chelsea’s latest Champions League failure, but for now the question on many a fan’s lips on the way out of Stamford Bridge must have been simply, “How did we ever let Jose Mourinho go?”
Mourinho is still Captain of the Bridge, it seems.
The coach’s decision to play such an attacking line-up seemed to surprise Chelsea and Carlo Ancelotti never really found a way to deal with such an audacious strategy.
Sunday’s Milan derby had just about everything.
Red cards, controversies, a missed penalty, great play, Jose Mourinho his usual outlandish self and a another stunning Inter Milan performance (plus unused Inter substitute Marco Materazzi bizarrely walking around at full-time wearing a face mask of Silvio Berlusconi.)
For the leaders to beat their main title rivals 2-0 with nine men is just another example of the remarkable grit of Mourinho’s side.
Inter Milan’s colourful coach Jose Mourinho has hit the headlines again for a foul mouthed rant at an Italian journalist, the latest in a number of spats with the soccer-obsessed media here.
The Portuguese has admitted using offensive language, said he made a mistake, but has not publically apologised. He also said there was no physical contact during the incident outside the team bus following Inter’s 1-1 draw at Atalanta on Sunday.
There’s a big difference for reporters like me between covering AC Milan and Inter Milan at their shared San Siro stadium.
For Milan games in the Champions League, the press get a lovely buffet spread before kickoff. Hot pasta, salad, maybe even some nice chicken and good Chianti.
The coaches of the three biggest Serie A clubs recently indulged in what has always been one of the favourite pastimes of the older and wiser — picking fault with today’s youngsters.
Inter Milan boss Jose Mourinho kicked things off when he criticised 19-year-old forward Mario Balotelli’s approach in training and suggested that footballers of his age were more interested in Ferraris and Bentleys than getting on with the job.
It is a bit early to be making judgements on the new Inter Milan (especially after a lacklustre first league game) but the 4-0 thrashing of AC Milan at the weekend suggests the Samuel Eto’o-Zlatan Ibrahimovic swap could completely change their way of playing.
Ibrahimovic, who scored on his Barcelona debut in Monday’s 3-0 win over Sporting Gijon, was everything to Inter. He was the target man, the talisman, the go-to man when a flash of inspiration or a goal was needed.