Europa League Playoff 1st leg: FC Vaslui 0 - 2 Inter
In the Europa league play off first leg the Romanian side Fc Vaslui played host to Inter at their temporary home of Stadionul Ceahlaul as their home ground, Municipal only houses just over 9000 fans which isn't big enough to play European games.
The game marked a very important landmark for Inter as the legendary captain Javier Zanetti marked his 800th appearance with the Nerazzurri. Andrea Stramaccioni started the match with a 4-3-3 formation consisting of Luca Castellazzi in goal in place of the injured Handanovic,who is recovering from knee surgery. In front of goal in the centreback position was Silvestre and Ranocchia with Javier Zanetti and Maicon holding the wide defensive positions.
A strong midfield three of Guarin, Cambiasso and Mudingayi created the engine of the formation, with Cambiasso covering the defence and Guarin on the right and Mudingayi on the left taking the ball forward to connect with the attack three of the formation.
The attack saw Sneijder in the centre of the three, dropping back in to his natural trequartista role when needed with Palacio and Milito either side giving him multiple options inside of the box.
The game started with Inter looking to stamp their authority on the match and playing a comfortable forward moving game. Both Guarin and Mudingayi bringing the ball forward before feeding it to Sneijder who then pulled the strings for all of Inter's early chances on goal.
In the 18th minute Stramaccioni was forced to make an early change when Mudingayi went to the ground clutching his hamstring and so the first tactical change of the game was introduced as Nagatomo came on and took up the left back position with Guarin moving to the left of the midfield and the veteran Zanetti taking up position on the right.
Five minutes later, Inter got the break through they were looking for! Following a corner from Sneijder Inter's centreback Ranocchia was beaten to a high ball by a Vaslui defender who only managed to clear as far as Cambiasso, who was charging in on the edge of the area giving the Argentinean the opportunity of power blasting the ball past the keeper in to the back of the net.
In the 35th minute Guarin had a chance on goal but this time the Vaslui keeper, Coman, was a match for it pushing the ball past the post for another Inter corner. Just over five minutes later Vaslui had their first real chance on goal when Ousmane N'Doye blasted a long range shot towards the far top corner of the net, but Castellazzi pulled off a fantastic diving save to deny him. Just before the half time whistle I thought Inter were two goals up as Palacio took a shot past Coman only for it to hit the far post and the danger was cleared.
The second half started just like the first with Inter hungry to put the result beyond doubt and Guarin had a great shot saved within the first minute of the restart. On the 69th minute Vaslui were on the attack again, and as the ball fell to Ranocchia to clear he miss hit it sending it high and straight to the opposition attacker, though luckily for the Nerazzurri he only managed to scoop it well over the crossbar.
The 71st minute saw Stramaccioni make his second change as the talented youngster Coutinho came on in place of Milito, who to be honest didn't seem to be at his best tonight. The substitution signalled another tactical change for Inter as they switched to a 4-3-2-1 with Palacio spearheading the formation ahead of Coutinho and Sneijder. This change instantly paid off as Palacio was released past the Vaslui defenders and slotted home Inter's second goal of the game.
With the game in the bag Stramaccioni decided to make his third and final change with less than 10 minutes to go. Taking off the excellent Wesley Sneijder and bringing on the young Brazilian defender Juan Jesus, again switching his formation this time to an unusual 5-3-1-1 with three central defenders and Maicon and Nagatomo playing as attacking wingbacks. Coutinho was in the hole behind Palacio, this formation seemed to take away the natural flow of Inter's play giving Vaslui a lot more time on the ball for the last 8 minutes or so, meaning the formation when defending switched yet again to a 5-4-1 with coutinho dropping deeper to help out the midfield.
All in all this was a good result for Inter and I was especially impressed with how well they moved the ball about and communicated with each other throughout the game. I just hope that in the return leg at the Giuseppe Meazza next week they can really show their dominance and not get complacent as they did in the previous round against Hajduk Split.