Misfiring Inter don't take their chances
Internazionale's 2014-15 Serie A campaign got off to a sputtering start as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Torino on Sunday.
Walter Mazzarri's side can thank goalkeeper Samir Handanovic for the point, as for the second straight year he saved a Torino penalty to preserve the draw.
As expected, Mazzarri repaid Mateo Kovacic for his sublime performance in midweek by playing him more further forward than usual -- into more of a trequartista role.
That move allowed Mazzarri to play Gary Medel and Yann M'Vila alongside each other in the midfield with Kovacic and Hernanes ahead of them. Indeed, Medel is perfect for Mazzarri's system as he is happy to sit in front of the back three and break up opposition attacks.
Looking at the average positions from Sunday's game via ESPN's gamecast, Medel (No. 18) spent most of the match just in front of Nemanja Vidic (No. 15), blocking any Torino movements through the middle.
So with the back three well protected by the Chilean, M'Vila, Hernanes and Kovacic were free to dominate the middle of the park. With a massive 61 percent of possession, the Nerazzurri could have been mistaken for the home side.
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As mentioned in Inter's season preview, Mazzarri has one of the best group of midfielders to call on in the Serie A and the domination that we saw on Sunday could be a familiar trait this season.
However, just like last season, Inter's Achilles' heel is turning that possession into goals.
Despite having the lion's share of possession, only two out of 14 shots were on target, which was very disappointing considering that over half the chances created were inside the Torino penalty box.
If Mazzarri's side is to launch a serious challenge for a top-three finish this season they need to do a better job of getting more shots on target.
Overall, supporters left with mixed feelings after the draw. A point and a clean sheet away from home is always good. But this is a match that Inter dominated and should have won, so it feels more like two points dropped instead of a point gained.
Nightmare for Vidic
Nemanja Vidic's Serie A debut was a nightmare. It was his foul on Fabio Quagliarella that resulted in the Torino penalty, and then he was given a second yellow card late in stoppage time for applauding the officials after a decision.
It was a poor move by Vidic, and not the kind of move one would expect from an experienced pro like him. Vidic was miss Inter's next match on Sept. 14 against Sassuolo.
Transfer window dealings
There are still about 24 hours left to go in the summer transfer window, and it looks like Ricky Alvarez is heading to England to join Sunderland on a two-year loan.
At the start of last season, Mazzarri played Alvarez just behind Palacio in a 3-5-1-1 formation and he was the best player in the league for the four weeks.
Then Mazzarri switched Alvarez and Fredy Guarin to give the Nerazzurri some added defensive help and Alvarez never was able to recapture the form he had earlier in the season.
Played in the right position, Alvarez can be a star, and it will be interesting to see how he handles the physical nature of the Premier League.
Fredy Guarin was not in the 18-man squad that faced Torino, an indication that he will be either sold or sent out on loan before the window closes.
Guarin has made it clear that doesn't want to be at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, and that he wants to go to Juventus.
The majority of Nerazzurri fans would be happy to see Guarin go. Inter's director of football, Marco Branca, has done a terrific job strengthening the team's midfield both in January and this summer, and Inter have enough quality midfielders that the departure of Guarin will hardly be noticed.
With the international break, the next match for Inter will be at home to Sassuolo on Sept. 14. Sassuolo opened up their 2014-15 campaign by drawing 1-1 at home to Cagliari on Sunday.
Last season Inter beat Sassuolo 1-0 at home last season, and Mazzarri will be looking for a similar three points from this match.