Forza inter

Trip Start Jan 02, 2008
Trip End Feb 05, 2008

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Flag of Italy  ,
Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Let me set the scene for you - through a combination of momentary average defending and negative tactics of their opposition, the home team, Internazionale Milano (or just Inter), found themselves down 2-1 to 14 places below them Parma, with 88 minutes gone at the San Siro Stadium in Milan, this last Sunday evening. Much like Australia when they faced Japan in Kaiserslautern at World Cup 2006, Inter needed a hero.

And a just like Australia, they got one. They're Tim Cahill - Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Ibra. Swedish dude with a Serbian name, Inter's best player and one of the best in the business. He'd started well, but like a number of his team-mates, had faded as the game worn on. But there's a reason that this guy gets 6 million euro's a year to play football and I don't - he's goooood. Really good.

89th minute - Ibra skips around two Parma defenders, then the goalkeeper and fires a shot toward the goal. The last defender lunges and saves the ball with a combination of his head and his forearm. You can't do that - penalty. Plus, red card. After 5 minutes of Parma player theatrics and arguements with the referee, Ibra takes his penalties scored count for the season from 5 to 6. Game on.

Inter are back in it. It's 2-2, and into added time. Forza Inter! C'mon Inter! Only 3 minutes. Parma player are dropping like flies in a bid to waste precious seconds. Italian's waste time better than anyone. Surely a draw is the best Inter can hope for.

In days gone by, a draw would've been fine. Inter had been average since around the 30 minute mark when they opened the scoring, and effectively had got out of gaol thanks to the controversial penalty. But Ibra doesn't dig draws. He digs winning.

92nd minute - Inter steal the ball in midfield and charge forward. Parma have got all of their 10 remaining players behind the ball and are hanging on for dear life. The ball finds it's way to the Chilean, Luis Jimenez, on the right wing. He fires in a cross, Ibra, holding off his marker, controls the ball on his chest and volley's past the keeper. GOOOOAAAALLLL!!! The San Siro goes nuts. We go nuts. Ibra goes nuts, mauling his coach, Roberto Mancini. Chris goes nuts, mauling me. Inter had come from nowhere. They were done. They had nothing. Now they were up 3-2. Chris' pre-game ritual of rubbing my beanie until I punched him in the stomach was going to pay off. Another 3-2 win for Inter, just like in Siena a week ago. Full-time whistle. Parma player collapse on the turf, broken. Inter player all converge on Ibra, jubilant. Football is wicked.

This match could well be the one that defines this football trip of the devil of death. It had everything that makes football such an amazing, exhilarating, sometimes violent in Italy, spectacle. And incredible venue - the San Siro is an 80,000 seat monster and argueably the home of football; a loud, passionate crowd, equipped with the 3 F's - flags, flares and firecrackers; goals - any game with 5 of them is going to be a cracker; and controversey - it was a penalty, it wasn't...3 days later, people still don't know for sure.

But, more than these things, it's the emotions we felt as we watched it all unfold, that will be remembered as easily as the result. We felt it all - excitement, nerves, frustration, anger, despair, exhilaration and of course, blind, unbridled happiness. This is why we're here, running around Italy like chicken's with our head's cut off. This is why we love football.

As we made our way home on the tram we asked our friend, Gretta, who had flown in from Berlin to join us in Milan for the game - "So, what did you think of your first Italian football experience?". "Oh, yeah, not bad I guess..." Not bad! Not Bad! Chicks - will they never understand?

Next stop on the football roadshow - Roma...but first, we're going back to Milan for a Coppa Italia quarterfinal first leg between Inter and arch rivals Juventus. I hate Juventus... 
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