MILAN – There’s no glory without suffering. Difficult moments are experienced every season, and such times are often accompanied by worried thoughts about the future. But when there are difficulties, it’s incumbent on a team to stick together, to summon mental strength, to begin the run-up and go again. We’ve chosen ten moments which represented turning points in the glorious 2009/10 season. From the summer transfer window to the final in Madrid, you can find the video at the bottom of this article.
1. Ibrahimovic, the No.10 shirt, Samuel Eto'o
Inter’s 2009 summer tour began with a change: after previously wearing the No.8 shirt, Zlatan Ibrahimovic opted to switch to No.10, which had belonged to Adriano prior to this. But images of Ibrahimovic playing with this new number on his back would be limited: the Swede was sold to Barcelona. However, as part of the deal, Samuel Eto'o headed in the opposite direction. Inter’s attack was about to begin a new chapter: on 28 July, Eto’o was presented to the Nerazzurri faithful. His first words would prove to be prophetic: “I’ll work hard to win everything.”
2. The Supercoppa Italiana defeat and Mourinho’s quotes
Inter’s season began with a disappointing defeat to Lazio in the Supercoppa Italiana: on 8 August 2009, it finished 2-1 to the Biancocelesti thanks to goals from Matuzalem and Rocchi, with Samuel Eto’o’s goal proving to be just a consolation. A trophy which Inter weren’t able to get their hands on, but José Mourinho cut to the chase following the match: “A new way of playing is coming together, we’re a real team and have a promising future,” were his words after giving his medal to a fan who’d flown from Italy to China.
3. The draw against Bari and Wesley Sneijder’s arrival
The Supercoppa Italiana defeat followed by a sluggish start in the league: on matchday one, the Nerazzurri were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Bari. Eto’o gave Mourinho’s men the lead from the penalty spot before Kutuzov brought the away side level. It was then time for the arrival of Wesley Sneijder, who joined from Real Madrid just in time for the Derby on matchday two. “I’m finally here,” said the Dutchman prior to selecting the No.10 shirt. The attacking playmaker for Mourinho’s 4-3-1-2 formation had finally been signed.
4. The defeat against Barcelona, a lesson for the future
On 24 November 2009, Inter were beaten 2-0 by Barcelona, with Guardiola leaving out Messi and Ibrahimovic for the full 90 minutes. The result was never in doubt, as Mourinho himself admitted. It was a lesson that Inter comprehensively took on board and one which would prove very useful as the team prepared for their semi-final Champions League clash against the same opponents later on.
5. Chivu’s head injury and his return to action
On 6 January, Cristian Chivu suffered a terrible head injury. The man himself recently told us about his remarkable experience during that period, with his return coming 77 days later. He then bagged his first Nerazzurri goal in Inter’s important 3-1 victory over Atalanta.
6. Two red cards in Inter vs. Sampdoria, an unlucky draw
On 20 February 2010, Inter vs. Sampdoria finished 0-0 at San Siro. But it’s a game which is difficult to forget: Samuel was sent off after 31 minutes before Cordoba was given his marching orders seven minutes later. However, despite being down to nine men (against eleven and then ten), Inter had a number of opportunities to win the match and could consider themselves very unfortunate not to emerge victorious. On top of this, there was a high price to pay: Cambiasso and Muntari would be suspended for two matches, while Samuel and Cordoba would have to sit one fixture out. Furthermore, Mourinho would be forced to watch from the stands for three games following his remonstrations with referee Tagliavento.
7. The defeat to Catania, the win in London
Between March and April, Inter experienced their most difficult spell of the campaign, with the Nerazzurri suffering a potentially hugely damaging defeat in Catania. It was undoubtedly a blow. But Inter responded in the best possible manner four days later as Eto’o’s goal secured a 1-0 win against Chelsea in the round of 16 second-leg clash between the sides in London. José Mourinho’s switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation had paid off.
8. The defeat in Rome, the win in Rome
Roma 2-1 Inter, goals from De Rossi, Milito and Toni. This was a big setback, with Inter on the ropes and just one point ahead of the Giallorossi following the clash in the capital. But lessons were learnt: on 5 May, the Nerazzurri beat Roma at the Olimpico in the Coppa Italia final to win their first trophy of the season.
9. The draw in Florence, Roma take top spot before Inter hit back
Julio Cesar was unable to claim the ball and Kroldrup scored in scrappy fashion: the 2-2 draw between Fiorentina and Inter led to Roma overtaking the Nerazzurri in the league. Inter were second for two matchdays, beating Juventus and Atalanta as they looked to regain top spot. And Mourinho’s men did just that thanks to the Giallorossi’s home defeat to Sampdoria. With 35 games played, it was in the Nerazzurri’s hands again.
10. Digging in at Camp Nou, a glorious night in Madrid
In their semi-final second-leg showdown against Barcelona in the Champions League, Inter were reduced to ten men on the half-hour mark following Thiago Motta’s sending off. A game where the Nerazzurri had to dig in, a defeat which opened the doors to the final in Madrid. A match that Inter would win.