Last night's penalty against Inter came at an unfortunate time and it is a good job Luca Castellazzi managed to deflect German Denis' spot kick and rescue a point for the Beneamata. The post-match comments would have otherwise been even more heated than they already were.
It has been an odd campaign for Inter with five penalties in eight games given against (the average is eight per season). If anything, yesterday's incident gave Inter an alibi to complain ahead of the Derby d'Italia, which will see them take on Juventus this Saturday night.
General manager Ernesto Paolillo was pretty straightforward at the end of the Atalanta game, highlighting all the doubts concerning the penalties given against Inter. Almost three hours after the final whistle, Paolillo went as far as interrupting a popular TV show, Controcampo, with a phone call claiming that referees are quite happy to punish Inter when in doubt.
In a League which is still recovering from the Calciopoli scandal, such statements hinting to a conspiracy theory against Inter cannot be taken lightly. Suggesting that it has become normal to award penalties against the Nerazzurri is certainly something the FIGC should be looking into.
But President Massimo Moratti promptly got involved in what could have turned out to be a diplomatic gaffe before facing Juventus in what is already set to be a tense and feisty encounter. “It's just a coincidence, but it is a little frustrating to see so many penalties given against us,” noted Moratti. “I've already spoken to Paolillo about that. He spoke instinctively, but I don't think he said the wrong thing…”
So, everything back to normal? Not really, because the stance Inter took against the referees could cause a chain reaction. And knowing how things work in calcio, chances are it will. The Nerazzurri have already put an extra dose of pressure on the official who will referee the game on Saturday. The spotlight will be on the man in black even more than necessary and it will cause excessive analysis of his decisions and eventual mistakes.
If once again a penalty was to be – rightly or wrongly – given against the Beneamata, it would almost certainly cause anger and disbelief in the Nerazzurri, giving them the ‘proof' that there is a plot ruled by the referees and perhaps by the same Andrea Agnelli, who has been fighting a crusade against them over the past years.
On the other hand, if Juventus were to be penalised by the referee, there would be turmoil in calcio too. The typically Italian process of complaining against decisions in order to get something back will automatically kick off, feeding a vicious circle. Indeed, it is for the sake of calcio that Saturday's match goes as smoothly as possible, limiting the moviola and hoping that last night's penalty in Bergamo wasn't the straw that broke the camel's back.