Friday November 9 2012
Inter, forget about Europe!

As Inter qualify for the last 32 of the Europa League, Alex Mott explains why the Nerazzurri have to abandon their hopes of winning the competition for the greater good.

As far as hostile footballing atmospheres go, Belgrade is probably up there. The Partizan stadium with its flares and wall of sound can lay claim to being one of the least enjoyable away trips in Europe.

The fact then that Inter came away from Serbia with a resounding 3-1 win is testament to what they have become under Andrea Stramaccioni – a resolute side that can score goals. Rodrigo Palacio bagged two second half strikes and Fredy Guarin sealed the win with a late one of his own.

It was a successful Thursday night for the Nerazzurri, as they qualified for the knock-out stages of the Europa League and continued their winning run that stretches all the way back to September.

New signings have bedded into the squad supremely well – Samir Handanovic had another excellent game, Alvaro Pereira is proving an astute arrival down the left, Palacio and Guarin both arrived less than a year ago.

Everything looks rosy in the San Siro side's garden then – a young boss with the world at his feet, a team with genuine title credentials and cross-city neighbours becoming a laughing stock.

Not since the Jose Mourinho days have things looked this bright for Massimo Moratti's men. So why then could Thursday night spell the end to all this goodwill?

We've seen it time and again across the continent – juggling the demands of a European campaign and a domestic one is nigh on impossible. Over the past 20 years, only four teams have won the Europa League/UEFA Cup in the same year they won their own League title.

Porto did it. Galatasaray were another. CSKA Moscow as well. Only Valencia have won that particular double whilst in a major European League.

Last season none of the finalists in the Champions League or the Europa League were League champions. Chelsea didn't even finish in the top four. Bayern Munich finished eight points behind Borussia Dortmund. Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao were two and nine points respectively outside La Liga's top four.

Unless you're a Barcelona or a Manchester United, it simply can't be done. Inter, today not as strong as their treble winning team, are a good side. They could be great. But they just don't have the depth to deal with the rigours of a two-pronged assault.

They proved last weekend they can be considered Serie A contenders. The Nerazzurri defeated a Juventus side who had gone 49 matches unbeaten. It bares repeating again – 49 games without losing a single one. And Stramaccioni's men were fully deserving of the win. No dodgy decisions. No contentious calls. This was 90 minutes of pure dominance.

Playing Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti for the entirety in Belgrade though, just undermines all that good work in Turin.

The last 32 of the Europa League starts in February. Inter have to play Fiorentina and a Milan derby over that period. Get to the last 16, and the fixtures immediately following their European jaunts are Sampdoria away and the arrival of Juve in Lombardy.

If they want to win Serie A, Inter have to abandon Europe's second club competition. Play the youngsters, gain experience and focus fully on knocking Antonio Conte's side off their perch.

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Have your say...
I'm not an Inter fan but if I was I would rather finish in the top 3 of serie A and win the Europa League than win Serie A and get knocked out of the Europa League!
on the 9th November, 2012 at 3:40pm
It's this sort of attitude that's made so many see the Europa League as a second rate competition.This is a chance to win a trophy for gods sake.In the days before money became more important than winning silverware and everyone became obsessed with the Champions League gravy train this competition in its old EUFA Cup format was a trophy clubs tried to win.
on the 9th November, 2012 at 3:37pm
I disagree! Inter have a large squad, and should take inspiration from the likes of Porto. If I was coach, I would aim for as many trophies as possible, it is good for the moral of the players,(instilling a winning mentality), fan's, & the club. A good run in Europe, will also give Inter good exposure, & earn them respect on the continent. Even if Inter forsake the EL, there is no guarantee that they will win Serie A. I want all Italian sides to take the EL seriously!
on the 9th November, 2012 at 3:32pm
I think it would be a mistake if Inter were to throw away their chances in the Europa League.

As things stand, for Italy's sake more than anything else, I would prefer Inter to finish 2nd or 3rd in Serie A - because let's face it, we all know Juventus are going to win the thing anyway, especially with contentious decisions seemingly always going in their favour - and then win the EL, bringing home some much needed coefficient points.
on the 9th November, 2012 at 3:25pm
I think Strama is smart enough to know when he needs to pull the plug in Europe. Nobody can tell him anything. So far he has balanced everything very well and can genuinely contest in both competitions. Palacio, I feel would be the catalyst because he seems to be the fittest player who can play week in and out with same intensity
on the 9th November, 2012 at 3:12pm
As former NFL coach Herm Edwards said "you play to win the game." You can't pick and choose your competitions. Teams owe it to their fans to field the best team possible. This excuse that because your in one competiton means you can't win the league is garbage. It started in Napoli last year.

What should be looked at is the serie a schedule makers, to ensure that teams play a smaller league side going into the champions league weeks.
on the 9th November, 2012 at 3:02pm
What a load of rubbish you talk!!!
on the 9th November, 2012 at 3:00pm
A lot of people are talking about the UEFA Co-eff and that is understandable. But Inter have to think about themselves and not Italian football as a whole. To all you Inter fans - would you rather win the Scudetto or the Europa League?
on the 9th November, 2012 at 2:50pm
You should also take into consideration the club's european ranking for next year's champions league, INTER now still in the top 8, this helps you to be places as a top seed in the group, abandoning Europa cup will see them drop down the list and risk facing a stronger opponent, look at MAN CIty for instance, always being placed in a strong group and its affecting them a lot . But most of all, i thinkINTER got what it takes to go far in both serieA and the europa cup!!!!
on the 9th November, 2012 at 2:43pm
Its dis attitude dat cost italy a champions league spot. Y would anyone say 4get about d Europa league? Very soon Portugal, France and even Netherlands would have more UCL spots dan Italy.
on the 9th November, 2012 at 2:42pm
This article is unfounded and outrageous, where to begin? No more than two years ago won a historic 5 trophys on the trot, falling short of Barca's sextuple the year prior, and now in '12 a EL double is a dream? You don't win everything by choosing what or what not to win, this mentality is for small clubs that taste silver so rarely they go into panic mode and put all the eggs in one basket. Blind men can see this team is more than capable of the x2, and the copa italia should they desire it.
on the 9th November, 2012 at 2:37pm
This is the most ridiculous piece of writing I have ever read. Much has been made about how Italian teams' performance in the EL has caused the coefficient and therefore their position in Europe fall like a rock sinking in water, Napoli were criticized for not fielding their strongest side in the tournament and going from one defeat to another. But Inter need to forget about EL for the league? At this rate Italian teams may as well forget about CL, there'll be a spot for just 1 team soon anyways
on the 9th November, 2012 at 2:36pm
This kind of thinking is exactly the reason why Serie A lost one UCL place. In terms of co-efficient points the EL is on level with CL. If Italy wants to keep teams on the top level of European football, EL is a competition that cannot be forgotten. Even when it takes its toll on league performance
on the 9th November, 2012 at 2:34pm
This attitude is exactly the the problem is with Italian football at the moment. Yes, it may not have the luster or financial rewards of Champions League football, but to not take it seriously is a big mistake for Italian football on a whole. The third place spot is being put at risk, and for what? Trying to win the scudetto? Shouldn't the best team be able to win both competitions? Or are we just doing 'the best we can'...
on the 9th November, 2012 at 2:28pm
And Italian football fans wonder why we only have 3 CL places.

on the 9th November, 2012 at 2:26pm
"For the Greater good"? Surely the greater good would be Inter win the Europa league, increasing Serie A's coefficient and therefore the number of teams that qualify for the champions league? Which in turn would increase revenue into the league
on the 9th November, 2012 at 2:24pm

its this mentality that has cost italy their 4 CL spots. any true great team will always play to win whatever competition they are in. not an inter fan but for the greater good which is the league i hope they play to win it. instead of being embarrassing like napoli, udinese, liverpool etc etc
on the 9th November, 2012 at 2:23pm
well done boys i feel you guys through my heart and keep that feeling going with out slumber and let feel you again on this weekend. up intermilan
on the 9th November, 2012 at 2:23pm
I disagree. Inter can win Serie A and the Europa League, especially as Juve will also be involved in European competition after Christmas.

It would be great - and a great achievement for Inter to win both Serie A and the Europa League and European success would give Italy some much needed co-efficiency points.

Inter need to heavily sacrifice the Coppa Italia, not the Europa League.

Who I really want to win the Europa League, though, is Napoli! If they play Cavani, who knows!!! It's possible
on the 9th November, 2012 at 2:14pm
Couldn't agree more with this post, who cares about the EL anyway?
on the 9th November, 2012 at 2:09pm

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