The Cult of Calcio correspondent and SPAL supporter Marco Natali was on the stands of Paolo Mazza Stadium in Ferrara yesterday, to see his dearest Biancazzurri snatching a point out of the hands of Inter. This is his recap of the match, seen with the eyes of a supporter, and therefore inevitably, beautifully biased. In our new column “Stands by Me,” we will leave room to those who are the real essence of calcio – the fans – and listen to their football stories as lived from the most exclusive place: The stadium stands.
In a sold-out Paolo Mazza Stadium, SPAL face an Inter which must win to remain close to the Champions League qualification group. On the other hand, the Biancazzurri are also forced to win, not to lose contact with Crotone in the relegation battle.
Striker Sergio Floccari gets injured during warm up, and coach Leonardo Semplici decides to replace him with an offensive midfielder, new joiner Jasmin Kurtic, rather than with another forward. This way, his 3-5-1-1 module actually ends up featuring a six-man midfield line.
Both teams start the match very cautiously. Inter appear apathetic, and their only chance is a shot by Antonio Candreva hitting goalkeeper Alex Meret – back on the pitch after a six-month stop due to a pubalgia. The game also features an interesting battle on Inter’s left flank between Ivan Perisic and Federico Mattiello, with the Biancazzurro clearly prevailing. Right before the break, a nice volley by Mauro Icardi is stopped by Francesco Vicari.
But just a few minutes into the second half, with SPAL containing their aggressiveness, a cross by Joao Cancelo, which Meret fails to go for, stumbles into Vicari’s foot and gives Inter the 0-1 goal. Nerazzurri switch to control mode, and call again Meret to duty only with a few long-range shots. SPAL’s coach Semplici sends in a new striker, Alberto Paloschi, whose header misses the target from a good position.
Just when it seems to be over for the home team, Mirco Antenucci receives the ball from a late corner kick and, with a feint, delivers it to Paloschi – who is the quickest to hit with a winning header. The Paolo Mazza Stadium literally explodes, SPAL keep pushing during the extra minutes as now they believe in it. Inter trying to lose time, waiting for the final whistle, is the perfect image of the match.
When the referee calls it a day, the Ferraresi supporters, who during the match dedicated some chants to their former captain Luca Mora (he just moved to Spezia in Serie B), call the team under the stands to celebrate them.
A mediocre Inter also salute their disappointed fans, Davide Santon being the only one to throw his shirt at the supporters from Ferrara. A fair draw between the two teams, but on the stands the match was clearly won by the Biancazzurri.
January 28, 2018 – Serie A 2017-18 Round 22
SCORERS: 48’ Vicari (I) 48’ (o.g.), 90’ Paloschi (S)
|SPAL (3-5-1-1): Meret; Cionek, Vicari (86′ Bonazzoli), Felipe; Lazzari, Schiattarella (75′ Paloschi), Viviani, Grassi, Mattiello (dall’82’ F. Costa); Kurtic; Antenucci. (Gomis, Marchegiani, Salamon, Vaisanen, Cremonesi, Dramé, Everton Luiz, Vitale, Floccari) Coach: Semplici|
|INTER (4-2-3-1): Handanovic; Joao Cancelo, Skriniar, Miranda, D’Ambrosio; Vecino, Borja Valero (91′ Rafinha); Candreva (46′ Eder), Brozovic (86′ Gagliardini), Perisic; Icardi. (Padelli, Berni, Lisandro Lopez, Ranocchia, Karamoh, Santon, Dalbert, Nagatomo, Pinamonti) Coach: Spalletti|
REFEREE: Mr. Giacomelli from Trieste
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Paloschi (S); Extra Time: 2’ 1st Half, 4’ 2nd Half.