javier zanetti is sure fc internazionale milano's shaky form is just down to a long injury list, saying: "when most of the players were fit, everyone said we were better than last season."
fc internazionale milano go into their uefa champions league home game against fc twente with the weight of the world on their shoulders. beset by injuries, the european champions are without a win in five competitive games.
however, captain javier zanetti is certain the barren spell is not evidence of any deeper troubles for rafael benítez's side, explaining: "when most of the players were fit, everybody said we were even better than last season. now they say we are playing badly, worse than last season, but if you look at our injury list, we are missing a lot of men, most of them key players."
inter have slipped to sixth in serie a, picking up just two points from four league games since their last group a encounter. walter samuel (knee ligaments), cristian chivu (groin), diego milito and goalkeeper júlio césar (both thigh) are among the absentees ahead of the twente tie, where victory would guarantee the nerazzurri's progress. "it is just a tough time for us," shrugged zanetti. "we've been unlucky; we are not at our best, but we're looking ahead and we understand that the criticism is normal in the circumstances."
the 37-year-old, massimo moratti's first signing when he became inter president in 1995, has gone through enough highs and lows during his 15 years at the club to know this storm will pass. "these things happen, and in some of those games we deserved more," he said. "in football, things can change fast, and we are doing our best to turn it around and play with the passion that moratti wants from us."
the versatile defender and midfielder has worked with 14 different coaches during his time at inter, and rates benítez – a summer replacement for josé mourinho – despite the club's recent results. "you cannot judge benítez from what we have seen lately," he said. "you have to wait until he has all the players back. we want to achieve something good with him.
"first of all, though, we want to win tomorrow," added zanetti, who led his side to a 2-2 draw in enschede on matchday 1. "we know that twente can play well and that's why we had a tough first game against them, so we have to pay attention. we have to keep calm, and believe that things can change, starting from tomorrow; we will do what we can to make it happen."
esteban cambiasso's strike ten minutes into the second half was sufficient for the holders to confirm their progress from group a.
esteban cambiasso's second-half strike booked fc internazionale milano's place in the knockout stage of the uefa champions league at the expense of fc twente.
the european champions, ravaged by injuries, struggled to translate dominance into goals, but cambiasso's effort ten minutes after the break was just reward for a hard-working performance. defeat ended the prospect of the dutch titleholders' continuing involvement, but they are sure of finishing third and a uefa europa league berth.
inter's profligacy began early on, wesley sneijder shinning a glorious chance wide from four metres in the second minute after jonathan biabiany picked him out. playing just behind samuel eto'o, sneijder was a constant thorn in twente's side and, after forcing a foul from peter wisgerhof, inter's no10 curled the resulting free-kick against the bar with nikolay mihaylov beaten.
though twente went close on 12 minutes when bryan ruiz headed wide, the visitors were largely pegged back in their own half, as dejan stanković and biabiany both tried their luck from range. mihaylov then blocked goran pandev's effort from ten metres before palming away eto'o's curler.
for all their possession, inter were almost caught cold on the half-hour mark, when a loose ball fell to theo janssen on the edge of the area, and the 29-year-old's strike was well saved by luca castellazzi. within seconds the visitors launched another counterattack only for nacer chadli to send a cross-shot beyond the far post, with marc janko free in the area.
at the other end biabiany headed sneijder's corner narrowly wide before cambiasso's goal-bound shot was blocked by the head of thilo leugers. inter were struggling for fluency but battling hard, biabiany causing the dutch champions problems with his pace and teeing up eto'o, who forced another save from mihaylov on 50 minutes. when the breakthrough came it was scrappy and fortuitous, sneijder's free-kick ricocheting off two players and into the path of cambiasso, who gratefully accepted the chance.
the hosts now had their tails up and javier zanetti almost doubled his tally for the season after weaving his way past four players before forcing another save from the besieged mihaylov. inter were carving through michel preud'homme's men at will but squandering chances, sneijder poking wide when through on goal and stanković blazing over on 69 minutes. the hosts might have been made to pay by denny landzaat, who hit the bar on 75 minutes, but inter held out.