BREMEN - Inter Milan coach Rafa
Benitez can expect to feel the pressure again this season after
his makeshift team threw away the chance to top Champions League
Group A, slumping to a 3-0 defeat at Werder Bremen on Tuesday.
The Germans, already eliminated after failing to win a match
in their group until Tuesday, struck three times and hit the
woodwork twice as the sluggish Italians looked nothing like the
side that won the trophy last season.
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Inter finished the group stage second behind Tottenham
Hotspur, who drew 3-3 at Twente Enschede, when a win against
Bremen would have been enough to put them top.
Spaniard Benitez, who took over after Jose Mourinho won the
treble last season and then left to coach Real Madrid, had
already had some close shaves this season.
The defeat means they have now lost seven games in all
competitions, as many as in the whole of last season under
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Club boss Massimo Moratti said recently that, in the past,
he would have sacked Benitez for such a bad run but he was less
trigger-happy these days.
Inter's performance against Werder, albeit with a largely
second-string team, will do nothing to improve Benitez's
standing with his president as his team are also far from
convincing in the league, lying in fifth place after losing to
Lazio 3-1 at the weekend.
With his eyes on the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi later this
month, the coach opted to rest several key players including
Dutchman Wesley Sneijder.
The side were also missing Argentine striker Diego Milito
through injury and defender Lucio with influenza.
"This was a match where we had already qualified. For me it
is different. The important game was the last one with Twente,"
Benitez told Sky Italia.
"We tried young players and we did not risk more injuries. I
do not believe my future depends on the World Club Cup."
The Germans, also far from spectacular this season, took a
deserved lead through Sebastian Proedl's header in the 38th and
doubled it with Marko Arnautovic four minutes after the restart.
Claudio Pizarro added another goal two minutes from time
after Bremen had rattled the bar twice late in the game with a
Per Mertesacker header and an Aaron Hunt shot.
Bremen have never lost to an Italian side at home in 15
With top Champions League striker Samuel Eto'o absent from
any offensive move, all Inter could produce was a Goran Pandev
cross that accidentally hit the post in the 66th minute and a
shot that rattled the bar with the last kick of the match.
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