MILAN - Inter Milan were walking on air
after Leonardo's arrival but the Serie A champions have been
running through sand in their last two games and Sunday's visit
of seventh-placed Palermo will be another stiff test.
Last weekend's 3-1 league defeat at Udinese was Inter's
first in six games under the Brazilian coach, who replaced
Rafael Benitez on December 24 after last term's treble winners had
endured a difficult first half of the campaign.
Wednesday's fortunate Italian Cup quarter-final win at
Napoli was thanks to a penalty shootout after a poor attacking
display from Inter in the 0-0 draw, where the hosts peppered the
goal for long spells.
Injuries to Dejan Stankovic and Ivan Cordoba took some of
the gloss off the win but the pair are suspended for the Palermo
game anyway, as is left back Cristian Chivu.
"We must keep in mind that the side is adapting to the
change in coach and this has a bearing on performances," said
Leonardo, whose fifth-placed side trail leaders and his former
club AC Milan by nine points.
Striker Diego Milito may return from a minor thigh problem
and last season's club top scorer is badly needed with deputy
Goran Pandev looking utterly unconvincing in front of goal.
His problems underline why Inter want another striker before
the end of the January transfer window with Sampdoria's
Giampaolo Pazzini the favourite to join after Samp president
Riccardo Garrone said "we will see" when asked about a deal.
"If we can add a player it will be an improvement," Leonardo
Milan have already been busy in the transfer window with
Antonio Cassano and Dutch duo Mark van Bommel and Urby
The latter two made impressive debuts in midfield in
Wednesday's 2-1 Italian Cup win at Sampdoria while Cassano has
produced several magical passes in recent weeks.
Milan, though, are not firing on all cylinders at the moment
and visit Catania on Saturday in the Sicilians' first
home outing under new uncompromising coach Diego Simeone.
Their quirky Massimino ground is a tough place to go at any
time and Milan's long injury list adds to the difficulty.
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