When Diego Milito pushed in a scrapper in the 75th minute of Inter Milan's Champion's League elimination match against Marseille, I thought the floodgates had opened. This club, while a bit aged, had too much talent to let the French upstarts pull the upset. The goal evened the aggregate score 1-1, and Inter had looked threatening all game.
But Claudio Ranieri's squad would not have their day. Marseille's Brandao would shock the club with a goal in stoppage time and, despite tallying a penalty minutes later, Inter was eliminated from the competition on aggregate and an "away goals" tiebreaker.
It seems par for the course for this team who finds themselves middling in a tough Serie A campaign. But what supporters must be asking is, "what happened?" What happened to the team who won the Champions League in 2010, and who gave an explosive and talented AC Milan a run for their money last year in Italy?
The roster is still talented and deep. A few players are aging -- most notably the skipper, Javier Zanetti -- but I'd even argue that he's been in top form. They've still got Wesley Sneijder, Dejan Stankovic, Milito, and Maicon.
What's changed, you ask? It seems clear as day to me. The addition of Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan has altered the team chemistry. This was never a good fit for Inter, who can't seem to get the star striker the ball in dangerous spots. Sneijder and Esteban Cambiaso, normally brilliant creators, have been rendered somewhat ineffective.
When Forlan was subbed out of the game against Marseille, he appeared frustrated and angry. He didn't even stop at the bench for a word with his manager, but rather went straight to the locker room. Maybe there's more than meets the eye here, but to me this frustration and anger is not conducive to a winning environment.
Ranieri had better reel his team in and get them to rally, or else this dismal season will meet an equally dismal end.