Dodo: Napoli draw the turning point for Inter

The Brazilian defender was pleased with his side’s performance and is confident they will improve in the weeks to come

Inter wing-back Dodo is hopeful that the Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Napoli signals the end of their difficult start to the 2014-15 campaign.

Walter Mazzarri’s men have been struggling to find their best form so far this season and sit ninth in the league table after seven games.

Nevertheless, Dodo believes that the weekend’s result could be the start of a series of good results.

“It could be the turning point. We really hope so,” the Brazilian told Inter Channel.

“We did well. We had them back on their heels in the first half. It was a great match and an intense one.

“There’s a lot of talk about the big sides, but both teams really played a good match. They were positioned well and we did a good job ourselves.

“We had two unlucky matches before the game against Napoli and we had to make up for them. We really showed a lot of character.”

Inter have collected nine points from seven matches in Serie A.

Ausilio: Mazzarri is 'wrecked'

The Nerazzurri coach was “simply out of energy” after his side were held at home by former club Napoli and could not bring himself to carry out his post-match interview

Inter director Piero Ausilio has admitted that coach Walter Mazzarri was emotionally and physically “wrecked” after Sunday night’s dramatic draw with Napoli.

Jose Callejon opened the scoring with just 11 minutes to go at San Siro and although the Nerazzurri quickly levelled through Fredy Guarin, the Spaniard struck again in the dying seconds of normal time to seemingly seal all three points for the visitors.

However, Hernanes headed home an injury-time equaliser to ensure Inter avoided a third successive Serie A defeat.

The late drama was apparently too much for former Napoli boss Mazzarri, who failed to appear for his post-match interview with Sky Sport Italia.

“It’s nothing worrying,” replacement Ausilio explained. “He’s just wrecked!

“It was a special game for him, he was sent off and he is simply out of energy.

“He apologises for not coming here, but from Monday onwards he will be able to have his say on the game.

“It was a wonderful 2-2 in many respects. The first half was played with heart, but Inter were also the only team on the field and we deserved more than a goal.

“After the break it was more balanced with chances for both sides and a dramatic almost Premier League style finish.”

Summer signing Nemanja Vidic once again failed to convince at the back for Inter, making a mistake which led to Callejon’s opener, but Ausilio is in no doubt that the former Manchester United captain will soon settle at San Siro.

“It was an error, but there were several teammates who could’ve fixed it,” the Nerazzurri director argued. “We cannot question the quality of a champion like this.”

The point ninth in Serie A, 10 points behind leaders Juventus, and five adrift of third-placed AC Milan.

Benitez: Napoli can still fight for title

The Partenopei currently sit seventh in the Serie A standings but the Spaniard believes that his players proved last year that they can mix it with Italy’s finest

Rafael Benitez still believes that Napoli can fight for this season’s Scudetto – despite already being eight points off top spot.

The Partenopei had the opportunity to close the gap to leaders Juventus when they visited Inter on Sunday night but, despite taking the lead twice in the final 11 minutes through Jose Callejon, they were held to a 2-2 draw.

However, Benitez believes that Napoli, who finished third last season, are more than capable of battling the Bianconeri for the Scudetto.

“We’ve already shown a year ago that we are able to fight at the top,” the Spaniard told Sky Sport Italia.

“I’m not disappointed with the draw but content with the reaction of the team at a difficult ground like this one [the Giuseppe Meazza].

“I’m unhappy because we went ahead twice and twice we conceded right away but, overall, the second half pleased me.

“That’s why I’m talking about a great reaction. In the first 45 minutes we didn’t do what we were supposed to do, but in the second half we created more chances.

“I saw that every passing minute helped our chances because Inter were unbalanced.”

Callejon’s double saw him join Juventus striker Carlos Tevez and AC Milan attacker Keisuke Honda at the top of the goalscorers’ charts, but Napoli’s star forward, Gonzalo Higuain, remains without a Serie A goal to his name this season.

Benitez, though, is in no doubt that the former Real Madrid hitman will break his duck soon.

“He has scored in other competitions in Europe and we expect him to score again in the league,” the ex-Liverpool boss declared.

“He’s a very important player for us.”

Inter 2-2 Napoli: Hernanes the hero in dramatic draw

Jose Callejon looked to have earned the Partenopei all three points with his 90th-minute strike but the Nerazzurri’s Brazil international headed home a last-gasp equaliser

Hernanes netted in the dying seconds as Inter claimed a dramatic 2-2 draw with Napoli at the Giuseppe Meazza on Sunday night.

Jose Callejon looked to have won the game for the Partenopei when he fired home his second goal of the game with just seconds of normal time remaining.

However, Hernanes earned the hosts a point when he headed home in injury time to send San Siro into raptures.

More to follow …

Why Mourinho's Inter fell apart after 2010 treble

ANALYSIS: Rafael Benitez has long taken the blame for the Nerazzurri’s regression in recent years but the club were just as culpable for failing to strengthen an ageing squad

By Mark Doyle

Marco Materazzi still maintains that shortly after Rafael Benitez had taken charge of Inter in 2010, his new boss made him remove press clippings of the most important moments of his career from his locker. The defender alleges that Benitez simply could not stomach the sight of Materazzi celebrating trophy triumphs with former Nerazzurri coach Jose Mourinho.

The Portuguese had led Inter to a historic treble the season before and, while Benitez spoke confidently of winning even more trophies than ‘The Special One’, as far as Materazzi was concerned, the former Liverpool manager was a man racked by insecurity.

“He thought he knew everything,” the World Cup winner said of Benitez, “but he was afraid of his own shadow.”

Benitez, unsurprisingly, remains enraged by Materazzi’s claim about the enforced removal of commemorations of past victories. “It’s a lie, so he’s a liar,” the Madrid native declared last year.

One imagines that Benitez retains just as much disdain for the views of then Inter president Massimo Moratti, who has also portrayed the 54-year-old as a coach incapable of coping with the pressure of following Mourinho.

“When we chose Benitez, we thought his experience would help us to improve the situation,” the oil tycoon stated in January 2011. “But not everyone can withstand such stress.

“Did Mourinho’s legacy weigh on [Benitez]? Yes, I would say it did a lot.

“You could see he felt it and he spoke about it often, maybe this was to justify himself.”

It could indeed be argued that Benitez simply took on a job that he could not handle; that he was simply not up the challenge of succeeding Mourinho. But it is worth remembering that Materazzi was singing from a different hymn sheet just six months previously.

“[Benitez] is a very serious person, a great worker, he has experience of European football … He is different to Jose Mourinho, but this is important because I didn’t want a Mourinho imitator.”

Furthermore, it would seem unfair to attach too much weight to Moratti’s character assessment of Benitez, given he had initially claimed that the former Liverpool boss had been his No.1 choice to replace Mourinho, only to then change his story after appointing Leonardo as the Spaniard’s replacement in December 2010.

“I thought about the candidacy of Leonardo back in June, but then there was no point talking to him about this because he wanted a break after working with Milan,” Moratti told the Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I always saw [Leonardo] as the best successor to Mourinho. He is quite a strong person to be able to withstand such pressure …

“Leonardo has a different personality [to Benitez] and he will not be influenced by memories of Mourinho.”

The spectre of Mourinho may well have haunted Benitez. Mourinho, after all, had left an indelible mark on the club’s history.

As Alex Ferguson said at the time, “It’s tough to take the place of someone who has won as much as Mourinho,” before adding rather prophetically, “One day whoever succeeds me at United will have the same handicap.”

Mourinho was undeniably a tough act to follow. Plus, he and Benitez are very different coaches; very different men. The transition for the players was never going to be smooth. But it clearly should not have been so rough.

Benitez, after all, inherited a squad which had just won the treble. However, over the course of his six-month tenure, he lost numerous players to injuries and even more to poor man-management.

The high volume of Inter players sidelined by muscular problems could be attributed to misfortune. However, it has long been claimed that Benitez was to blame for implementing a rigorous weight training regime that allegedly overwhelmed players who were drained after going on World Cup duty just days after a successful treble-winning campaign.

However, in the infamous outburst after the Club World Cup success that sealed his sacking, Benitez pointed the figure of blame at his players and, by implication, Mourinho.

“These lads have done no gym work for two years and to compensate for this they go [to the gym without my knowing] and they hide injuries.”

Of course, by that stage, Benitez had already lost the dressing room. Indeed, Materazzi was by no means the only dissident, with Dejan Stankovic admitting shortly after Benitez’s dismissal that he would never forgive him for dropping him for the Club World Cup final.

In such circumstances, it was no surprise that Moratti decided to sack Benitez after the Champions League winner publicly challenged the president to either back him in the January transfer market or remove him from his position.

However, the question remains as to why Moratti had refused to heed to his new coach’s request to strengthen the Inter squad during the summer of 2010.

“The truth is that the club and technical staff sat down together to plan a renewal of the squad, including the names of new players, but these suggestions were never followed,” Benitez claimed in July of last year.

“The way I see it, this was the cause of everything that happened at Inter that year and possibly even in the following campaigns.”

After all these years, maybe that’s all that Benitez and Moratti can agree on: that the Spaniard’s tenure set Inter back years.

The only thing they would continue to disagree on is whose fault that was.

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