Tag Archive for 'Inter'

Why cheer for Inter tomorrow

This year’s Champions League final will be played by two teams, one of which is given as the underdog, Inter, over the other, Manchester City. The reasons given for formulating this choice are many, not the least of which is that it is led by a coach who has been dominant on the world stage since several years such as Pep Guardiola.

In this situation, Inter Milan is part of that category called underdog, defined as a team that is at a disadvantage and is expected to lose. Stories of underdogs are full of mythology, cinema, and sports. So why should we be drawn to David vs. Goliath or Rocky Balboa, Cremonese reaching the final stages of the Coppa Italia or Leicester winning the English championship? Why root for Inter Milan?

First, for identification, this is essentially true for fans of this team, who have a strong pre-existing affiliation. Still others have a less intense connection but will support it as an Italian team. There is, however, a third category of people who will root for Inter because it is the underdog team, one may choose to sympathize, for the underdog team with which one has no prior affiliation. Since the success of underdogs is by definition unexpected, this can increase the excitement of rooting for them. In other words, people may root for Inter for the simple reason that unexpected victories are more emotionally satisfying than expected victories; conversely, expected defeats are not as hard to bear as unexpected defeats. Being on the side of those who might get a less likely outcome is personally more emotional than choosing the opposite side.

However, the first ones who will have to manifest this mentality are the Inter players and staff. They must be their own first supporters. I conclude with a thought from Marcello Lippi upon his arrival at Juventus: “In my career I have never won anything, you have not won anything for ten years. It will be time for things to change. We will be in front of a big set table, where every cup is a dish. No one will be more hungry than we are.”

Inter and its personality problems

In this league, Inter is demonstrating a lack of personality on the part of the players who seem not to have understood what the logic of a race in stages like the league is, in which regularity of pace is decisive for achieving important results. It is an issue of paramount importance for anyone who wants to achieve challenging goals. Many people today have this problem. One can also have positive self-esteem, which consists of the value we place on ourselves as people, but at the same time have low confidence. It is possible, because confidence is skill-driven and reflects the optimism of knowing how to deal with specific situations and circumstances in a seemingly spontaneous way. It is more easily influenced by external events and, therefore, is modifiable according to the situations one is experiencing. I have met several athletes who are motivated, focused, and competent but lack confidence.

Confidence is like a crystal glass, beautiful and fragile.

Usually in these athletes their actual competence is higher than the degree of confidence in it. They have difficulty drawing optimistic explanations from their successful experiences, thus they do not nurture the growth of their confidence.

Positive psychology is very clear on this point, we need to set aside global explanations of the mistakes we make. This happens when we tell ourselves “I will never understand, I always make the same mistakes” or “same mistake again, I don’t learn.” Whereas we need to engage, thinking that mistakes point the way to improvement, so let’s accept them and commit to doing differently. It has to become an automatic way of thinking and for it to happen you have to do it, some learn faster for others it will take months.

The question is, “When I am in the situations that are most important to me, what do I want my dominant thinking to be? And what do I do?”

For this to happen in competition, this way of being must already be inside the athlete, it cannot be invented on the spot. It must be practiced all the time in training; it must become a spontaneous way of thinking and acting.

Inter: its leadership problems

Inter’s march in this sports season has characteristics that deserve psychological evaluation. It has won 12 matches but lost 6 and drawn only 1. These data seem to highlight an unbalanced team mentality between winning or losing. An aspect that was not present last year, in contrast, in which the draws were as numerous as those of the other top six teams. Another aspect highlighted after the resumption of the championship is that after important winning performances against Napoli and the final against Milan two defeats against lower level teams occurred. Finally, the Skriniar issue. How was it possible for the team captain to be sent off for two serious fouls? Not to mention the difficulties Lukaku continues to show on the pitch.

It seems to me that these data highlight the lack of continuity in the quality of effort, which in my opinion for any team should constitute the true 12th player on the pitch and which many summarize with the words “collective strength.” The sources of this trait lie in the role played by the coach, who must be adept in his daily work at leading interpersonal relationships among the players and getting them to recognize how mutual support is critical to success.

However, the strength of the collective also lies in having player-leaders. Joachim Low who led Germany for many years winning the World Cup in 2014 was talking about this when he said: “Leading athletes have always been necessary. Without leading athletes you cannot be successful.” This is the kind of leadership that needs to be shared among some players in the team. These are players who through their role as captain or for other reasons influence the players as a whole to strive their best to achieve the common goal.

This leadership style currently seems to be lacking at Inter motivated to play their best only with great teams and not with others. Against these, however, the weaknesses of an uncohesive collective to pursue the long-term goal represented by fighting to win the championship emerge.

Inter e Juve crisis

A team’s crisis occurs when problems with play and a reduced collective cohesion between players and coach weld together. This resulted in yet another bad performance by Juventus against Monza and Inter’s third defeat in the league.

If the game is negatively influenced by injuries, the inclusion of new signings, the tarnished state of form of some starters the team cannot produce the game it would like to. In these situations what must sustain the team is cohesion, unity of purpose, and collective work. In practice, players must interact on the field for the purpose of showing unity and confidence in their team skills even if they are not optimal at that stage. Napoleon was accustomed to say that he also won his battles with the dreams of his soldiers, and this phrase is an effective metaphor for what should be meant by collective effectiveness.

This mentality must be fostered by the behaviors and statements of the coach, who aware of the limitations of the game, must act to arouse the psychological strength of the players as a team. As Al Pacino says so well in the movie “Every Damn Sunday” in the role of the coach of a team in crisis, “So … either we rise up now, as a collective, or we will be annihilated individually.”

My impression is that Allegri and Inzaghi think too much about the schemes, the game and less about making individuals and the team proactive. The motivation to help each other, to get out of difficult situations and to want to move forward together, comes before the game. One cannot hide behind the thought that because players are very well-paid professionals they should always express themselves to the fullest or know how to behave in moments of nervousness or depression. One cannot say as Allegri said in relation to the Champions route that the decisive game would be the home match with Benfica, it means throwing sand in the delicate gears of a team. Or to remain puzzled, as Inzaghi said, after the Udinese game. They seem to have lost awareness of the psychological condition of the team and individuals. It is not the game forms per se that make a team great but how these are played. As with an actor, it is not enough to have learned the part by heart; his success will depend on how he plays his role. Performing implies a strong psychological involvement. This is what coaches need to work on, and perhaps they might even realize that working with a sports psychologist might help them.

How does the coach plan a decisive match?

It is not difficult to give an explanation to the defeat suffered by Inter against Bologna. The performance anxiety generated by having to win at all costs has triggered nervousness that has increased with the passing of time, leading to a negative performance and an unexpected result. The same could have happened to Liverpool against Villareal, but the team behaved exactly the opposite of Inter. It constantly kept the Spanish team under pressure, it was not in a hurry to finish actions and in this way two goals arrived and above all it did not suffer any.

It would be interesting to know how these two matches were prepared from the psychological point of view. Beyond the differences between Inter and Liverpool, what did the two coaches, Inzaghi and Klopp, do and say to ensure that their teams would play as they had decided? How did they stimulate the combativeness of their players along with a thought of the game to be led from start to finish? Pugnacity should certainly not be interpreted in terms of acting without thinking, otherwise it turns into an impulsive game devoid of logic.

I don’t know what Inzaghi may have said and done, but in any case it didn’t work.

Instead, we know some of Klopp’s principles and I believe that even with Villareal he was inspired by these three ideas in preparing the match:

Building memorable experiences - “Playing unforgettable games, being curious and impatient to play the next game to see what will happen, and this is what soccer should be. If you make that attitude your own, you will be 100 percent successful.”

Be Disciplined - “Never give up on your goals, always stay focused. Certainly teaching this to young soccer players is difficult. It’s much more than believing in it, because you can believe in something but also easily lose that belief, that’s why it’s more important to feel strong in difficult moments.”

Being passionate - “You have to use the tactics with your heart. The match must be lived intensely, otherwise it’s boring”.

I believe that in order to win these decisive matches, these three ideas are decisive and can be summarized in these words: clear goals, tactics, heart, curiosity.


What this game says.

  • 5 minutes to shoot a penalty. Final recovery in the 1st half of 10 minutes. ù
  • The goal is a rare event and then suffer it has an effect on the mood of the team.
  • Who marks even if in undeserved way acquires endured more confidence and challenge more the adversary.
  • Soccer is the only team sport where you can play very well compared to the opponent and lose. This does not happen in basketball and volleyball.
  • It is difficult to understand the referee’s decisions: a player on the ground holds another player by the leg preventing him from moving and is not warned.
  • Absolute level of competitiveness between the two teams.
  • The winner is the one who did enough but with continuity and solidity. It is confirmed that in soccer when you waste too many goal occasions, you risk to lose for an episode in favor of the opposing team.

Emotions and thought: The mental game of Napoli-Inter

Matches are often dominated by the emotions experienced by the two teams and the next championship match between Napoli and Inter will certainly be among them. Inter will field its anger generated by the defeat against Milan while Napoli will field its enthusiasm produced by a series of very positive results. The winner will be the one who will be able to better interpret these moods by putting them at the service of the team’s thinking. What are the risks? When anger is not managed, it doesn’t turn into determination, but expresses itself in impulsive actions in which one moves without thinking, like an engine out of revs that expresses its power in an uncontrolled way with the risk of going off the road. Enthusiasm is a feeling that is experienced with pleasure and supports the optimism needed to face these challenges. The risk is to face the game in a superficial way, to show an excessive self-confidence, thus reducing the ability to respond to situations of competitive tension and pressure exerted by the opponent. On Saturday, emotions will be on the field and also on the bench, and they will participate in determining the final result. In order to express their game, teams will have to make use of these states of mind, which will have to be kept under the control of thought, since the latter capacity can integrate in a few tenths of a second the energy generated by emotions and the decision on how to play. So, emotions and thought are the two key words to interpret what will be seen on the pitch.

Inter-Milan wins the team more motivated

Sorry, this entry is only available in Italiano.

Antonio Conte winning mind

Inter won the Scudetto, many say that its manager, Antonio Conte alone is worth 10 points in the standings. Let’s try to describe the characteristics of his winning mentality.

When Antonio Conte states that “only in Italy we are fixed on the play schema. Football evolves, it depends on how you attack, on what kind of pressure you apply”; he talks of the need to have determination.

The successful person, whatever is his/her field of action, shows a fierce determination in two ways:

  • extraordinary flexibility and ability to work
  • deep awareness of what he/she really wants

On the contrary, today we tend to emphasize more the value of talent, thus reducing the relevance of every other aspect.

Talent + Effort = Skill
Talent emphasizes how quickly you learn when you work hard.

Skill + Effort = Success
Success is what happens when the skills are used with effort.

So, to be successful you need skills and commitment at the highest level and the play schema must support this approach.

Why is Ibrahimovic so important?

There is a lot of talk in soccer about the importance of having players with a lot of experience who can lead the team. This is the case of Ibrahimovic in Milan and Vidal in Inter. Having a champion, even not younger, who can be the reference for the team in terms of accountability, presence on the field and leading with the example.

The relevance of this leadership role is also recognized by research. This approach suggests that some team roles are more important to team performance and whoever holds this central role has a greater influence on overall team performance.

This hypothesis was tested by Humphrey, Morgeson, and Mannor [2012] on data from a 29-year period covering 778 Major League Baseball teams. The results show that although high levels of experience and sport-specific skills are highly significant predictors of team performance, the relationships between these dimensions and team performance are significantly more impactful when these characteristics are possessed by players who play a central role.

Those on the team who most frequently encounter the most significant situations to overcome, have the most exposure to the tasks facing the team, and are most central to the team’s workflow fill this strategic role.