Moratti: Coutinho can make the difference against AC Milan

Inter president Massimo Moratti is hopeful that his side can see off AC Milan in the upcoming Derby della Madonnina, and believes young attacker Philippe Coutinho could play a key role.

The Nerazzurri twice defeated their city-rivals in the 2011-12 Serie A campaign, and the supremo has set his sights on yet another victory on Sunday.

“It is possible that Cassano could make the difference, but I personally think that Coutinho could decide the game,” Moratti told reporters.

“You can never tell who are the favourites ahead of the derby. Milan won a difficult away match in midweek, but I think we are on the same level.

“I hope that it will be a great game for the fans. Expectations are high and hopefully we will do well on Sunday evening.”

Sunday’s encounter kicks off at 20:45CET.

Coutinho: Inter want victory over AC Milan

Inter youngster Philippe Coutinho is eagerly anticipating Sunday’s Derby della Madonnina versus AC Milan and expects a difficult match.

The Nerazzurri won the last Serie A encounter against their city-rivals 4-2 back in May, and the Brazilian is hopeful of recording another victory at the weekend.

“The derby’s always a difficult game, hopefully we’ll be able to keep up the form we’ve shown in the last few games and get another win,” Coutinho told reporters.

“I don’t know whether I will start against AC Milan. I hope so, but it’s up to the coach to make the final decision.”

The youngster then looked back on his loan spell at Espanyol in the second half of the 2011-12 campaign, and insisted his time in La Liga has made him a better player.

“Going to Spain has definitely benefited me and then coming back and finding a coach like [Andrea] Stramaccioni gives us all confidence.”

The 20-year-old Coutinho has netted three goals in 10 official appearances for Inter this term.

Goal of the Week: Incisive Drogba wins it with first goal for Shanghai Shenhua




Didier Drogba has been crowned the winner of the Goal Show’s Goal of the Week!

The former Chelsea man produced a tidy finish to score his first goal for Shanghai Shenhua in a 5-1 demolition of Hangzhou Greentown – claiming a massive 50.81 per cent of your votes.

In second place with 24.41% was Yakubu who netted for Guangzhou R&F, while former Celtic star Shunsuke Nakamura grabbed third place with 12.06% of the vote.

Philippe Coutinho narrowly missed out on the top three on 11.91%, while Oleg Shatov trailed behind with just 0.81%.

Be sure to tune in next week!

Stay tuned to for your chance to vote in the next Goal of the Week competition for the Goal Show.

Drogba's first goal for Shanghai Shenhua or Coutinho's curler for Inter? Pick your Goal of the Week

Former Barcelona and Inter striker Samuel Eto’o won your vote last time out following his wonderful effort in Anzhi Makachkala’s victory over Honved. But who will win this week?

From the latest edition of the Goal Show, we select five goals and ask you to pick your favourite.


Philippe Coutinho
Hajduk Split vs Inter

The Brazilian showed a touch of class in front of goal with this sublime curling effort in Inter’s 3-0 Europa Leauge victory over Hajduk Split.



Oleg Shatov
Anzhi Makachkala vs Vitesse Arnhem

At number two we have yet another Anzhi goal! Following in Lacina Traore and Eto’o’s footsteps last week, Shatov makes his mark with a great finish against Vitesse Arnhem.


Didier Drogba
Shanghai Shenhua vs Hangzhou

The former Chelsea favourite is off the mark in China! The Ivorian striker showed all of his power to put Shanghai Shenhua ahead, before he doubled his tally as his side demolished Hangzhou Greentown 5-1.


Guangzhou vs Tianjin Teda

At number four we have another Premier League old boy. The former Everton, Portsmouth and Blackburn forward netted his third goal since moving to China, and it’s enough to make our list.


Shunsuke Nakamura
Vegalta vs Yokohama

The former Celtic and Espanyol man completes our list of five with his superb effort against Vegalta Sendai.

Coutinho hopes 'phenomenon' Lucas joins Inter

Philippe Coutinho has revealed that he would love to see Inter target Lucas Moura join him at San Siro, describing his fellow Brazilian as “a phenomenon”.

The Nerazzurri appear to be locked in a bidding war with Manchester United for the Sao Paulo starlet, as Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson admitted on Monday that he is keen to lure the attacking midfielder to Old Trafford.

However, Coutinho is praying that Lucas ends up at Appiano Gentile instead.

“He’s a fantastic player, a phenomenon,” the 20-year-old told Tuttosport. “Should he come, he would help us a lot and I hope he arrives.”

For the time being, though, Coutinho is focusing his attentions towards nailing down a regular place in the Inter side after a successful loan spell at Espanyol.

“I have returned from Catalunya stronger,” the attacker enthused. “Playing so many games in a row was fundamental to my growth because it had been so long since I had done that.

“It is important to have self-confidence and feel the support of your environment, but that only comes from playing game after game.

“It makes you feel better and also makes you feel important.”

Inter went through two coaches while Coutinho was in Spain, with Gian Piero Gasperini getting the sack early on last season before his replacement, Claudio Ranieri, made way for Andrea Stramaccioni in March.

Consequently, this feels like a new beginning for Coutinho, who freely admits that he is enjoying working under the Nerazzurri‘s former Primavera boss.

“He talks a lot and not only to me,” he said of Stramaccioni. “He is a coach who is open to us all and disposed to speaking with his players.

“The work that he is doing is very important because he is clearly conveying what he wants from us. From me, for example, he asks for even more attention in defensive phases of play.”

Coutinho, who already has five Brazil caps to his name, netted the only goal of the game in Inter’s Trofeo TIM victory over Juventus at the weekend.

Coutinho happy with Cassano's arrival at Inter

Philippe Coutinho believes that the arrival of Antonio Cassano at Inter will benefit the Nerazzurri, and does not feel it will limit his chances of getting regular first team football.

The young attacker impressed during pre-season with a number of fine performances and he’s desperate to keep on developing this term.

“I’m relaxed about it all, Cassano has come in and I’m happy about it. He’s a great player and it’s a positive signing,” Coutinho stated at a press conference.

“Personally, I just try to do my job and give everything on the pitch. I hope to keep improving and learning all the time.”

The Brazilian then went on to discuss Samuele Longo’s one-year loan move to Espanyol, the same club where Coutinho plied his trade in the second half of the 2011-12 campaign.

“I told Samuele that he can improve a lot at Espanyol, I was made to feel really welcome and I’m sure they’ll do likewise with him because he’s an excellent footballer,” he added.

Coutinho ready to impress, Robinho not the go-to man & five things we learned from the Trofeo TIM

The annual Trofeo TIM threw up plenty of food for thought again on Saturday night, with Inter’s eighth victory in 12 editions giving them a boost ahead of the new Serie A season in five weeks time. Andrea Stramaccioni’s men beat both Juventus and AC Milan over 45 minutes on the way to a third straight success in Bari, but they, like their two great rivals, will take both positives and negatives from the evening.

With all three sides lacking regular first-team members due to the scheduling of this year’s tournament, it perhaps wasn’t as glamorous an occasion as in previous seasons, but the three coaches will have been no less thankful for the mental yardstick of a chance to pit their wits with familiar rivals.

But what exactly did the coaches, directors, club presidents, players and fans learn about their sides – and about their adversaries – in the three fixtures?


With Zlatan Ibrahimovic no longer a Milan player, it is imperative that those who have spent the last two years in the supporting cast now step up into the lead roles. Antonio Cassano, Alexandre Pato and Robinho are among the players from whom most is expected in that regard, but the former Manchester City star continues to fall short of the mark required, especially in terms of finishing.

Yes, this was just a series of friendly fixtures, but considering the season that Robinho had last term, he really needed to hit the ground running, particularly given Milan’s comparative lack of leaders right now. The Brazilian unfortunately looks no sharper now than he was at key moments in 2011-12, and while there is time for him to get there, his lack of belief in front of goal will relieve the Milan board of none of the pressure they are currently under to prepare the Rossoneri for the forthcoming campaign.

What they could really do with is a Robinho looking primed for another season similar to 2010-11, when he was a true asset for the club. Right now, that’s a long way from the forecast, and it has reached a point where 19-year-old Stephan El Shaarawy looks more likely to carry the load than the Brazilian does.


Across the pitch, the Scudetto holders looked pretty assured, despite the exclusion of their entire Euro 2012 contingent. With the additions of some new faces, it is clear that the Bianconeri have a deeper squad than last term, answering the one main criticism levelled at them last season. And up against the Italian game’s two other big names, they certainly had more than enough to trouble the opposition even without many of their stars.

One area where they didn’t look any better, though, was in attack. Richmond Boakye looked particularly lively in the second game against Milan, but the ex-Sassuolo youngster is a name for two years time, not for now. Elsewhere, it was the same old story, and with their only goal of the evening coming from Mirko Vucinic’s penalty against Milan, there will be questions once more about the ability of Vucinic, Fabio Quagliarella, Alessandro Matri et al to lead Antonio Conte’s side to glory.

So, with many a name being linked to the champions’ forward line, at least one of them has to come in if Juve are to match their prowess and drive at the back and in midfield with a decent conversion rate in front of goal.


When Philippe Coutinho signed for Inter in 2010, the politics going on behind the scenes in Corso Vittorio Emanuele II meant that a greater spotlight was put on the Brazilian youngster than originally intended. With president Massimo Moratti spurning coach Rafael Benitez’s push for the purchases of Javier Mascherano and Dirk Kuyt from Liverpool, the Nerazzurri were sent into the new campaign with Coutinho, Jonathan Biabiany and Luca Castellazzi as their only additions to the first-team squad.

Add in a string of injuries to starters, and Coutinho ended up seeing more Serie A action than he was perhaps ready for. He failed to adapt quickly, and in 2011-12 he was sent out on loan to Espanyol, with the results seemingly being more like what Inter were after.

Two years on from his transfer from Vasco da Gama, he now appears more mature and prepared for regular first-team football at the top level, with his performances in Bari showing that he now has an added dimension to his play that wasn’t so evident under Benitez and Leonardo. With or without Wesley Sneijder in 2012-13, Inter will be looking to Coutinho to take up a fair amount of attacking responsibility, and the early signs so far are certainly positive.


It was only a friendly tournament, but why oh why was the pitch at the San Nicola in such a horrible state? There is simply no excuse for it.

This writer was the subject of many Barcelona fans’ ire in March when calling out the Blaugrana for their whingeing over the state of the San Siro turf after their Champions League clash with Milan, but whereas the long-running battle with the elements at the Scala del Calcio have made for difficulties over a long period, there was no reason why the administration at Bari could not have prepared a lush playing turf ahead of Saturday’s festivities.

Fans who rarely get to see some of their heroes play in the south of the country deserve better than to watch them struggle to keep the ball under control on a bobbly surface – one which has not seen football for two months – and one of the biggest problems with Italian football at the moment is the lack of foresight over simple things like making a pitch playable for top-level calcio.

It is time the FIGC came up with strict measures over the standard of playing surfaces amongst other infrastructural demands, and heavy fines should be handed out to clubs who do not meet the requirements. While for the most part these clubs themselves do not own the stadiums, it is no longer good enough for everyone to sit back and pass the buck. Responsibility needs to be grasped over such issues, and soon. If they can come to a decision on a new surface at San Siro, then they can do so elsewhere too.


Perversely, a trio of 45-minute fixtures has actually become one of the more attractive events in the pre-season calendar of Italian football’s big three clubs, but you would have been forgiven for not realising it watching Saturday’s fare. With a full five weeks still to go before Serie A kicks off once more, and the much-anticipated league fixture schedule still to be drawn, there remains a training ground feel about most games at this early stage.

The 2012 edition was played earlier than any version since 2005 in Trieste, and it showed. Whereas over the past few pre-seasons the tournament has been a final tune-up of the first team against similar opposition, and a chance for each coach to see what progress their sides have really made, this year it provided nothing of the sort. Youngsters and squad players were used to a much greater extent than recent times, particularly by Milan, and the huge crowd at the San Nicola will have left a little less satisfied than they were walking away from the Trofeo festivities last August. Beyond the muscular injury picked up by Simone Pepe, there was also a very lethargic feel to events for the most part as players gradually ease their way into pre-season.

While Inter’s participation in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League forced the authorities’ hands somewhat this time around, there are still plenty of August weekends that could have been used for the event. Wherever possible, such opportunities should be taken up for what is a popular occasion amongst those who continue to roll up to watch the big three play in Puglia year after year.

Coutinho dedicates Trofeo TIM victory to Inter boss Stramaccioni

Inter youngster Philippe Coutinho has dedicated his side’s Trofeo TIM victory to boss Andrea Stramaccioni, and is optimistic about his future at the club despite taking his time to settle at San Siro.

The Nerazzurri triumphed in the traditional pre-season tournament by defeating both Juventus and AC Milan in Bari.

The Brazilian, who had a spell on loan at Espanyol last season, had a great impact on the event, scoring the winning goal against the Bianconeri and claiming the player of the tournament gong.

“I’m doing well and, thanks to the confidence of Stramaccioni, things are going better,” he told reporters after the match.

“We were set up well on the pitch, I was on the left and I was ready when the Juventus defence got a little careless.”

And Coutinho voiced his hope that compatriot Lucas Moura would soon be joining him at San Siro from Sao Paulo.

“I hope that he arrives. He is a champion, but it’s not up to me to decide these things,” he said. “The club make the decisions in the market.”

Since making his full international debut in 2010, Coutinho has won five caps for the Selecaoand was part of the team that won the Under-20 World Cup in 2011.

Milito: Coutinho is a bit special

Diego Milito believes Philippe Coutinho has what it takes to succeed at Inter, despite being linked with a move away from the club.

The 20-year-old joined the Giuseppe Meazza side from Vasco da Gama in July 2010, but initially struggled to make an impact in Serie A.

However, expectations have been piqued again after Coutinho impressed on loan at Espanyol in the second half of last season.

“Coutinho? He’s a fantastic player. We all knew he was a bit special,” Milito was quoted as saying on the official Inter website.

“The time in Spain has done him good and he’ll help us a lot this year. He’s different to other players.”

Coutinho scored in Inter’s 2-0 friendly win over Koper at the weekend.

Who do you think should be International’s World Player of the Week this week? Leave your nomination in the comments section of THIS article between 10:00 every Sunday and 11:00CET every Monday. We will include some of the best suggestions in our winners piece.

Coutinho determined to succeed at Inter

Philippe Coutinho is confident that his loan spell at Espanyol has made him a better player and is now setting his sights on proving his worth at Inter next season.

The Brazilian was farmed out on loan to the Liga side for the second half of the campaign after struggling to secure regular first-team action at the Giuseppe Meazza, and the attacking midfielder is keen to begin working under new coach Andrea Stramaccioni.

“I am a new Coutinho after my spell at Espanyol. I got a bit depressed at Inter because I did not get much playing time,” Coutinho told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“That won’t happen again, though. Getting regular first-team action was vital for me.

“I really like Stramaccioni’s football philosophy. He’s always ready to talk with his players, and I hope to develop under his guidance.

“He gives you a lot of freedom in attack, although you obviously have to help out in defence as well.

“I have to think about myself now and do my utmost to secure a spot in the first team. I want to succeed here.”

The 19-year-old joined Inter from Vasco da Gama in the summer of 2010 for a reported fee of €4 million.