14 August 2014 21:23
Inter have much to do before next week’s UEFA Europa League play-off against Stjarnan after playing out a dull 0-0 draw at PAOK on Thursday.
The Serie A giants may have been solid defensively throughout the friendly in Greece, but their lack of chances and fluidity in attack will have alarmed coach Walter Mazzarri.
PAOK enjoyed the best chance of a poor game just after the half-hour mark, when Dimitris Salpingidis forced a fine one-handed save from Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic after shooting from an acute angle.
Inter – who missed out on European football last term – play Stjarnan of Iceland over two legs in the Europa League’s play-off round, with a spot in the group stages up for grabs.
Mazzarri selected a strong side from the start, with new signing Nemanja Vidic partnering Andrea Ranocchia at the heart of Inter’s defence, while Mauro Icardi led the line up front.
But despite the impressive team at Inter’s disposal, they never found their rhythm in stifling conditions in Thessaloniki.
Temperatures of 30 degrees made life difficult for players and it was PAOK who made the brighter start, with Handanovic reacting quickly to keep out Stelios Kitsiou’s deflected cross.
Stefanos Athanasiadis was next to go close for the hosts, who were enjoying success down the right, but he could only head over before Salpingidis stung the palms of Handanovic in the 32nd minute.
Hernanes’ tame shot straight at PAOK goalkeeper Panagiotis Glykos was as close as Inter came during a lacklustre first half and new signing Yann M’Vila showed his frustration with a late challenge on Salpingidis that earned him a yellow card four minutes after the break.
Yuto Nagatomo cut inside promisingly on the hour-mark, but he blazed well over for Inter, as the game petered out even further following a string of substitutions.
Inter’s first assignment against Stjarnan sees them hit the road for Wednesday’s first leg.
PAOK are also involved in the Europa League play-offs, and face Zimbru of Moldova.