Claudio Ranieri’s Inter Milan are struggling.
Claudio Ranieri’s Inter Milan are struggling.

Insecurities for Inter Milan seem to be infectious

There is not a lot of resemblance in the outward characters of Jose Mourinho and Claudio Ranieri, as Mourinho used to like to point out.

The Portuguese would disdain the older man's shortcomings in the trophy cabinet when they compared to his own set of medals.

Sneering like this made Ranieri seem the more dignified, and certainly the more charming of the two through their years of rivalry, first when Mourinho succeeded Ranieri at Chelsea, and then when Mourinho's Inter Milan jousted with Juventus and Roma while the Italian was in charge of those two clubs.

But as Ranieri's stint in charge of Inter spurts and stutters into its third month, something of the old Mourinho posture can be detected in Ranieri's dark looks and angry words into microphones.

"A penalty awarded against us?" he spat after Wednesday night's 1-1 draw at Atalanta, who were denied a victory when Luca Castellazzi saved a German Denis spot-kick. "Pah, we're used to that by now."

Inter have indeed suffered an alarming number of penalties awarded against them - five already - this season.

And, although Ranieri and Massimo Moratti, the Inter president, have mostly tried to be more careful about nourishing conspiracy theories than the studiously suspicious, even paranoid figure, that Mourinho used to be, Sunday's meeting with top-of-the-table Juventus is already coloured by Inter's insecurities about official decisions going against them.The derby d'Italia, as Inter versus Juve is known, has been heavily cloaked by this theme for the past four years, ever since the clubs were reacquainted with one another after the year's gap when Juventus served their punishment - demotion to Serie B - for their directors' involvement in unfairly influencing referees.

The Calciopoli scandal left the Turin team embittered. They feel angry that Inter were later awarded the 2006 scudetto, taken away from Juve, who had finished top of the table that May.

Four days after Saturday night's collision at San Siro, the Italian Court for Sports Arbitration will hear Juve's arguments that Inter should be stripped of the 2006 title, alleging that they too were implicated in the systematic manipulation of match officials.

Mourinho, who won the 2009 and 2010 Serie A titles with Inter, used to refer to some unseen force that penalised his team with rough refereeing.

He famously made a touchline gesture with his arms, as if his wrists were handcuffed together, on an evening when two Inter players were sent off in a goalless draw with Sampdoria, the implication that Inter were prisoners of untrustworthy officialdom.

Moratti, prone to the odd hot-tempered outburst on the subject, was trying to sound circumspect when he said after the Atalanta trip: "The number of penalties against us is frustrating, but it's just a coincidence."

Not so according to Ernesto Paolillo, the club's managing director: "It's become the norm to have penalties given against us." And red and yellow cards. Inter have collected 18 cautions and two dismissals in their eight Serie A matches so far.

This goes beyond conspiracy theorising. Inter are on edge; Christian Chivu, the Romanian defender, is becoming a hot-spot for rashness and risk in defence.

Ranieri's job, as the "fixer" who came in after the campaign had begun badly, is not to construct a new team but to raise morale, develop the best strategy for his mix of been-around-the-block former Champions League winners and the younger players that have the talent to genuinely refresh Inter.

Four seasons ago, he achieved something like that with Juventus, whom he guided back into the top four the first season after their return to Serie A. Ranieri must smile wryly at seeing Juve now at the very summit. But if they guarantee staying there with a win on Saturday night, it means his Inter could drop into the relegation zone by the end of Sunday.


Messi has backing

All eyes will be on Lionel Messi when Barcelona look to get back to their best at home to Real Mallorca on Saturday.

The Argentine has been below par recently as Barca have failed to perform to their usual high standards. They face a mid-table Mallorca looking for a repeat of the 1-1 draw they managed in Catalunya last season.

Pep Guardiola may include Cesc Fabregas in the side alongside Messi, and the midfielder ridiculed criticism of the forward's recent showing.

“He scores goals every game, makes them, always plays. He’s a fabulous player, physically and mentally,” said Fabregas. “If there are doubts about Messi, I don’t know how they see the rest of us.”

Mallorca have not won in four games and suffered a home defeat against Sporting Gijon in midweek. Real Sociedad face Real Madrid on Saturday night.


Dortmund plan well

Jurgen Klopp insists his Borussia Dortmund side will not become a victim of their own success as they prepare for their fifth game in the space of 16 days against Stuttgart on Saturday.

The Bundesliga champions are playing a game every three days, but Klopp says his only concern is ensuring he has 11 fit men on the field.

He said on the club’s website: “We are planning things in a way that the lads don’t think on Saturday ‘not more football’.”

His preparations have been aided by two comfortable victories in the past week.

“It is a lot easier to prepare for the next game when you won the last one,” he said. “We want to extend our winning streak, but we know it is going to be hard work.”

Dortmund have won their last four league matches and are second in the table. However, Stuttgart are also in good form and lie just two points behind Dortmund in fifth.


Bordeaux like Arsenal

Francis Gillot, the Bordeaux manager, has compared the club's fall from grace in the French league to Arsenal's demise in the English Premier League.

Gillot’s team, who won the title three years ago, currently lie third from bottom of Ligue 1 after winning just once in 11 league matches this season.

They face a relegation-zone battle with bottom side Ajaccio on Saturday, and Gillot has called for the fans to be patient and to retain perspective.

“It can happen to all teams, even Arsenal,” Gillot told the club’s official website. “I ask for patience. The championship started only two months ago.

“I am not a magician. Coaches need to work and have time to make things right ... It has been two years since the club plummeted. I cannot do in two months what should be done in one year.”


Altidore ‘rested’

Gertjan Verbeek, the AZ Alkmaar coach, has denied there is an issue with striker Jozy Altidore.

The Eridivise leaders are four points clear of PSV Eindhoven and Twente, and Altidore, the US international, has been a hit this season, scoring seven goals in all competitions. However, the striker was on the substitutes’ bench for the Europa League match against Austria Vienna in midweek.

AZ travel to Heracles on Sunday aiming to extend their lead at the top of the table, and Verbeek said resting players is the key to his team’s success.

“It really is not that we have put Jozy in a forgotten corner,” he said. “In this way we try to get Jozy to function the best he can. It seems it is still uncommon in the Netherlands to rest players. That happens with Ragnar Klavan, who plays fantastic and yet I sometimes say to him: ‘You won’t play the next game’. In my view it is one of the reasons we are top.”


Celtic deal with injury

Goalkeeper Fraser Forster has accepted the fact that the only constant in the Celtic defence this season has been change.

Injuries and loss of form have forced manager Neil Lennon to tinker with his back four on an almost game-by-game basis.

Charlie Mulgrew, the stand-in captain, has recovered from an ankle knock, so there could be changes again on Saturday for the visit of Hibernian.

Forster, in his second spell on loan from Newcastle, admits it is not an ideal situation but knows there is little that can be done.
"Ideally you would want to try to keep the same back four as much as you can," he said.

“But we have had a lot of injuries this season and the back four has changed so much, but whoever has come in to play has done a terrific job.

“Thomas Rogne came in on Wednesday night [in the Scottish Communities League Cup quarter-final win over Hibs] and was absolutely superb.

“We didn’t have the injuries last season, but things change in football and you have to get on with it and do your best.”

League leaders Rangers travel to face Aberdeen on Saturday hoping to extend their lead over second-placed Motherwell, who are away to Inverness, at the top to 12 points.

Tips for job-seekers
  • Do not submit your application through the Easy Apply button on LinkedIn. Employers receive between 600 and 800 replies for each job advert on the platform. If you are the right fit for a job, connect to a relevant person in the company on LinkedIn and send them a direct message.
  • Make sure you are an exact fit for the job advertised. If you are an HR manager with five years’ experience in retail and the job requires a similar candidate with five years’ experience in consumer, you should apply. But if you have no experience in HR, do not apply for the job.

David Mackenzie, founder of recruitment agency Mackenzie Jones Middle East

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

World Cricket League Division 2

In Windhoek, Namibia - Top two teams qualify for the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe, which starts on March 4.

UAE fixtures

Thursday February 8, v Kenya; Friday February 9, v Canada; Sunday February 11, v Nepal; Monday February 12, v Oman; Wednesday February 14, v Namibia; Thursday February 15, final


Display: 6.1" Super Retina XDR OLED, 2532 x 1170, 460ppi, HDR, True Tone, P3, 1200 nits

Processor: A15 Bionic, 6-core CPU, 5-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine 

Memory: 6GB

Capacity: 128/256/512GB

Platform: iOS 16

Main camera: Dual 12MP main (f/1.5) + 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.4); 2x optical, 5x digital; Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting

Main camera video: 4K @ 24/25/3060fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD @ 30fps; HD slo-mo @ 120/240fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Front camera: 12MP TrueDepth (f/1.9), Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4; Animoji, Memoji; Portrait Lighting

Front camera video: 4K @ 24/25/3060fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD slo-mo @ 120fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Battery: 3279 mAh, up to 20h video, 16h streaming video, 80h audio; fast charge to 50% in 30m; MagSafe, Qi wireless charging

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Apple Pay)

Biometrics: Face ID

I/O: Lightning

Cards: Dual eSIM / eSIM + SIM (US models use eSIMs only)

Colours: Blue, midnight, purple, starlight, Product Red

In the box: iPhone 14, USB-C-to-Lightning cable, one Apple sticker

Price: Dh3,399 / Dh3,799 / Dh4,649

Five healthy carbs and how to eat them

Brown rice: consume an amount that fits in the palm of your hand

Non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli: consume raw or at low temperatures, and don’t reheat  

Oatmeal: look out for pure whole oat grains or kernels, which are locally grown and packaged; avoid those that have travelled from afar

Fruit: a medium bowl a day and no more, and never fruit juices

Lentils and lentil pasta: soak these well and cook them at a low temperature; refrain from eating highly processed pasta variants

Courtesy Roma Megchiani, functional nutritionist at Dubai’s 77 Veggie Boutique

Diriyah project at a glance

- Diriyah’s 1.9km King Salman Boulevard, a Parisian Champs-Elysees-inspired avenue, is scheduled for completion in 2028
- The Royal Diriyah Opera House is expected to be completed in four years
- Diriyah’s first of 42 hotels, the Bab Samhan hotel, will open in the first quarter of 2024
- On completion in 2030, the Diriyah project is forecast to accommodate more than 100,000 people
- The $63.2 billion Diriyah project will contribute $7.2 billion to the kingdom’s GDP
- It will create more than 178,000 jobs and aims to attract more than 50 million visits a year
- About 2,000 people work for the Diriyah Company, with more than 86 per cent being Saudi citizens

Mane points for safe home colouring
  • Natural and grey hair takes colour differently than chemically treated hair
  • Taking hair from a dark to a light colour should involve a slow transition through warmer stages of colour
  • When choosing a colour (especially a lighter tone), allow for a natural lift of warmth
  • Most modern hair colours are technique-based, in that they require a confident hand and taught skills
  • If you decide to be brave and go for it, seek professional advice and use a semi-permanent colour

Jeff Buckley: From Hallelujah To The Last Goodbye
By Dave Lory with Jim Irvin

The specs: 2018 Audi RS5

Price, base: Dh359,200

Engine: 2.9L twin-turbo V6

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Power: 450hp at 5,700rpm

Torque: 600Nm at 1,900rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 8.7L / 100km

Tax authority targets shisha levy evasion

The Federal Tax Authority will track shisha imports with electronic markers to protect customers and ensure levies have been paid.

Khalid Ali Al Bustani, director of the tax authority, on Sunday said the move is to "prevent tax evasion and support the authority’s tax collection efforts".

The scheme’s first phase, which came into effect on 1st January, 2019, covers all types of imported and domestically produced and distributed cigarettes. As of May 1, importing any type of cigarettes without the digital marks will be prohibited.

He said the latest phase will see imported and locally produced shisha tobacco tracked by the final quarter of this year.

"The FTA also maintains ongoing communication with concerned companies, to help them adapt their systems to meet our requirements and coordinate between all parties involved," he said.

As with cigarettes, shisha was hit with a 100 per cent tax in October 2017, though manufacturers and cafes absorbed some of the costs to prevent prices doubling.

If you go...

Fly from Dubai or Abu Dhabi to Chiang Mai in Thailand, via Bangkok, before taking a five-hour bus ride across the Laos border to Huay Xai. The land border crossing at Huay Xai is a well-trodden route, meaning entry is swift, though travellers should be aware of visa requirements for both countries.

Flights from Dubai start at Dh4,000 return with Emirates, while Etihad flights from Abu Dhabi start at Dh2,000. Local buses can be booked in Chiang Mai from around Dh50


Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid

When: April 25, 10.45pm kick-off (UAE)
Where: Allianz Arena, Munich
Live: BeIN Sports HD
Second leg: May 1, Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid

The Written World: How Literature Shaped History
Martin Puchner

Sweet Tooth

Creator: Jim Mickle
Starring: Christian Convery, Nonso Anozie, Adeel Akhtar, Stefania LaVie Owen
Rating: 2.5/5

Engine: 80 kWh four-wheel-drive

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Power: 402bhp

Torque: 760Nm

Price: From Dh280,000

The National in Davos

We are bringing you the inside story from the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos, a gathering of hundreds of world leaders, top executives and billionaires.


Company name: Switch Foods
Started: 2022
Founder: Edward Hamod
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Plant-based meat production
Number of employees: 34
Funding: $6.5 million
Funding round: Seed
Investors: Based in US and across Middle East


Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside


England 353 and 313-8 dec
(B Stokes 112, A Cook 88; M Morkel 3-70, K Rabada 3-85)
(J Bairstow 63, T Westley 59, J Root 50; K Maharaj 3-50)
South Africa 175 and 252
(T Bavuma 52; T Roland-Jones 5-57, J Anderson 3-25)
(D Elgar 136; M Ali 4-45, T Roland-Jones 3-72)

Result: England won by 239 runs
England lead four-match series 2-1


Director: Andrew Dominik
Stars: Ana de Armas, Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale
Rating: 3/5

Rafael Nadal's record at the MWTC

2009 Finalist

2010 Champion

Jan 2011 Champion

Dec 2011 Semi-finalist

Dec 2012 Did not play

Dec 2013 Semi-finalist

2015 Semi-finalist

Jan 2016 Champion

Dec 2016 Champion

2017 Did not play


The team

Photographer: Mateusz Stefanowski at Art Factory
Videographer: Jear Valasquez
Fashion director: Sarah Maisey
Make-up: Gulum Erzincan at Art Factory
Model: Randa at Art Factory Videographer’s assistant: Zanong Magat
Photographer’s assistant: Sophia Shlykova
With thanks to Jubail Mangrove Park, Jubail Island, Abu Dhabi

Our legal columnist

Name: Yousef Al Bahar

Advocate at Al Bahar & Associate Advocates and Legal Consultants, established in 1994

Education: Mr Al Bahar was born in 1979 and graduated in 2008 from the Judicial Institute. He took after his father, who was one of the first Emirati lawyers


July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Director: James Wan

Starring: Jason Mamoa, Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II 

Rating: 2/5

Jurassic Park

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Richard Attenborough
Rating: 5/5

Fifa Club World Cup:

When: December 6-16
Where: Games to take place at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi and Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain
Defending champions: Real Madrid


Display: Main – 6.7" FHD Dynamic Amoled 2X, 2640 x 1080, 22:9, 425ppi, HDR10+, up to 120Hz; cover – 1.9" Super Amoled, 512 x 260, 302ppi

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, 4nm, octa-core; Adreno 730 GPU

Memory: 8GB

Capacity: 128/256/512GB

Platform: Android 12, One UI 4.1.1

Main camera: Dual 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 12MP wide (f/1.8), OIS, portrait, super slo-mo, hyperlapse

Video: 4K@30/60fps, full-HD@30/60fps, HD@30fps; slo-mo@240/960fps; HDR10+

Front camera: 10MP (f/2.4)

Battery: 3700mAh, 25W fast charging, 15W wireless charging, reverse wireless charging, 'all-day' life

Connectivity: 5G; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC (Samsung Pay)


Cards: Nano-SIM + eSIM; no microSD slot

Colours: Bora purple, graphite, pink gold, blue; Bespoke Edition in select countries

In the box: Flip 4, USB-C-to-USB-C cable

Price: Dh3,799 / Dh3,999 / Dh4,449


The Dubai Metaverse Assembly will host three main tracks:

Educate: Consists of more than 10 in-depth sessions on the metaverse

Inspire: Will showcase use cases of the metaverse in tourism, logistics, retail, education and health care

Contribute: Workshops for metaverse foresight and use-case reviews


Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded


Keep up with all the Middle East and North Africa athletes at the 2024 Paris Olympics

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy