Maicon was one of the best players on a hard working and victorious Inter side in the beginning of the week, beating Milan 1-0, as Claudio Ranieri continued to work his mid-season magic. It continued on Thursday, as Inter beat Genoa 2-1 in the Coppa Italia, with Maicon scoring one of the best goals of the season in Italy.

Something happened to Maicon last season, or probably even a bit earlier. From a rampaging right back, probably the best in the world, he simply softened. Too many errors defensively and not quite the same effect on offense as he did before. Maybe it was the post-Mourinho phase that Inter are still somewhat going through, or maybe it was just Gareth Bale shaking things up.

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In 2011-2012, things look much better. Inter had a ghastly start, but those early days seem long gone. There’s no brilliant football from the nerazzurri, but there never was. It’s not the kind of club to capture fans’ imaginations with scintillating performances.

Since the defense has been steadied, meaning Julio Cesar’s form is moving back to where it was in the old days, Maicon has looked much better. A confident and creative wing back, who strides forward like a demolishing tank. From time to time, he even gets shots like this one to workout.