It all started so brightly for Inter.
Luciano Spalletti had been acquired from Roma with much fanfare, and had quickly settled in at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. After finishing in seventh spot, the Nerazzurri were free of European responsibilities and could focus all their efforts on trying to finish in at least a top four berth. Of course, they were certainly aiming for higher than just Champions League football. They definitely were hoping to get their hands on their first Scudetto title since 2010 and finally unseat Juventus as Italy’s perennial reigning champions.
Inter also successfully held onto all of their key players, namely Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic. And unlike AC Milan, they didn’t spend frivolously in the transfer market. They had a pretty solid pre-season as well, winning all of their ICC ties and thus turned their attention towards the upcoming league. Roma were the first high-profile team to be swept aside in a resounding 3-1 road win for Inter
Whilst there was a wobble against Bologna, which ended their perfect 100 per cent winning run, Inter still remained in control. Even a scare when Benevento attempted to crawl back from 2-0 down to snatch a goal didn’t ruffle them much. A top of the table clash with Napoli finished scoreless, and they became the first side to prevent the Partenopei from netting in a game that saw both sides share the spoils.
They also got the better of cross-town rivals Milan in a highly entertaining Derby della Madonnina and managed to end their frustrating run in Turin by also drawing with Juventus. But cracks had already begun to appear. For starters, there has long been concern about the team’s over-reliance on Icardi. The Argentinian has repeatedly stepped up and delivered, but even he can have an off day – as was shown during their recent loss to Sassuolo.
Which brings up an interesting point: Inter have now lost two on the trot. Before their shock loss to Udinese, they were unbeaten all season, but the signs of trouble were apparent as they labored to a win against lower tier side Pordenone in the Coppa Italia. Yes, Spalletti opted to rotate for that fixture, but Inter are still a top tier outfit, with ambitions to challenge to be among the premier sides in Italy. Struggling to sneak past the minnows on penalties obviously is not what anyone would have anticipated, and they were absolutely given a rude shock by a visiting Udinese who have found their footing under Massimo Oddo.
Initially, many thought that could be a result of fatigue, and rightfully so. But then they slipped up again, this time to Sassuolo, who have a reputation of causing problems for the top sides – regardless of how badly the Neroverdi have fared at times in their journey through Italy’s top flight.
That was then followed by a loss to Milan in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals, meaning that Inter’s sole chance at silverware is now the Scudetto. Next up for them is a clash with Lazio, and the Biancocelesti have been quite impressive this season. This will be a true test of Inter’s mettle. Two seasons ago, they were top of the league and faced Lazio in their final game of 2015. They lost that game, and struggled to find their way in the second half of the term, ultimately finishing in a disappointing fourth.
Inter currently find themselves in in third, with Roma creeping up on them. Will they be able to arrest their downward slide and avoid a third straight Serie A loss? Another defeat will arguably be more than just points lost, it could prove costly and undo all the hard work they had done for the first half of the term, as they saw what happened to them during the 2015/2016 campaign. As to whether this is a minor blip or a bad case of déjà vu – well that remains to be seen, but certainly a bad result from Saturday’s tie will certainly raise more than a few alarm bells around the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!