December 2nd. That was the last time Inter lost a game when they were humiliated 3-0 by Napoli. Could that have been their turning point? Last season, Juventus were shocked to lose to Sassuolo – a team who had only been promoted to Serie A in 2013. That defeat arguably was the nadir of what had been an awful season for Massimiliano Allegri’s side.
But that same defeat also sparked one of the most remarkable runs none had expected. After October 28th, Juventus went on a 15 game winning streak. That perfect run was halted by Bologna, who hunkered down to frustrate La Vecchia Signora into a 0-0 draw. Nonetheless, it mattered little. Juventus simply picked up from where they left off and put together a ten-game winning run. Yes, an already-relegated Hellas Verona stopped them on the penultimate matchday, but that marked their first defeat in 27 rounds (or a bit over six months of action).
Is December 3rd to be the start of Inter’s renaissance?
The moral of that story is that a loss oftentimes can prove to be just what a team needs to get their affairs in order. For Inter, December 2nd was the last time they suffered defeat. Since then, they have won six straight Serie A games, and that number rises to eight if one includes the Coppa Italia and the Europa League. Sure, their last group stage win was just a mere consolation, but it was exactly the result Inter needed after seeing things go so horribly awry since the start of this term.
In fact, things have been going quite sour for Inter for quite some time. And this season itself started off on the worst possible footing. By December, the club was already on its third coach. That’s something that has become par for the course at clubs like Palermo, who went through a whopping nine, yes nine different coaches last season, and unfortunately Rosanero supporters have come to accept it as part of the season. But for Inter, changing coaches in rapid succession over the course of one campaign is not something they are used to seeing. Yet, the managerial merry-go-round has indeed been in full swing for far longer than just this season alone.
Order and stability: Two elements that have eluded inter for far too long
Since Jose Mourinho’s departure after winning the Treble in 2010, Inter have gone through eight different coaches. That number rises to nine if one wishes to include interim boss Stefano Vecchi, who was appointed temporarily after Frank de Boer’s sacking last year. It’s not surprising then, that the silverware has dried up, with only a Coppa Italia and a Club World Cup being added to their cabinet post-Mourinho. The Champions League, which they conquered in 2010, has now become a pipe dream, as Inter have not been able to finish in the top three for the past few seasons.
So far, winning eight on the trot has brought a temporary sense of order and stability. That being said, Inter appeared to be on the mend last season. They were even leading the league up through the winter break, then suffered a sudden collapse that they never recovered from. And now, ex-Lazio boss Stefano Pioli at the helm, a sense of hopeful calm appears to have permeated throughout the club. Of course, Inter will not be getting too far ahead of themselves – especially with memories of their collapse last term still fresh in their minds.
Is this the start of bigger and better things for Inter?
Next up for Inter will be a tie against Pescara. Considering that the Delfini are rock-bottom of the table, and have yet to win an actual game on the pitch, it’s no surprise that the Nerazzurri are backed at 2/9 to win that fixture. Whilst they were not at their best against another relegation threatened side – Palermo – Inter still got the job done, and are slowly starting to reduce their over-reliance on Mauro Icardi. Icardi, of course, still contributes significantly to the team’s cause, but having others pick up some of the goal-scoring responsibilities certainly will go a long way towards guaranteeing long-standing success.
No one is expecting them to win every game between now and May. What all eyes will be on is when they do slip-up. How will Inter react? Will they be able to pick themselves up and get back on track?
The Nerazzurri will get a chance to truly put themselves to the test and answer some of these questions sooner than later. In the coming weeks, they will take on Lazio in the Coppa Italia, followed by crunch clashes with Juventus and Roma that could ultimately decide how they fare in their quest for European football – and demonstrate whether this recent run really is the start of bigger and better things to come.
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