Patience is key
Inter Milan was always a curious team and case. From a team that won the champions league a decade ago in convincing fashion to a team that hasn’t had success for years. It was quite a decline for them but this season proved to be a season which they would enter with optimism. They wanted to build upon last years success which meant that the offseason was the first and most important step in that process. There were obvious weaknesses in the team that needed to be addressed and they did so very well.
Luciano Spaletti remained the coach even though there was some speculation that he might be replaced which didn’t make any sense. He led them to their first Champions League appearance in the last six years. They didn’t enter the season believing they could replace Juventus at the top but they felt strong enough to challenge Napoli for the second place.
They brought in a lot of quality players, seven to be precise. Most of them saw significant playing time this season. Two of them arrived on free transfers: Stefan de Vrij and Kwadwo Asamoah to bolster their defence. They would prove the most crucial of additions as Inter defence saw the most improvement from last season. They bought Radja Nainggolan from Roma which was one of the best players at his positions for many years and they added onto their deadly attack with players like Mateo Politano and Lautaro Martinez. One should also not forget Šime Vrsaljko from Atletico Madrid who a month prior to that placed 2nd with Croatia in the World Cup. All of these players are high-quality players so it seemed that Inter might overtake Napoli as the second strongest team in Italy especially since there were no significant departures.
Despite having a pretty good preseason they opened their season poorly and only managed to win a match in the 3rd round. They failed to build on it as they lost the next match played. Only after that loss did Spaletti seemingly find the right team as they had a six-game winning streak. Sadly as all good things come to an end Inter played a few rounds of very poor football again losing a few matches only to consolidate themselves again and win the last 3 of 4 played before the Winter break. So after the first 19 matches, they currently sit at the 3rd position five points behind Napoli in the standings. They won 12 matches, drew 3 and lost 4. They scored 31 goals which equate to 1,63 goals per match and conceded 14 which equates to 0,73 per match. This statistical overview proves the fact that the most improved part of Inter’s team has been the defence because objectively the players that reinforced that part of their squad have the most quality of all additions.
It has to be said that Inter Milan played well for stretches of the season yet when they had difficulty they couldn’t overcome them. It isn’t something new especially for Spaletti’s team as we have seen this trend during his Roma tenure but if Inter wants to beat out Napoli for the 2nd place they will have to play more consistent football. Inter’s play so far this season has been closely linked to the failures of their midfield. Their midfield really didn’t play all that good despite having a lot of quality players in the likes of Radja Nainggolan who admittedly didn’t play up his standard and Joao Mario. It had a profound effect on Mauro Icardi who as this teams leader only tallied 9 goals in 16 appearances.
That is by no means bad but the Argentinian spoiled us with his brilliant performances ever since his Sampdoria days. Besides him, the only goalscoring came from the likes of Keita Balde with 4 goals, Lautaro Martinez and Ivan Perišić with 3 goals. If Inter truly wants to succeed Napoli as Italy’s 2nd best team they need improvement from their midfield and attackers in the second part of the season. Like I mentioned before their defence has been quite good with both Skriniar and de Vrij playing at a World Class levels so much so that only Giorgio Chiellini might be considered the better defender on the boot this season. Most of their matches finished with only scoring one goal so it’s evident their attack needs a boost despite having good enough players.
There have been some rumours circulating these past few weeks about some additions but most of the potential players are midfielders which is a good thing for the fans since they team really lack a quality midfielder. It’s always hard to find good players in the Winter market but if Inter succeeds in doing so they could easily challenge Napoli for the title of Italy’s second-best team. It will also come down to coaching where Napoli have the upper hand since Carlo Ancelotti is a far better coach than Luciano Spaletti. Nonetheless, the second part of the season promises to be a very interesting one especially for Inter fans who have a lot of looking forward too. It seems the suns going to shine brightly in the blue side of Milan this year.