“Club: promises maintained, requests all respected. Boss and players: no excuses, no words… head down and win!” Those were the words of Inter’s fanatical Curva Nord support, who clearly believe that their beloved team is sufficiently well-equipped to mount a serious challenge to Juventus’ dominance of Serie A. Given how hard sporting director Piero Ausilio worked to add depth and quality to Luciano Spalletti’s squad, it is very hard to argue with their point of view.
In all fairness, the Nerazzurri played an almost perfect 45 minutes of football during the first half of their match against Torino last night. Spalletti’s decision to switch from his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation to 3-4-2-1 was vindicated and then some. New signings Kwadwo Asamoah and Matteo Politano were imperious, while Stefan de Vrij opened his account for the season with a superb header.
A 2-0 half-time lead was the very least that they deserved for their efforts. They may well have gone into the break with a greater advantage had they been more clinical in the final third. Inexplicably, the referee’s whistle to begin the second half represented something far more sinister as far as Inter were concerned. To say they started slowly would be a massive understatement; the truth of the matter is that they were an almost unrecognisable outfit.
Spalletti’s decision to revert back to a 4-2-3-1 system made little to no sense, especially given how dominant his side had been up until that point. As has been the story on so many occasions over the course of the past five or six years, Inter suffered the worst possible consequences of what can only be described as a complete blackout. The entire team – not one player deserves to be absolved – seemingly forgot how to do the basics in the mere blinking of an eye.
Yes, La Beneamata did come back into the game and threaten to score a late winner but, by then, it was far too late. The damage had been done and Toro had been afforded a way back into a match which ought to have been put beyond them long beforehand. Of course, Samir Handanović deserves criticism for his blatant error that allowed Andrea Belotti to score an open goal, but to single him out for his teammates inability to close the game out is grossly unfair.
If last night’s disaster was billed as another opportunity to kick start their campaign, then next Saturday evening’s trip to face Bologna at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara is most definitely a must win. Fail to do so and they will be effectively out of the Scudetto race before it has even started. That would be criminal, especially when you consider the wave of optimism that surrounded the club throughout pre-season. Like it or not, the pressure is now on Spalletti to pick his players up and be the catalyst to help them overcome the obvious psychological issues which they, as a team, continue to struggle with.
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