During an interview with DAZN ahead of yesterday afternoon’s match against Atalanta, Inter CEO Alessandro Antonello warned Luciano Spalletti’s players of the potential danger that comes with facing Gian Piero Gasperini’s men: “We need to stay alert, Bergamo is traditionally a very difficult place to visit and it’s never easy to get a result here. We’re counting on our players’ focus to continue on this positive run in the league following the big match against Barcelona in the Champions League.”
What followed, in actual fact, was the exact opposite. The Nerazzurri were a mere shadow of the side they have been over the course of the past couple of months. Indeed, they were extremely lucky to reach the half-time interval with just a 1-0 deficit. La Dea completely and utterly outplayed them throughout the first half and, in all fairness, deserved to be three or four goals to the good – such was their dominance. It was a travesty that Inter equalised through an excellent penalty kick by Mauro Icardi as the goal came totally against the run of play. Moreover, come the 95th minute, Alejandro Gómez and his teammates would have been well within their rights to feel underwhelmed by their final margin of victory.
For many Beneamata fans, alarm bells were ringing the second they saw that the aforementioned Spalletti had opted to deviate from his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation to a flatter 4-3-3- shape, which saw Roberto Gagliardini and Matías Vecino deployed either side of Marcelo Brozović, who was somewhat harshly shown a red card as the match entered its closing stages. For much of the game, it looked like not one of them had ever controlled a football before. Harsh, but their respective performances really were that bad. All over the pitch, Inter were insipid and hardly posed any threat whatsoever to their opposition’s back three.
While stopping short of accusing his players of approaching the match with the wrong attitude, Spalletti was visibly frustrated that Inter failed to capitalise on the opportunity to win their eighth consecutive game in Serie A. Questioned on whether his side had been complacent, he replied: “The argument can be made that, when you come from too many victories, you get used to it and you think you are entitled to something. However, you do not have the right to have any advantage and you have to find the strength to start from scratch every time.”
One thing is for sure: the Nerazzurri must show the right reaction when they host Frosinone at San Siro once domestic action resumes upon the conclusion of the international break. Should they fail to do so, their recent positive run of form will quickly be forgotten and the knives will be out for Spalletti and certain members of his squad. Supporters forgive and forget much easier when their team is being taught a football lesson by Barcelona and the likes, but not by a side which has spent much of the season’s opening 12 matchdays languishing below the European qualification spots.
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