Inter lose pace on rivals Milan as Roma and Juventus come charging for Antonio Conte’s team

After having a fantastic record in the league Inter gained just 1 point this past week as they played two games. First it would be defeat at Sampdoria going down 2-1 to record only their 2nd defeat of the season and then they would draw 2-2 with Roma in a very entertaining game.

The defeat at Sampdoria really hurt the club because Milan finally lost a game, their first of the season and this was the time to catch them up. Milan lost 3-1 at home to Juventus.

The Sampdoria game looked like it wasn’t going to be Inter’s when Alexis Sanchez missed a 12th minute penalty, the omens were in the air and this just wasn’t going to be Inter’s night. Sampdoria took a 2-0 lead into half time and despite Stefan de Vrij pulling a goal back for Antonio Conte’s team they would go on to lose the game.

Normally Romelu Lukaku would have taken Sanchez’s place but he was back and recovering from a minor injury and had to start the match from the bench as a precaution. Inter had 11 shots on target and were far the better team but they couldn’t find that 2nd goal to get back into the game.

This past week hasn’t been easy for Inter whose 2 recent games have both been away from home and whilst they were expected to beat Sampdoria many thought they could struggle at the Stadio Olimpico against Roma and that so proved to be true.

In the end the final result did seem fair though with Roma starting well but as the game went on Inter creating the better chances. Inter found themselves 1-0 down early on when Lorenzo Pellegrini took a shot from outside the area after great build up play by Roma. The half ended 1-0 to the home side.

Inter though were piling on the pressure in the 2nd half and hit back with two goals in short time. The first was a brilliant powerful header from Milan Skriniar, the defender has been in great form lately.

It would be another defender who would help Inter out and put them in the lead a few minutes later with a brilliant strike by Achraf Hakimi. Inter looked like they would go on to win the game and there was just four minutes remaining when Roma broke their hearts.

Gianluca Mancini scored a great flick on header almost a classic style in the vein of the great Paolo Rossi to secure a point from Roma.

As a result the league is looking exciting however Milan has taken a 3 point lead from Inter and they have 40 points. Roma have 37 and have several teams hot on their trail in the form of Roma, Juventus and even Atalanta aren’t that far behind with 31 points.

Next weekend is the big one for Inter as they will face the champions of the last 9 seasons Juventus at home. Lose that and they could slip six points behind if Milan beat Cagliari.

What this week has proven is that despite the obvious talents of this Inter team where there are goals in all positions, they really miss a 100% Romelu Lukaku, he is the player they rely on and the heart beat of this team.

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Inter move to 2nd in Serie A but Champions League dreams hanging by a thread

Forget Juventus, well forget them for now anyway because all of a sudden it feels like a decade ago, before Cristiano Ronaldo flexed his brilliance in Turin, before the run of 9 titles in a row, Milan and Inter are 1st and 2nd in Serie A and both clubs will want to be more than just pacesetters.

The Old Lady aren’t far behind of course just 1 point separates them from Inter but for Antonio Conte’s team the weekend result was a good one, a 3-0 victory away to Sassuolo.

Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring in just the 4th minute and it is funny what confidence can do for a player. It has been no secret that Sanchez has been struggling for a few seasons now, but it was nice to see the Chilean international score last weekend and he scored again. Lautaro Martinez’s initial effort was stopped by the goalkeeper but the ball came back to the striker and instead of going for goal again used his maturity to square the ball to the waiting Sanchez who had an easy chance.

Ten minutes later it seemed that the game was slipping from the home side’s grasp even before it had really begun when a dangerous cross was pinballed into the five yard area and Vlad Chiriches scored an own goal which was unfortunate for him.

Even though it was 2-0 to Inter early on Sassuolo did not to their credit lie down and had a few good chances themselves, indeed each club recorded 3 shots on target in the first 45 minutes and Sassuolo dominated possession but couldn’t get the break through.

In the end it took until the hour mark to see a third goal and more importantly for Inter it was for them. It was to be by far the best goal of the match scored by Roberto Gagliardini. The midfielder received the ball on the right hand side edge of the box and with the ball slightly in the air toe poked it delightfully, for the sheer beauty of it this goal should be considered one of the best of the season.

There was a chance near the end to make it 4-0 which would have gone down as one of the extraordinary goals with two different Inter players volleying the ball to each other before Sanchez volleyed it towards goal- but alas it wasn’t to be. But this win was another important statement for the club that they could be league contenders.

Inter are in 2nd and are 5 points behind city rivals Milan who beat Fiorentina 2-0. Inter have won 11 points from their last 15 available and have lost just once so far this season.

Antonio Conte said after the Sassuolo game that despite the 3-0 victory this wasn’t a great performance. “We always try to give our best, at times it works better than others, sometimes the results aren’t as positive but we always give 100 per cent. It’s our best result of the season, but other performances have been far better. The result tends to affect judgement of performances. If we are talking about furore and determination, then perhaps it was the best, but if we’re discussing quality of football, then that’s a different matter. The ideal is to combine those two elements.”

Inter beat Borussia Monchengladbach to give hope for Champions League survival

Group B is tighter than tight and only 3 points separates 1st from 4th. Inter are currently last with 5 points but saved themselves from a group exit when they beat Borussia Monchengladbach 3-2 in Germany. It was an absolutely fantastic result given that the Bundesliga team are top of the group and it was their first defeat of the group stages.

Matteo Darmain opened the scoring for Conte’s side but the hero of the night was Romelu Lukaku who scored a brace to win the game 3-2. Lukaku had made his comeback in the league game but came on as a late substitute but it was in this match where Lukaku underlined just what an important player he is for the club.

There is only one more game to be played in the group stages and Inter must beat Shakhtar Donetsk. The good news is that Conte’s team will, at least, be at home. When Inter played Shakhtar away from home earlier in the group games the match finished 0-0. However Inter will also need Real Madrid to beat Borussia Monchengladbach in their final game, and Real will need to go for the win to assure qualification anyway. Madrid will be at home for that game.

Spotlight on Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku is the one player that just keeps scoring the goals and rescuing Inter and he did so yet again in the Champions League. Inter will be hoping that the Belgian international will be able to perform at 100% when they take on Shakhtar in a crucial final game of the group stages.

Italian media have been praising Lukaku this week and the player himself has admitted that his time at Inter so far has been the best of his career- in short he is enjoying his football and it is really showing on the pitch. Lukaku has scored seven goals in just 8 league matches this season and overall has netted 45 goals in just 63 games.

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Inter hit Torino for 4 as Antonio Conte’s men prepare for Real Madrid

What a game we witnessed at the San Siro as Inter came back from 2-0 down to beat Torino 4-2. The win has moved Inter up to 5th place and this was the clubs 4th unbeaten game in a row.

It is of course incredible to think that an encounter which featured six goals only had one in the first half and that came by the way of Simeone Zaza’s strike in injury time of the first half. Some nice one two interplay on the edge of the box led up to the goal. In truth it was hard for Inter to complain as they had been sluggish in the first half and Torino were the better team, indeed at home Inter had only managed one shot on target up until then.

The objectives for the second half were crystal clear for Inter and that was to pull a goal back as soon as possible. But again it was a stop start procedure to the game in the early exchanges of the second half which saw both Alessandro Bastoni and Ashley Young booked within 15 minutes of each other. But it was Young’s yellow card that counted more as he committed a foul on Torino’s Wilfried Singo. Though it was never intentional Young’s foot caught Singo in the chest and a penalty was awarded. Cristian Ansaldi made no mistakes from the spot and Inter were losing 2-0 with less than 30 minutes left.

However the key to the comeback was Inter scoring just two minutes after the penalty. Some good build up play saw Romelu Lukaku hit the bar, but a scramble in the area afterwards saw the ball fall to Alexis Sanchez who scored his first goal of the season for the Italian giants.

With Torino’s defence now being opened up at will Sanchez crossed the ball for Lukaku who simply couldn’t miss from what looked like to be inches out. Inter had pulled back to 2-2 in the space of three minutes and the visitors looked shell shocked.

By this time Lautaro Martinez and Ivan Perisic were brought on to bolster attack and the message was clear, Inter were going in for all three points. With just six minutes of the game left Torino gave away a needless penalty which Lukaku made no mistakes of tucking away. Inter were now leading 3-2 from 2-0 down and that was the Belgian’s seventh goal of the season so far.

A fourth was on its way and Lukaku who had a terrific second half was unselfish to lay the ball off for Martinez to score his first goal of the game rather than Lukaku going for his hat trick. A once nightmare of a game ended up being a dream for Inter who showed a lot of character to come through a difficult moment.

Antonio Conte’s thoughts on the Torino game

“I didn’t like the first half, as we basically didn’t play. I hope this can serve as a wake-up call, so we realise it’s a tough slog and we need to dig deep to make it as difficult as possible for our opponents. Too often, we either haven’t done that at all or done it too late.” Said Conte.

Conte added: “What changed in the final half-hour was the ferocity of our pressing. If you do pressing slowly, going through the motions, it won’t do anything. You need ferocity and the desire to work hard and win the ball back immediately. We scored four goals after that and could’ve had a few more.”

Next up Real Madrid in the Champions League

Attentions now turn to a huge game where Inter will face Real Madrid in the Champions League group stage match to be played at San Siro. These two teams have won the Champions League in the last decade five times between them. When the clubs met a few weeks ago in the reverse fixture the game ended 3-2 to Real.

If Inter lose this game they could be in real danger of not qualifying for the knock out rounds and come into this match in last place in their group with 2 points. Borussia Monchengladbach lead the group with 5 points which presently remains tight, but Inter really need a win to put them back in the mix.

 

Inter players fantasy points update

Romelu Lukaku was the star turn for Inter in the fantasy rankings and earned 12 points against Torino. Alexis Sanchez earned 6 and Lautaro Martinez took home 4 points.

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Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round Six

Atalanta: Marten De Roon strained the adductor in his left thigh and will sit out the next two matches. Cristiano Piccini picked up a similar issue while trying to gain some shape. Robin Gosens is out with a late calf problem. 

Benevento: Iago Falque and Federico Barba will stay on the mend with their physical issues, while Gabriel Moncini returned midweek. 

Bologna: Federico Santander underwent reconstructive surgery on the right knee after spraining it midweek and will return in the Spring. Among their injured players, Gary Medel (calf) is the closest to recovering, but he might need another week. Andreas Skov Olsen (back) and Andrea Poli (fibula) could return after the second international break. Ibrahima Mbaye (thigh) and Nicola Sansone (hip) are late scratches.  Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round Five

Atalanta: Matteo Pessina returned in Champions League from a late-season patellar dislocation. Ruslan Malinovskyi had an old scar in his adductor flare up and missed the previous game, but he is set to be available SaturdayCristiano Piccini (knee) could return sooner rather than later, while Pierluigi Gollini (knee) is at least two weeks away.

Benevento: Nicolas Viola has resumed practicing after his meniscus surgery and made the squad list. Gabriele Moncini and Federico Barba are out again to muscular problems and are joined in that regard by Iago Falque.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 38 – Saturday Games

BRESCIA-SAMPDORIA

Brescia: they actually played better than expected versus Lazio, where they had some opportunities to score, in particular with Ernesto Torregrossa, but were unable to cash in. Several injuries left them with a skeleton crew as Torregrossa, Florian Aye, Nikolas Spalek and Jaromir Zmrhal are the only attackers available. All of them, excluding Aye, have been able to hit the net recently, while Sandro Tonali and Bruno Martella have been pretty good in the less offensive roles.

Suggested picks: Torregrossa, Spalek, Zmrhal. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 37

PARMA-ATALANTA

Parma: Dejan Kulusevski willed them to victory, again, versus the lowly Brescia with an assist and a scorcher and he is finishing his stay in style, while Gervinho has been pretty paltry in recent matches, scoring just once in the last seven. Gianluca Caprari took advantage of his increased minutes and converted a PK, while among the other back-ups Luca Siligardi has been the liveliest. Roberto Inglese is tough to trust since his minutes are still spotty. Juraj Kucka returned from a short absence and he and Jasmin Kurtic are surely capable of doing damage offensively. Matteo Darmian is coming off his first goal of the season and also Riccardo Gagliolo notched one lately but their fullbacks will have their hands full defensively in this one.

Suggested picks: Kulusevski, Kucka, Caprari. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 36 – Early Games

MILAN-ATALANTA

Milan: the Rossoneri came out on top again versus Sassuolo, exploiting the one-man advantage like the veteran team they are. Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted a brace to snap out of a short slump and Hakan Calhanoglu continued to do his thing with two more assists. The Turk has been raining hellfire for a while now, while Ante Rebic’s scoring binge has abated a little bit, but he obviously remains a strong option. They will not have two key men in Ismael Bennacer and Theo Hernandez and their replacements are not on the fantasy radar. Alexis Saelemaekers and Franck Kessie also found the target recently, but in easier match-ups. Giacomo Bonaventura has picked up few bonuses but he is a risky play because of his sporadic minutes.

Suggested picks: Calhanoglu, Ibrahimovic, Rebic. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 35

ATALANTA-BOLOGNA

Atalanta: they were stymied a bit by their mini clones of Verona, but Duvan Zapata still came through, scoring for the third game in a row, and they had few chances to win it especially with Mario Pasalic, who was coming off a hat-trick. Ruslan Malinovskyi was not as effective in the Josip Ilicic’s role, while he had shined as pure no.10, in lieu of Alejandro Gomez, and that is something to monitor because El Papu does not rest often, while Ilicic is in poor conditions and will be managed cautiously. Luis Muriel might be a better candidate for that spot, while Pasalic is always very involved offensively whenever he is fielded. No doubts on the flanks this round around since Hans Hateboer is suspended and both Robin Gosens and Timothy Castagne are strong options.

Suggested picks: Zapata, Gomez, Muriel. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 34

VERONA-ATALANTA

Verona: after a consistent stretch with a pure striker up front, Ivan Juric went back to a false-nine, Valerio Verre in this case, against Roma, but the results were not that great, with the second half push coming on the heels of the subs. The returns from injury of Fabio Borini, Eddie Salcedo and Valentin Eysseric will allow the coach to go that route more often, especially against top teams, although Samuel Di Carmine has been decently effective (three goals in the last six games). Mattia Pessina scored again and he has separated himself from their slew of attacking midfielders, while Mattia Zaccagni picked up the assist. Darko Lazovic has been their most consistent player.

Suggested picks: Pessina, Lazovic, Borini. Continue reading