Antonio Conte’s European woes continue

When Inter was drawn into Group C alongside Real Madrid, Borussia Moenchengladbach, and Shakhtar Donetsk, it was quickly labelled the group of death, and with good reason. Zinedine Zidane’s men may no longer have Cristiano Ronaldo, but were just coming off a La Liga triumph, while the Bundesliga side boasts one of Europe’s most dynamic frontlines. Shakhtar, by contrast, has always demonstrated they can compete, regularly qualifying for the knockout stages.

Regardless of the tough opposition, Antonio Conte’s men entered the group as favourites to progress alongside Real Madrid. The Nerazzurri possess a resolute backline, including the likes of Samir Handanovic, Milan Skriniar and Stefan de Vrij, and can count on Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez for firepower.

Nicolo Barella’s progression has helped them significantly in the middle of the park, while Achraf Hakimi’s summer arrival offered Inter some much-needed quality from out wide. Despite this, Inter has struggled to get its European campaign off the mark and are currently staring down the barrel an early exit. Antonio Conte’s side are languishing dangerously at the bottom of Group C, winless after four games, and will need nothing short of a huge turnaround to progress.

Beyond winning its last two games, Inter will need some help around Group C, giving them an outside shot of qualifying to the knockout stages. While Inter’s struggles have almost definitely condemned them to an early exit, they are indicative of a greater pattern at play: Antonio Conte continues to falter in Europe’s elite competition.

Dating back to his days at Juventus, the veteran tactician has struggled in the Champions League, failing to make deep runs into the competition. As it stands, Conte’s European record is nothing short of abysmal: 11 wins, 12 draws, and 11 losses for a 32% win ratio. At this level, that is simply not good enough.

Inter has invested significantly in moulding its roster to fit Conte’s preferred 3-5-2 and has since been left empty-handed. Dethroning Juventus may be a step too far, but even then, the Nerazzurri were unable to muster a serious title threat, faltering at crucial stages last season. The Bianconeri are largely a side in transition and have demonstrated their own vulnerabilities in recent seasons, yet Inter could not capitalize.

Beyond their struggles to contend, Inter’s recurring issues in the Champions League are concerning. Should they fail to qualify, that would be three consecutive group stage exits for them, two of which have come under Conte. While Group C is understandably difficult, Inter can do much better than two points from four games.

In many ways, Conte’s outdated 3-5-2 has cost them. Gian Piero Gasperini has since revolutionized the back three, urging his men to go forward and has shown the rest of Italy that a little courage can go a long way; a lesson Conte has not learned.

The former Azzurri boss has not adjusted his conservative setup, despite its clear limitations as it relates to the Champions League. Inter’s buildup play has become far too predictable and easy to defend against. Rather than committing another man forward, Conte persists with his 3-5-2, with Inter struggling to create regular chances.

The case of Christian Eriksen is another concern. Conte has failed to integrate the former Spurs maestro into his eleven, reducing him to a supersub. The Danish international would add some much-needed quality in the final third and inject some fresh ideas into the side, but alas, he doesn’t fit Conte’s 3-5-2. Despite featuring rarely, Eriksen continues to make an impact with Denmark on the international level, dictating proceedings in the final third. The midfielder is rumoured to be on his way out from Inter once the window reopens.

As Inter heads into a crucial stretch in the season, it may be time for Conte to reevaluate his roster and for the first time in his career, adapt. Inter can ill afford a trophyless season, let alone another early Champions League exit. As unlikely as it may be, Conte would be wise to shake things up and inject new life into his Inter side.

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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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Inter held at Atalanta as Lukaku comes back from injury

It was another two points dropped for Inter at the weekend as they drew 1-1 at Atalanta. Draws are becoming the norm at Inter who have drawn in their last two games and have almost ended their matches all square on 50% of their occasions so far.

Inter took the lead through Lautaro Martinez’s glancing and precise header. Martinez latched onto an Ashley Young cross and it was a superb unstoppable header from the Argentine international. With Inter breaking the deadlock just before the hour mark they instantly became favourites to win the game at that point.

However in truth this was an encounter that was very close and the teams enjoyed equal share of chances and possession, a draw did feel like the right result and the home team eventually obliged. The equaliser was a well worked one although one would have to question Inter’s defending at the time which seemed all over the place, letting Atalanta have time on the ball as Aleksey Miranchuk swerved and shot on the edge of the area. That was the midfielder’s first goal of the campaign and his first fantasy points earning 4 for the weekend.

Though Inter drew again they didn’t lose ground on the league leaders Milan as they also drew 2-2 at Verona and so the gap between them remains at 5 points. Also on a plus point is the fact that Inter have lost just once this season. Inter’s next game will be at home to Torino after the international break.

Still there was a disappointment in the air over the Atalanta game because the club had taken the lead and also because they came into that game with virtually no injuries to the first team squad. A welcome return was given to striker Romelu Lukaku returning after missing a few games. He started from the bench but when he came on he made some good runs even if looking inevitably rusty. Lukaku has now joined up with the Belgian national side for the November internationals and Inter will be keeping a close eye on him and hoping that his previous injury does not flare up.

Focus on Lautaro Martintez

Lautaro Martinez is one of the hottest properties in European football right now. The 23 year old is wanted by the biggest teams in Europe, and of course Inter want to keep him. The question is could Antonio Conte’s team refuse an exceptional offer? He will of course stay for this season but if his goals help Inter win the league for example that only goes to highlight his name once more.

There can be little doubt of his excellence. He is not just scoring goals but helping create them and when he does score they are usually a thing of beauty. He is the real deal and if he can remain injury free he will have quite a career in front of him.

So far this season Martinez has scored 4 goals in the league and five in all competitions and he is valued at 7.5m in the fantasy rankings.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Seven – Top Matches

SASSUOLO-UDINESE

Sassuolo: the Neroverdi were missing their top three players against Napoli, but they won anyway thanks a brand-new scheme by Roberto De Zerbi, who, for once, opted for caution and a three-man back-line and got rewarded with their talented central midfielders stepping up. Filip Djuricic has COVID and will not return here, Domenico Berardi and Francesco Caputo have been called up, but they might be limited, so it is possible Giacomo Raspadori stays initially in a big role and Gregoire Defrel gets the nod. Both the Frenchman and Jeremie Boga have not looked great as they work their way into shape, while Hamed Traore is generally pretty lively. Even if at less than 100 percent, Caputo and Betardi are always good choices, while Lopez would be an outstanding one if used as no.10 to substitute Djuricic. Continue reading

Inter lose thriller at Real Madrid following a draw against Parma

Two games, no wins and yet Inter scored 4 goals and should have scored more. The Nerazzurri would have taken something from this week which included a draw against Parma and defeat against Real Madrid, because in both games they didn’t play too bad.

Inter had found themselves 2-0 down at home against Parma courtesy of two second half strikes by Gervinho. The first was a belter but the second could have been taken care of and was more about scrappy defending from Inter who would have been disappointed at conceding a goal which in most games would have killed the game.

To their credit though Inter finally woke up and just two minutes later had pulled a goal back through Marcelo Brozovic who powered through Parma’s defence and kept on his feet to slot the ball home. Inter were a transferred team in the 2nd half and Parma scoring a second rattled them. In the first half for example they managed just 2 shots on target but in the 2nd half that increased to seven as they increased the pressure.

Despite Inter having goal line chances cleared off the line, time was running out and it seemed that they would lose the match. But a free kick swung into the area found the glancing head of Ivan Perisic who in the 92nd minute made it 2-2. Inter then had a chance to win the game but Arturo Vidal somehow missed strong contact on a cross to out it away.

It’s another two points dropped for Inter and it has happened at home but considering they were 2-0 down Antonio Conte the Inter coach will have taken this. The result leaves Inter in 6th place and five points behind league leaders Milan. Inter are drawing games but have only lost once in their last five and next weekend they will take on Atalanta away from home.

Inter lose thriller against Real Madrid

Inter followed up their draw in Serie A by losing 3-2 to Real Madrid in Spain. Though they started as the underdogs they gave Zinedine Zidane’s men a real scare. Madrid did find themselves 2-0 up within 33 minutes through goals by Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos but Inter kept their hopes alive by pulling the game back to 2-1 in the 35th minute through Lautaro Martinez.

Then the comeback hero v Parma Ivan Perisic did it again getting Inter’s 2nd goal making the game 2-2 in the 68th minute. However with just ten minutes left to play Rodrygo scored a third for Real to give them 3 precious points. Madrid had started their group slowly and this match at home really was a must win.

As for Inter the loss was bad news and Conte’s team have just 2 points after 3 games. But the group is close with Borussia Monchengladbach the group leaders only on 5 points. The pressure is on Inter though who will play Real Madrid at San Siro on November 25th and they will likely have to pick up all three points to keep in the mix.

Romelu Lukaku has managed to earn the most fantasy points for Inter with 19 so far. But he missed the Parma game and Real Madrid clash. There is no further word on his injury but the club will be hoping that the Belgian international will be fit to play against Atalanta this weekend.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Six – Top Matches

INTER-PARMA

Inter: Romelu Lukaku suffered a thigh injury that will cost him at least one game and the Nerazzurri will have to make up for the loss of their target man, something that rarely happened last year. Alexis Sanchez is dealing with a small problem as well, therefore Lautaro Martinez, who has slowed down after opening the campaign with three straight goals, will have to shoulder the attack, then they will hope Andrea Pinamonti can be decent right away. They also briefly used Ivan Perisic as second-striker in the last game. Stefano Sensi is back on the shelf with his customary muscular problems: Christian Eriksen had some flashes last week, but so far him and Marcelo Brozovic have produced nothing too exciting. Their best midfielder has been Nicolò Barella (two assists), while Arturo Vidal has mostly taken care of the dirty work. At some point Radja Nainggolan will get in on the action, but it has not happened yet. Fortunately, Achraf Hakimi (one goal, two assists) was a false positive and he will resume plowing the flank from the start here, while Ashley Young has shaken off the virus and will challenge Ivan Perisic, who has been solid (two assists) but has not really taken off. Their back-line has improved with Alessandro Bastoni back in the fold.

Recommended picks: Martinez, Perisic, Hakimi.  Continue reading

A win in Genoa and draw in Ukraine keep Inter on the right path after hectic week

What a week it has been for Inter. First the derby defeat which put the club into a reality check after the pre-season hype and then they jumped back on the winning trail to beat Genoa away from home 2-0.

The victory in Genoa was a professional and solid win for Inter who had to fight hard for every ball and no one was that surprised to see the score locked in at 0-0 at half time. Star striker Lautaro Martinez was denied and was then shown the yellow card and it just seemed like it could be one of those days for Antonio Conte’s men.

However on the 64th minute Nicolo Barella teed up Romelu Lukaku who made no mistake to open the scoring and score his 5th goal of the season. The game was wrapped up 12 minutes later when Danilo D’Ambrosio scored his first goal in a month for the club which sealed the win. At 2-0 the game was over and Genoa gave up the chase.

It was 3 points that Inter really deserved and in truth they dominated the game having 6 shots on target in total. It said everything about Genoa who are now in 15th position with just one win this season that they didn’t even have a shot on target. With those stats had Inter dropped 2 points at the weekend they would have regretted it.

Whilst Milan remain top of the league they dropped 2 points as they were held at home in a thrilling 3-3 draw against Roma. Inter are now in 4th place and are just 3 points behind Milan.

On Tuesday Inter played their 2nd game of the Champions League and drew 0-0 against Shakhtar Donetsk. This match followed their opening game where they also drew 2-2 that time against Borussia Monchengladbach and the next fixture in their group is against the mighty Real Madrid. With two draws so far this leaves Inter in 3rd place with 2 points and they are a further 2 points adrift of current group leaders Shakhtar.

Coach Antonio Conte was disappointed with the draw saying: “I think we have to be disappointed in the final result because we played well and created many chances. We played with the right intensity, with the right commitment, as a big team. We dominated and we were not lucky. We had some chances to score, we played a very good game in both phases. Don’t forget Shakhtar have important technical qualities, we are sorry because we would deserve to win the game. We are on the right way, the mentality is a good one.”

Inter have a busy time coming up which includes a home game with Parma then they play Real Madrid away a few days later on November 3rd and then they are away to Atalanta. There are no easy games in that pick.

Top 3 best performing players in the fantasy rankings

1. Romelu Lukaku 19pts

2. Lautaro Martinez 11pts

3. Danilo D’Ambrosio 10pts

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Serie A Fantasy Previews – Round Five – Top Matches

ATALANTA-SAMPDORIA

Atalanta: the Bergamaschi looked unprepared to match Napoli’s aggressiveness in the last fixture and the much-anticipated bout ended with a shocking beating. They will look to return to form in Serie A as well after pummelling Midtjylland. Alejandro Gomez has been the tip of the spear so far and straight-up one of the best players in the League. Luis Muriel has put his name in the stat-sheet twice, like Sam Lemmers, who has made the most of his limited opportunities. Duvan Zapata has been more up-and-down. Josip Ilicic looked rusty in his first game back, but that is understandable: the good news is that he indeed came back and the coach will likely give him regular minutes to get him into shape. Ruslan Malinovskyi is questionable due to an injury, which may lead to some playing time for the intriguing Aleksey Miranchuk. Their stud wing-backs Hans Hateboer and Robin Gosens have scored one goal each, with the German international adding two assists.

Suggested picks: Gomez, Muriel, Zapata. Continue reading

Inter shot down by Ibrahimovic in Milan derby, concentration now on the Champions League

The Derby della Madonnina was won by AC Milan who beat Inter 2-1 in a pulsating game of football. Both sides are being tipped to challenge Juventus this season for the Serie A title so this derby had much more spice about it than it has had in the past few seasons.

But it was a derby that felt like it was over just after it had started. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was slightly touched in the box and seemed to go down far too easy for Milan to be awarded a penalty in the 12th minute which he stuck away with no problem. And then after a superb counter attack Milan were 2-0 up just four minutes later and Zlatan again was there from a couple of yards out to prod home in what was an easy goal for him to score.

But twelve minutes later Ivan Perisic crossed the ball for Romelu Lukaku who actually looked surprise by the poor defending of the Milan back four and seemed to take his time in easily tapping in from close range just as Ibrahimovic had done moments before. With 3 goals scored and not even half an hour played this looked like it could be a rare derby game with lots of goals, and yet there would be no more.

Inter did remain a threat and late on they thought they should have had a penalty but VAR concluded and was right that in the build up Inter were offside.

All in all and compared to other derby games this was an enjoyable one, in part because in the 2nd half Inter had to come forward and they ended up with 4 shots on target to Milan’s six. Milan are now top of the league with 12 points and Inter are in sixth place and are 5 points behind. It was Inter’s first defeat of the season and they have now gone their last two matches without a win.

Inter coach Antonio Conte had this to say after the game: “I think we played very well and created many situations to score goals, in some cases we are unlucky, and it’s disappointing because the lads certainly put the effort in and believed they could win. We were distracted and made errors on their two goals, still had the chances to equalise, but Milan won and so we congratulate them. Every match we seem to create many, many scoring opportunities, so need to be more cool-headed and clinical in front of goal. At the same time, I cannot complain about their attitude, as we tried everything to at least get the equaliser.”

Inter prepare to meet Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League

The Champions League has returned and Inter will kick off their campaign at home against German outfit Borussia Monchengladbach. Inter will be the favourites to secure all three points when the two teams clash. The big news for Inter is that Christian Eriksen and Alexis Sanchez should be able to return for the club and both are set to start the game.

Romelu Lukaku- the best player of Inter so far in the fantasy rankings

Romelu Lukaku took over Lautaro Martinez as the best player for Inter in the fantasy rankings. Lukaku now has 15 points and collected a further four points at the weekend as he scored what turned out to be Inter’s consolation goal. The Belgian international much like last season is on fire and may be worth adding to your team. You can check out Lukaku’s full stats right here.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Four – Top Matches

NAPOLI-ATALANTA

Napoli: they did not get to play the third game because of well-known reasons, but the first two were pretty indicative. Victor Osimhen has yet to score, but he has had a major impact anyway and he is bound to break through soon. In the meantime, Dries Mertens has led the charge (two goals, two assists), helped by the resurgent Hirving Lozano, who has kept up the momentum from the restart. The injury to Lorenzo Insigne and Piotr Zielinski and Elijf Elmas getting COVID might slow down the deployment 4-2-3-1 in full force, but that should be the way forward and the arrival of Tiemoué Bakayoko cements it. The absences could give Matteo Politano and/or Stanislav Lobotka a bigger role than usual and the former scored in the Genoa romp. If Atalanta do not adjust the way they defend, they could make some sweet music on counters.

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