SoccerBefore Barcelona, Inzaghi’s Inter Milan is ‘far from Conte’
Simone Inzaghi, who arrived last year on the bench of an Inter Milan shaped by Antonio Conte, squandered this legacy and experienced his first major turbulence before receiving FC Barcelona in the Champions League.
« Threatens? We still are, in every game, every week”, philosophized the 46-year-old coach on Saturday after a fourth defeat in eight Serie A days, against Roma (1-2) by José Mourinho, the last to have took Inter – and an Italian club – to victory in C1 (in 2010).
The reception of Barcelona appears to be the match that can guide the European destiny of the Nerazzurri. Both teams lost to Bayern Munich (Inter at San Siro, Barcelona in Bavaria) and are set to compete for the second qualifying ticket for the round of 16, behind the German giants.
Inzaghi had so far perfectly taken over the controls of Inter from Antonio Conte (2019-2021), returned to the top of Italian football in May 2021, with the same system and most of its players. The departures of Romelu Lukaku, Achraf Hakimi and Christian Eriksen had been offset by the arrivals of Edin Dzeko, Denzel Dumfries and Hakan Calhanoglu.
« Grinta » lost
If Inter had to leave the Scudetto to AC Milan last season, they consoled themselves with two titles (Italian Cup and Super Cup) and qualified for the knockout stages of C1 for the first time in ten years, eliminated with honors by Liverpool (0-2, 1-0). But since the summer, the Conte legacy seems to have been wasted. Inter have lost the thread and especially the values of their ex-coach, today at Tottenham: defensive solidity and “grinta”.
Inter have already taken thirteen goals in eight league days, worrying before receiving Barça and their gunner Robert Lewandowski, new leaders of the Spanish Liga. The Nerazzurri are weighed down by the unprecedented feverishness of the defensive trio made up of Stefan De Vrij, Alessandro Bastoni and Milan Skriniar, whose summer was disrupted by negotiations for an ultimately aborted transfer to Paris SG.
« We still have to work more on the details, » advocates Inzaghi, who recognizes that we all have to do better, me first. Beyond 9th place in the championship, the most alarming thing is undoubtedly a certain passivity in the headwinds. Three times in the last four league matches, against AC Milan (2-3) in the derby, in Udine (1-3) and against Roma, the Nerazzurri were joined and then overtaken after opening the scoring.
The absence of Romelu Lukaku, injured in a thigh at the end of August, continues to weigh heavily in attack. Returning star of the summer to revive before the World Cup-2022, after a complicated season at Chelsea, the Belgian international only played three matches (one goal scored). Expected for this shock against the Catalans, his return should still be postponed.
Inzaghi therefore does not hide being “worried”, but remains optimistic despite the new setback against Roma: “Worried, I was more worried after Udine, even if we still have the same number of points. The players gave me a nice answer. It was certainly our best game since the start of the season,” assured the former Lazio technician.
“Tonight, I saw my Inter again, which won two trophies last year,” he pleaded in the face of ever-stronger criticism. According to the Gazzetta dello Sport, the Inter leaders are awaiting a reaction in the next three matches, during the double confrontation against Barcelona (return match on October 12) and the trip to Sassuolo on Saturday: “More than the results, the performances of the next nine days will guide the final decisions on Inzaghi, ”assured the Milanese sports daily on Monday.
Inter without Lukaku or Brozovic, Martinez uncertain
Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku and Croatian midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, key elements of Inter Milan, will not be reinstated for Tuesday’s Champions League match against FC Barcelona, nerazzurro coach Simone Inzaghi said on Monday.
Argentinian striker Lautaro Martinez, victim of muscle « fatigue » against AS Roma (1-2) on Saturday, is uncertain, the coach said during a press conference.
Inter and Barça chasing Bayern
Inter and FC Barcelona, in pursuit of Bayern Munich in the very tough Group C of the Champions League, face off in a duel of dolphins on Tuesday (9:00 p.m.) in Milan on the third day of the C1.
Bayern, which will have received Viktoria Plzen a little earlier in the evening (6:45 p.m.), is already an authoritarian leader in this group after its successes against the Milanese and the Catalans, each time with a score of 2-0 . What forget the difficulties displayed in the Bundesliga.
Between Inter and Barça, who will face each other in quick succession in the space of eight days, the current stake is therefore second place, qualifying for the round of 16. Xavi’s men travel to Lombardy with their morale pumped up: they have just taken the lead in La Liga.
In Group A, Ajax (3 points) has every interest in not losing at home to Naples (6). A success at home even seems more than desirable at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in the event that Liverpool (3 points) win at the same time against Glasgow Rangers.
In groups B and D, Porto and Marseille will want to get rid of the dunce label at home by forgetting the initial zero out of six, respectively against Bayer Leverkusen and Sporting Portugal.