“We have a weak character and are below par in more or less every area”. Those were Luciano Spalletti’s words after Inter’s latest abysmal display against Walter Zenga’s Crotone. Unfortunately for their tifosi, the Beneamata proved to be incapable of getting results under pressure in recent years, as they failed to produce time and time again.
The Nerazzurri are now without a win in 10 games in all competition, as they only managed to scrape past Pordenone after penalties in the Coppa Italia, but arguably the only thing that is worse than the results is the team’s performance.
Inter haven’t scored more than one goal in a game since December 3, so it’s completely understandable that the almost 50,000 home crowd was expecting a response against Crotone. Instead, they received yet another contender for the ‘worst performance of the season’ award, as Inter was once again slow, predictable, error prone, as well as showing their lack of quality.
It really is hard to find a positive in the Nerazzurri’s performances right now, as the whole midfield was yet again sluggish in possession and had no clue how to trouble the visitors’ backline. It’s true that the absence of club captain and top goalscorer Mauro Icardi didn’t help Inter’s cause, but as previous games showed, even a proven predator like the Argentinian can’t make the difference when the ball is moved so slowly by the whole team. Icardi’s replacement Eder was probably Inter’s best player on the pitch, as the ex-Sampdoria man’s mobility made him the only player that Crotone struggled to defend against.
It is more than clear that Spalletti must change things for the next games. Eder probably deserves a chance to start alongside Icardi in expense of any of the attacking midfield trio, which is underperforming heavily in recent weeks.
Ivan Perisic, Antonio Candreva and Marcelo Brozovic do have the quality to change a game, but even Spalletti admitted that “a few of the players who can make the difference and give that extra quality are below par”.
This also means that it’s probably already time for new signing Rafinha to start, as both Brozovic and Borja Valero have proved incapable of bringing the goods in the trequartista position. Inter’s lack of creativity also means that Joao Cancelo should be starting every game at least for the time being, as the Portuguese international’s dribbling and crossing ability will add some unpredictability.
After starting the season so well and being top of the table until the start of December, the Nerazzurri now risk turning into a complete fiasco. A top four finish is a must and it really is anachievable target, but Inter need to change and need to do it fast. Spalletti’s men are running out of time and while some might argue that the next few rounds, in which they face Bologna, Genoa and Benevento, are all winnable fixtures, what does “winnable” mean when you failed to win 10 games in a row?
The truth is that regardless of the technical or tactical choices that Spalletti makes, Inter do look like a team that lacks character and determination. The players seem to crack in tense situations and fear strikes throughout the side as soon as they areput under pressure. Even when the team is leading, they are unable to put a game to bed and tend to make costly mistakes in the final stages.
There were no signs of progress against Crotone, as shortly after Inter conceded the equaliser in the second half, it seemed like the visitors were more likely to win the game. As ifthat wasn’t bizarre enough, Zenga’s men also looked like the side who wanted it more, which is absolutely outrageous and intolerable for a team of Inter’s calibre.
It is clear that Spalletti is already trying to make changes both to the starting line-up and the players’ roles, but can he insert character and self-beliefin a team that is showing no signs of that right now? You better hurry, Luciano. Time is running out.