It wasn’t meant to be like this for Inter.
The squad had been much improved over the summer and the media had dubbed them the ‘anti-Juventus’. Luciano Spalletti scoffed at this is his Press conference after the draw against Torino, claiming that they are not the ‘anti anyone’. A defeat against Sassuolo was followed up by throwing away a two-goal lead to Torino, and the Nerazzurri have been their own worst enemy so far this season. They need to find their antidote quickly.
Spalletti said it was “hard to explain” how his team surrendered a two-goal lead to allow he away side back into the game. His men had played well early in the game, and seemed to have put the opening day defeat to Sassuolo to one side. There was pace, purpose and quality exhibited; as Ivan Perisic and Stefan de Vrij looked to have put the game beyond the Granata. Sime Vrsaljko and Kwadwo Asamoah playing as wing backs in a 3-4-3 looked solid, and Milan Skriniar’s return gave the back line more stability.
The Nerazzurri fell apart due to their inability to deal with individual errors. It’s not just the errors themselves that need eradicating, but also the way the team responds to pressure. This goes further than just these two games, as last season could be used as a case study of how Inter continually had to climb out of holes they had dug themselves. Spalletti referred directly to the mistake from Samir Handanovic and how this then dictated the rest of the game.
The former Zenit Coach had a point. Whether it was Dalbert’s poor positioning in the first game or Handanovic’s bizarre misjudgement of a long ball down his throat, these are scenes that are all too frequent. The frustration for the fans who packed San Siro was that their team looked like they had adjusted from that first tepid display at the Mapei Stadium. The Curva Nord’s banner before the match asked the players to ‘run and fight’, and for most of the game they did. Matteo Politano and Ivan Perisic looked efficient and creative either side of Mauro Icardi, and the full-backs looked better than in many a year.
The simple facts were that Inter looked much improved in the first 45 minutes. They had outplayed Torino only to suffer an unexpected collapse in the second half.
Already Inter have had to look deeply at themselves in a campaign which is still so young. Today’s day off has been cancelled, as the squad looks to get to the bottom of why one mistake can rock them to their core.
Perhaps reason Spalletti is scratching his head is that this mental block seems to be continuing with a new set of players. There is no blaming Jeison Murillo, Davide Santon and Yuto Nagatomo now. As Gazzetta dello Sport put it this morning: Inter are the anti Inter.
Despite that there is no cause for too much alarm. If the Nerazzurri can replicate their first half display and do it consistently they could still gather momentum. After all, for most of the first half it was hard to fault them and new players like Politano were extremely impressive. The team under Spalletti will improve and the games against Bologna, Parma and Sampdoria next will give them a chance to do this. There will be no overreaction to this in Milan. There will be exasperation and irritation, but Inter have the players to still have a strong campaign.
Perhaps the expectation will lift from this squad after only one point from of six, and that lack of pressure could help them rally. The Beneamata will certainly be challenging for the top four this season, and a much-awaited return to the Champions League will also lift the mood. Are Inter still dragging their fans on an emotional roller coaster? Of course they are. Are they equally capable of achieving something special with this squad? Again, yes. That is why the frustration is as great as it is for Spalletti - because he knows that when they get it right they will be dangerous.