‘Epic Inter’ may have been the headline from Corriere dello Sport, but their performance on the pitch was anything but. The 94th-minute winner from Marcelo Brozovic may have resulted in his trademark celebration, which he even has tattooed on his hand, but the second late winner in a week simply masked the numerous problems that exist in Luciano Spalletti’s team.
Once again the Nerazzurri were slow, ponderous and lacked urgency, traits that have been synonymous with this team since day one. The Coach by his own admission had been furnished with the tools, but so far seems to be struggling to do the job.
In a bizarre game that saw three goals disallowed by VAR, Inter managed to chaotically win in the last gasp thanks to their Croatian midfielder. Both teams had played in midweek, so the likes of Ivan Perisic, Stefan De Vrij were rested, but the team that took the field was still a strong one. Perhaps Antonio Candreva being deployed on the left raised some eyebrows, but it was no game changer.
What followed was a match that related to any of those previous performances against Sassuolo to Torino, slow laborious and full of misplaced passes. It has become a feature of Inter this term to struggle when supplying Mauro Icardi (in fact it has been a feature for longer than this), but Spalletti had been confident that the likes of Radja Nainggolan would be able to supply their Argentine hitman. This is something that still hasn’t happened, as continually Icardi looks isolated and this was the case again in Genoa last night.
With Matteo Politano and Antonio Candreva offering little from the flanks, the game soon became stagnant. This allowed the opposition to have too much time on the ball. Inter were guilty of not supporting the wide men and the attacks often fizzled out due to lost balls or the wingers running into trouble. Despite his efforts, the Coach is struggling to find a system that allows Inter to play expansive football and look like a threat in the final third.
For all the criticism they may get for the performance, one cannot argue about the character of the team. Following Matias Vecino’s late winner against Tottenham, Brozovic also showed that there is a never say die attitude in the team at the moment. Inter have won again after all that is said and done, but the Croatian’s comments after the game that “this is a turning point” were also the words used by the Uruguayan in midweek.
A tough game against Fiorentina is followed by against Cagliari and then PSV, they have an opportunity to keep this run going, but will have to improve quickly. They will have to up their levels simply for the fact that in October they face Milan, Barcelona, Lazio, Genoa and then Barcelona again.
Spalletti, who was for some reason sent off for shouting into the camera when Inter scored at the end, certainly isn’t without passion himself. Perhaps it is taking risks that may allow Inter to attack with more harmony, as they cannot keep leaving it this late in games. Defensively they do actually seem to be improving, as Kwadwo Asamoah has been an upgrade at left-back and whichever centre-back pairing he uses seem capable and balanced.
Inter have in conclusion won twice in a week, but not played well once. Winning is all that matters, it is true, but a continuation of this level of play will not keep bringing these results. Not every week will Vecino or Brozovic be able to keep saving them and for the Nerazzurri to really progress, Spalletti will have to come up with a system that showcases an obvious style or game plan. Perhaps he was right and they need to take more risks in offensive positions and believe in themselves. Until they do this, they will be far from ‘epic’.