Wednesday November 6 2019
A tale of two Inters

It was the best of Inters. It was the worst of Inters. Giancarlo Rinaldi saw all sides of the Nerazzurri in their 3-2 defeat at Borussia Dortmund.

If it turns out to have been what many thought it could be before kick-off - a qualification play-off - then what a game it was. For 45 minutes, we purred about an almost perfect Inter that showed it knew how to suffer while being beautifully clinical when chances came. And, when it all unraveled in the face of an unrelenting yellow-and-black tide, it felt like an object lesson in how far the Nerazzurri have come - but also how far they still have to go.

Those of a more optimistic disposition can cling on to a first half where the Serie A side looked about as good as they ever have this season. Since their opening 45 minutes at Camp Nou, in fact.

They soaked up pressure and stung their opponents with two perfectly worked goals. At times, too, they got in Dortmund’s face high up the pitch and looked like they had the tactical balance right against a team which will always give you chances. However, it all came tumbling down in the second half like spaghetti from a packet with a hole snipped in the bottom.

That will be the aspect which Antonio Conte still has to work on most with this side - particularly at a European level. If any coach has made never letting your guard down his watchword then it is probably the former Juve, Chelsea and Italy boss. He would surely have told his troops at the interval not to think the job was done. But instead of going for the jugular, they helped throw their hosts a lifeline.

Two of the comeback goals came from Inter inaccuracies - expertly pounced upon - with the third a sumptuous move which cut the away side open. It is those little distractions which Inter will have to cut out if they want to complete the transformation their new leader craves. You might even get away with these things against some of Serie A’s lesser lights - but you will rarely do so in the Champions League. And defeat was duly delivered, from Borussia with love.

It all means that qualification looks a lot more improbable than it did at half-time in this fixture. It would likely take a couple of favours from Barcelona - and a helping hand from Slavia Prague on the final matchday - for Inter to hope to progress. The pragmatists will say that this team might be better focusing on winning domestically first before letting their heads be turned by Europe anyway. The more cynical will say it shows once again their coach’s deficiencies on the continent.

That would be a little harsh, however, based on this game alone. There was enough hope for the Milanese club to cling on to, despite the painful lessons of defeat. Lautaro Martinez keeps coming on in leaps and bounds, Nicolò Barella looks more complete every time we see him and Stefano Sensi’s return from injury was an immense tonic. Things need not be all doom and gloom.

This was the kind of setback that, one imagines, Conte will use to hammer his message home. Play with the focus and determination you did for half of this match, and we can go a long way. But get distracted for a moment and you can forget any dreams of silverware for another season. In the Westfalenstadion, his new club showed their good and bad sides in the space of one match. It will be up to the players to demonstrate whether this was a lesson they can learn from or an indication of deeper failings which will ultimately undermine their hopes of a trophy.

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Have your say...
A tale of two Inters, but just one tale for Conte for past 8 years.
on the 7th November, 2019 at 5:07pm
So do you guys think it was a mental problem or they just ran out of gas? I only know that loaning out Nainggolan without obligation and replacement is stupid.
on the 7th November, 2019 at 4:08pm
I think we need to hire a world best nutritionist to save our players from EXTINCTION. To be fair give conte new players or not he gonna use same players and meanwhile keep excusing how minor we are from all the others.
on the 7th November, 2019 at 7:40am
To be fair, contes gameplan involves midfielders who run up and back, look at the kms they put in each game. They were running heaps in the first half, but that completely dropped off second half. Still shouldn't have conceded 3 but lets be fair, theyl probably not concede a goal as bad at the one they did for Dortmund's second again. Bring in 2-3 decent players that can make a difference from the bench or step into the starting team without dropping quality and inter will step up.
on the 7th November, 2019 at 12:06am
Inter dominated the first half and completely destroyed Dortmund. The second half, Dortmund players ran harder and inter's midfield ran out of petrol. Simple as that, Conte is whinging because he asked for more quality midfield reinforcements. Sensi's injury was a big blow because it meant both Brozovic and Barella have had to play every minute of the last lot of games. I think theres been like 7 games in 20 days or something? The mid week games should have been postponed.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 11:51pm
Conte's post match comments annoyed me more than that shameful defeat. That sort of bitching that he pulled is not gonna help the team nor forcing management to reinforce. Some decisions like Ninja was questionable of course, but he fully supported them, so WTF! He will be even a better coach if he can hold his tantrum in these situations. Inter have been mentality vulnerable for years and nobody can change it in matter of a few months, keep your shit together and help the team even more!
on the 6th November, 2019 at 8:43pm
This showed deficiencies in Conte rather than the team. My dad, rest in peace, always said "the first half is the players' game, the second half is the managers' game". The team played the perfect game the first half, then the second half BVB manager adjusted while Conte remained his static self who has no clues how to do anything other than 352.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 8:07pm
What's with the not being able to cope with pace? In the 1st half Dortmund were cumbersome in their quite pointless possession and Inter coped easily but in the 2nd half as soon as they started to pass the ball quicker, better off the ball movement and injected real pace into their play, Inter suffered. Then of course it got to 3-2 and they started playing better again as Dortmund reverted to only wanting to counter attack. If only Conte could stop moaning
on the 6th November, 2019 at 4:37pm
The mountain that turned into a hill 2 weeks ago is now a mountain again

They need to win their last 2 and hope for a favour from Barca in round 5. If that happens, they'll go through. Unlikely, but possible

Napoli should be ok, with 2 draws or 1 win enough

Juve should be ok too, baring a loss tonight

Atalanta are doomed, bar a minute chance of a EL spot

Lazio need to win both their next two games, no excuses for them

Roma are in an ok position, but being robbed 2 weeks ago may cost them
on the 6th November, 2019 at 2:57pm
Conte has done a extraordinary with a team that have be perennial losers. His one track winning mentality might just have met its match, pazza inter. He may have got rid of the song bit harder to change the DNA. Wonder which will break 1st Inter or Conte? He wasn't even ranting and raving by the end.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 12:36pm
Inter's free fall tradition is coming... And Conte is transforming from Juve's legend to a complete clown. What a joke!

P.S: Marotta without Paratici is a complete garbage. Have fun Interloser fans!
on the 6th November, 2019 at 12:04pm
Yes Inter don't have depth but Conte proved once again he can't do it in Europe.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 10:45am
Conte bitching is not professional and may do more damage than good.
Inter need reinforcement but reading between the Conte rants, their directors are not of that opinion. Unfortunately for Conte and Inter, he has a history of being fobbed off by club sporting directors and it appears that he has just about had enough.
The Juve board (during Conte's term) refused to invest and were actually preparing to sell off his best players...he was distraught and left.
Chelsea also refused to invest.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 9:55am
The truth is Inter lack depth. Losing Nainggolan is a bigger blow than first thought. When your bench consist of Vecino and an aging Valero then there's not much you can do. Lautaro and Lukaku have played almost every match with Politano barely fit and Alexis suffering an unlucky injury.

Inter have done very well in the transfer window but as expected it's not so easy to clear all of the dead wood in the squad. I hope they're not just rushing for a quick fix in January. It has to be long term.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 9:35am
Conte is such a winner so I don't know what he would be like if he had to curb his bitter sore loser characteristics. His drive to win and in spite him praising his players is complaining about things not being good enough will have a negative effect after awhile. Inter blamed problems on the Icardi/Wanda circus. Having to battle clear out last season trouble makers I don't get why the coach gets stir up similar negatives in public. Direct it to owners and mangement behind closed doors.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 9:10am
Conte ripping his squad post match was unprofessional. saying they have not won anything as an excuse as to why his one dimensional coaching style failed them in the match. If you dont have enough depth, maybe you should know more than just one formation which happens to be the hardest formation (cardio and physical wise) in the game of calcio? And have the openness to change tactics ,id game especially when you can see your side starting to fumble a lead. Man needs to show more self reflection.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 9:04am
December is coming...
on the 6th November, 2019 at 8:45am
on the 6th November, 2019 at 2:58am
Dear Conte you are pulling us or we are pulling you??? What are your excuses? this squad arent enough sufficient enough to pull through??!. Untill every single match including this one we played like unwavering BEAST. This team played wednesday saturday tues day games along with long streches marathon of games and you didnt flinch a bit to give a fresh air to my team by keeping same players torturously on the pitch. Your failure list... here it goes
on the 6th November, 2019 at 2:47am
European sides e.g. Liverpool) play a very physical, dynamic, fast paced game. Meanwhile Italian teams are too lightweight, tactically rigid and slow. The number of misplaced passes in Serie A is really unbelievable from a top tier league. It's going to be another bad week for Italian teams in Europe and probably another bad year. But let's keep telling ourselves how tactically superior we are.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 1:40am
Football (and sport and life generally) is full of mysteries. One of those mysteries is why is Conte so good domestically and so poor in Europe. We may never know the answer but my guess is Conte is very good at motivating his teams to give 100% in those run-of-the-mill league matches where the likes of Milan struggle to beat that newly promoted team. That's the key to winning championships. In Europe he, and increasingly most Italian managers, lack the tactical nouse. Increasingly the top
on the 6th November, 2019 at 1:37am

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