Out of the dark, comes light. This is certainly the case for Italy, as football returns after the awful pandemic that swept the globe starts to decline. It seems an age since the season had been played, but before the enforced break, things were not going right for Inter. The Nerazzurri are almost certainly out of the Scudetto race, barring a minor miracle, but they do have a chance to finish the season in a strong position. If they can overcome Napoli and finish in third spot, they can look to next season with confidence that they can be serious title contenders for the foreseeable future.
It had been going well. Unbeaten in Serie A for 16 games, the Nerazzurri had just dispatched Milan in the Derby Della Madonnina 4-2. The Coppa Italia first leg followed, as Inter hosted Napoli. The 1-0 defeat seemed to rock them and their sense of invincibility vanished overnight. The old feeling of capitulation suddenly crept into the minds of their fans. A ‘Walter Mazzarri like’ nightmare reappeared in the psyche. For the more positive, feelings were high still as Antonio Conte had seemingly banished Inter’s alter-ego for good. Then came Lazio. Beaten in Rome, they then fell in Turin (either side of two wins against Ludogorets in the Europa League). These performances were lacklustre, so even with an optimistic approach, it seemed as though Inter’s campaign was over.
The stoppage in play has perhaps helped. The Milanese club have had time to re-evaluate just how far they have come under Conte, and whilst the season is unlikely to end with a title, it can still end in relative success. If they can overhaul their 1-0 deficit and beat Napoli in the Coppa Italia (a tall order considering there is no extra time), then they can potentially still try to win some silverware. They seem almost guaranteed to finish in the Champions League spots and this in itself will equate to a good season.
Inter can then look positively to the summer and the next transfer window. The club’s revenue has doubled in three years under Suning, plus they’ll have the sales of players such as Mauro Icardi, Ivan Perisic, Joao Mario and more still to come. More importantly, they earned €152.7m in commercial revenue, three times as much as their local rivals Milan.
Therefore, Inter can look to the future with hope. Conte and Beppe Marotta seem to have the on and off field areas working well. The owners are certainly making a difference and they have a talented team. As previously mentioned, now they just have to finish the season strongly and that will start this weekend against Napoli.
Conte, it is reported, may now switch from his usual 3-5-2 formation to adopt a 3-4-1-2 so that he can accommodate Christian Eriksen in the trequartista role and add more creativity to his side. This is a crucial step and one that hopefully the weeks of intensive training will have allowed the team to hone far better than if they’d been playing every three days since the Dane’s arrival. Eriksen seemed out of place in the previous Inter team, so it was only right to create a new one with the former Tottenham star at its heart.
Alessandro Bastoni is expected to start at the back alongside Milan Skriniar and Stefan de Vrij, as Diego Godin is pushed further towards a summer exit. During the enforced break, Marotta has spoken of his and Conte’s ambition to win silverware and the Coppa Italia remains a closer ambition than the Europa League.
For Inter the world is bright however, they have to finish the campaign with force. If they lapse, then they can blame the break, still claim to have Champions League football and go again next campaign, but that would not showcase the hard work that is going on. Instead, they need to put down a mark of intent, win a piece of silverware and then have a strong transfer window. This will then be a message to Juventus that Inter are coming for them in 2020-21.