Inter have not been consistent all season, but they are vastly improved. With the pandemic breaking up the football timetable, the focus has been on Serie A after the return. The Champions League and the Europa League have been almost dismissed as an after-thought, but now they are back and Inter have a huge chance to put Antonio Conte’s tenure on the map. A club with a long-standing love affair with what was the UEFA Cup, they can now use this competition as a springboard to show that both domestically and in Europe, they are serious contenders.
Getafe are not going to be easy. They finished eighth in La Liga and in Europe were Group C runners up to Ajax. Their best performance was back in 2007-08 when they reached the quarter-finals of the competition, there was no shame as they went out to Bayern Munich at that point. Victories against Trabzonspor and Krasnodar may not be a tale of giant-slaying; however, they have been impressive, especially on the counter and could cause the Nerazzurri problems.
Inter, as mentioned, enjoy this tournament, whether it’s called the UEFA Cup or Europa League. Winners in 1991, 1994 and 1998, this competition means a lot to the club. The memories of Ronaldo and Javier Zanetti in Paris against Lazio, Nicola Berti against Roma in 1991 and that man Berti again in 1994 in Vienna, all matter to the club and the fans. The tournament also will mean a lot to Antonio Conte but for a different reason. He has been often criticised for not having the ability to navigate European competition. Juventus memories are not all favourable and therefore the personal objective here is also worth noting.
For Inter, the importance of this competition should not be downplayed. The project under Suning is to win, to topple Juventus and bring the Milanese team into the forefront of European football, not just in Serie A. They have deep pockets and they have a blueprint. They are cultivating the crops; they have done this before, this time it is just in different fields. Beppe Marotta and Conte have improved Inter from the days of Luciano Spalletti, and to many, he did well. This is now an effort to make Inter stand out amongst Europe’s elite and it will not be an easy task.
If Inter could succeed in winning the Europa League, it would plant a flag in the ground. Ironically, it is almost a Juventus philosophy. Winning is all that matters. How many times has Conte gone to war against the media this season? He simply cannot understand why they ask him for performances, when the results are there. He does not understand ‘Pazza’, he does not need to: he is a winner.
When looking at the Europa League, Inter should take it seriously. Manchester United, Sevilla and Roma are arguably the main threats. These are one-off games, the structure and the nature of the tournament is different. This is an opportunity that could be game-changing for the Nerazzurri and with the squad, size and the quality they have, there are no excuses. The confidence a win against Getafe would give to the club, would be monumental.
Football is remembered through trophies and moments. Inter, after disappointing in the Champions League have a chance to write history. Second place to Juventus is an improvement. If they finish off the season as Europa League winners, then they will make the men in Turin take note.
Many people often dismiss the Europa League, but trophies and success cannot be overlooked. Inter’s involvement in this competition must not be belittled. Quite simply this could be the catalyst for Inter to fast forward the project they have talked so much about. Getafe is not just another game, it is not just the Europa League, and this is an opportunity to show how serious they are about toppling Serie A’s and European elite.
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