There will be no billowing smoke from the flares rising up from the Curva this time. There will be no guttural roars as the teams take to the pitch, no huge tifos taunting the opposition but it will still be the Derby Della Madonnina. The season is well underway now and the transfer window has banged shut, Antonio Conte knows that he has had the backing of the owners and now it is down to him to prove that their faith was justified. Inter have started well but they still have issues to iron out and will be mindful of these before taking on the Rossoneri.
Speaking to DANZ, Conte professed that he was happy with his team’s performance against Lazio. He noted that his team had lost this fixture last season and felt overall that his men out performed the Romans. He claimed that the home side actually scored when Inter were playing some of their best football of the game but did not seem worried about this fact. It is true that the Nerazzurri were dominating when Serj Milinkovic-Savic scored but this is an issue with this seasons Inter.
The fact that the football the Nerazzurri has displayed has looked chaotic is not simply down to them. The lack of a pre-season and the mentality/urgency of the players without fans is certainly all to blame but Conte seems to have embraced the chaos. His team attacks with purpose but perhaps with little regard for their own safety. The opening game saw them concede three, score four. The second game they conceded twice, scored five and finally the 1-1 draw with Lazio. One could argue that they were better defensively against Le Aquile but the goal came when they were over committed up the pitch, it will be something they have to address against Milan.
In the interview, Conte did touch on one of the problems. He praised Achraf Hakimi and the prodigal son, Ivan Perisic and rightly so to some extent. Hakimi for one has been electric and made all of Serie A sit up and take note, his goals and assists have been welcome from wide positions. Perisic too has been excellent going forward and has look at home in the cavalier approach but this is not the issue. The ‘mister’ acknowledged the fact that both players have to improve defensively and this is evident. It is arguable if Perisic will ever be able to convert to a wing back and therefore can you play him when Hakimi is in the other side? For a coach who seems obsessed with wingbacks this is a dilemma for him.
Defensive issues do not stop there. Alessandro Bastoni has tested positive for COVID-19 and will have a retest. The same goes for Milan Skriniar who, with a second positive swab, will have to remain in Slovakia for two weeks. With Diego Godin (last year’s dependable replacement) now in Sardinia, Conte will have to come up with another solution. Samir Handanovic will also have to be on form as whilst his shot stopping is never in doubt his ability to play out from the back (as with many goalkeepers recently) is being painfully exposed.
Perhaps the goalkeeper can train as an outfield player as Conte tries to solve another headache. He has only eight players available to train this week. Italy’s pink paper pointed out that Andrea Ranocchia, Matteo Darmian, Roberto Gagliardini, Radja Nainggolan and Ashley Young will be accompanied by the goalkeepers, Handanovic, Ionut Radu and Daniele Padelli a frustration as the time on the training pitch has been limited. The other players face coming back from International duty jaded but especially the South Americans, Lautaro Martinez, Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez may not get back to Milan until two days before the Derby.
There is no doubt that despite all of this Inter will still be confident even though they will be facing a Milan side in good form themselves. They are scoring goals and will hope to overwhelm their opponents and they have the firepower to do so. There are however, elements that still need improvement and if they can do this then the Derby could be a statement of intent. Conte has made it clear that the Scudetto must be in Inter’s sights and with Genoa and Parma on the horizons the Nerazzurri have the chance to show what they are made of.
Words Richard Hall
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