In a night that saw Inter prevail through toil rather than show, Antonio’s Conte’s men picked up another three points in Genoa. It was evident that there were as many positives as there were negatives but even so, they were victorious. What was clear is that there are players in this squad that the Nerazzurri simply cannot be without, if they are to be the best version of themselves. It was these players who made the difference again against the Grifone and will be crucial in the upcoming clash against Shaktar Donetsk on Tuesday.
The most important thing was the three points and secondly the clean sheet but there were negatives in this display that cannot be brushed over. Genoa are not a poor side, they are an inferior one and they are a tired one. On September 27th, the Grifone had announced that 22 positive cases of Covid had been identified amongst players and staff. Whilst they were getting players, back into the squad by late October this still would have taken its toll.
Rolando Maran approached the game with a plan, he wanted to sit back, keep Inter out on the wide areas and counter attack. The counter attacking did not come to pass but the ability to sit deep and infuriate the Nerazzurri worked. He challenged them to come through the middle and despite having Christian Eriksen in the squad, Conte’s men could not break through and were left with an abundance of inconsequential possession out on the flanks. Genoa had no chances but Inter were offering a slow, turgid and insipid display overall.
It was in the second half that Conte decided to change things, Eriksen and Ivan Perisic were brought on and Nicolo Barella and Achraf Hakimi came on. Immediately the difference was felt as their speed and positive running was in evidence. Hakimi has not been at the club long but his pace and power on the right flank is terrifying, it is often hard to establish one’s self in a new league and at an elite club but the Moroccan is instead redefining what it means to be a top class full back. He pulled Genoa out of their formation as all of a sudden, the flanks became a danger zone and this freed up more space in the center.
Freeing up space in the center was exactly what Genoa did not need. Nicolo Barella is improving with every second he spends in Milan and his forceful run and quick passing shocked Genoa. He was like a ballerina with a battering ram and his efforts were rewarded when his assist led to Romelu Lukaku’s superb opening goal. The Belgian once again allowing that he is perhaps the most indispensable out of them all.
Lautaro Martinez would also be classed as one of these players who cannot be missed but he had a poor night and his frustration was evident, however, whilst he was still beating up the Genoa furniture, Danilo D’Ambrosio was wheeling away in celebration. Once again, Barella had a part in it and the full back turned center back showed once again that he is a critical part of this squad.
Things are not perfect at Inter right now and frailties are on show for all to see however, Conte has players who can change games and who are in form. These are the men who should (if he can) be automatically in his first eleven, the men who will and can change games, not just like the one in Genoa but big games also. In the upcoming game against Shakhtar Donetsk, it would be hard to understand why, if they are available, that Lukaku, D’Ambrosio, Hakimi and Barella would not start. Include Martinez in this also, as despite a poor performance he is still certainly classed as one of Conte’s indispensable men.
The argument about Conte’s Inter certainly surrounds this rotation issue that is thrust on everyone due to the pandemic. When Inter are at full strength, when they have the full quota and they play these players who can change games, they look like title contenders. The issue is when the second string come in they can look stale and sluggish. The challenge for Conte still is how to get the right blend of the two to fulfil his Scudetto ambitions this season.