This season is beginning to have a repetitive feeling for those of the Nerazzurri persuasion and the team once again produced a display that was full of mistakes and lacked a killer instinct.
So much was expected of Inter this season but despite showing character, they have lacked quality in key areas of the pitch. Conte explained that “a coach can only do so much” but as they languish in seventh place, he has to fix these issues quickly.
There is no getting away from the fact that the Nerazzurri have won only one game in their last eight matches. It is true that Inter have had players who tested positive for Covid, just as other teams have in the league and it is understandable that in these circumstances they are tired. In the game against Atalanta however, both teams played at an impressive pace and whilst the away side did show a determination to win the game they looked sloppy both in attack and in defence and what is more they look at shadow of themselves last term.
In normal circumstances, a draw in Bergamo against Atalanta would not have been a bad result but without the raucous home support and the fact that they had just come back of a thrashing at the hands of Liverpool, the side from Bergamo looked like they could be got at.
So what is going wrong with Inter? Conte bemoaned the fact that they have not been clinical enough and this is true. Marco Sportiello may have made two good saves but that was all he was asked to do and this has been a similar story all season long. The lack of creativity leads into the argument about Christian Eriksen and his lack of game time as Conte is under fire for not using him more often.
It seemed like the Inter juggernaut of last season also only seems to operate when Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez and on the pitch together, something that has not happened in recent weeks due to Lukaku’s injury.
Defensively it is arguable to say that Inter looked better with what would be thought to be the ideal back three. Milan Skriniar was a welcome return to the squad as he partnered Stefan De Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni. This was the defence that with Diego Godin (now of Cagliari) looked so rock solid last term. Even so, they could not prevent an equaliser from Aleksey Miranchuk but overall there seemed to be more stability and calm throughout the game and especially compared to the make shift defence Conte started the season with.
Taking all this into account, one may feel that, with Lukaku and Martinez back up from together up front, the former with seven goals in his last eight and the latter hitting two for two that this and the defence being back together, Inter may hit some form. This is where Conte will not be so sure and why his words about his strikers really do ring true. Inter are creating chances, they simply are not finishing them at the rate they should.
Take Zlatan Ibrahimović (eight goals in 16 chances), Cristiano Ronaldo (six goals in 12 chances) and even Andrea Belotti (six goals in 12 chances), they all have a 50% contribution. Now let us look at Romelu Lukaku (five goals in 16 chances) he has a 31% contribution, meanwhile Lautaro (four goals in 16 chances) and 25%. Conte is right; his strikers are not clinical enough.
Inter simply are not looking as efficient as they were last term and there are reasons for this. The main reason is that last term they managed to keep the starting eleven solid for most of the campaign. This season, injuries and COVID have not allowed that and the substitutes that Conte shouted so loudly for are not stepping up to the plate either.
He knows this and this is why many thought him less animated on the touchline. He may have told those who mentioned this to ‘lay of the wine’ but his team at present are ugly. In the morning, his critic’s heads will be clear but his team shall remain ugly.