Crazy Inter were fantastic but defensively atrocious. That sums it all up. In Germany, Inter showed signs of individual brilliance, signs of comprehensive team movement and signs of commitment.
They served all this with a huge side of defensive frailty, more than one mental switch off and a huge bit of luck. This was ‘Pazza’ Inter, unashamed and in full view, they were perhaps so crazy that it defied all logic and at the end of all this, Borussia Monchengladbach will have been scratching their heads just as much. Even so, Inter are still in the Champions League, just.
This was not a night for the analysts. There were so many different ways this group could have turned out, that after all the theories had been hashed out, one thing remained the same. Inter could not lose. Antonio Conte had said at the beginning of his tenure that he wanted to rid Inter of their Pazza nature, the truth is, they have been more crazy in this second season with him than ever before.
It is impossible to know what you are going to get. Before the game, I was speaking with Football Italia’s Giancarlo Rinaldi. Our explanation of Inter was this. They are like a restaurant serving truffles at a very cheap price. Sometimes you go in and the price has gone up, sometimes you go in and they are out of stock but every so often you get them, so you keep going back.
As soon as the news filtered through that Real Madrid has lost to Shakhtar Donetsk, Beppe Marotta said he would have to go and work out all the various permutations. Knowing they had a slender chance, seemed to have been enough, as Inter came out and controlled the first 30 minutes of the game.
Matteo Darmian got on the score sheet and continued his good form; he is arguably Conte’s best signing of the last window. Then it just all got out of hand. Inter conceded a goal in stoppage time of the first half, defensively it was a disaster as Alassane Plea was unmarked. The second half saw a majestic Romelu Lukaku take Inter to three goals up before Plea struck again.
The game was so back and forth that it felt as though the Nerazzurri were capitulating and when Plea’s equaliser was ruled out for offside by VAR. All hearts stopped.
Conte spoke after the game and tried to focus on the positives. Lukaku certainly had a performance that warranted the praise. The ‘mister’ said that the team were all taking more collective responsibility and none more than the Belgian forward who dragged Inter to this win. Marcelo Brozovic and Darmian also came in for praise and both were impressive whilst Nicolo Barella continued to be ‘’Mr consistent’.
This united front, that Conte spoke of does have some merit, there was a never say die attitude in the squad and they certainly fought for each other but they certainly cannot go on like this.
At the moment, Inter seem to be working on a policy of outscoring the opposition. Even now, with the first choice defence of Milan Skriniar, Alessandro Bastoni and Stefan De Vrij, set up in front of Samir Handanovic, they are still leaking goals.
Conte must now move to fix this issue as so far he has seemingly only tried to sure up the midfield. His preference for midfielders with a defensive aspect to their game like Brozovic and Barella is understandable but it is not enough. Stefano Sensi and Christian Eriksen have been sacrificed for this but the problem clearly sits elsewhere.
Last night, Conte went to the restaurant and they served the truffle, however, next time it may not be on the menu. This game of chance he is playing is not a long-term solution and Inter cannot and will not be successful with a stratagem that feels like Zdenek Zeman has created it after a few glasses of wine.
Lukaku may be in the form of his life but Inter have already seen what happens when he is absent. This was a night for drama and it was a night that produced entertainment but not in the right way for Inter. Conte needs to find a solution and quickly because whilst this side of Pazza tastes good, the other does not.