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Tuesday December 8 2020
Redemption or rejection for Inter

Inter have an opportunity to show they have learned from their mistakes against Shakhtar, even if the Nerazzurri’s Champions League destiny is not completely in their hands, writes Richard Hall.

Antonio Conte would argue that neither he nor his team need redemption. After all, they sit second in the Serie A table, five points behind Milan and they have only lost once. They are free scoring that is for sure and whilst they have conceded too many, they have had a recent uplift in their defensive performance. The Champions League could offer a recovery that if it happens, would wash away the memories of the terrible early games. So, the question is, are Inter back to what they were last season, or is there another banana skin lying around the corner?

Perhaps the reason that the Nerazzurri are so hard to judge this campaign, is that their ‘Pazza’ nature sees them jump from superb to dismal in the space of a minute. This inconsistency of performance means that the beleaguered fan has little idea of just what Inter will turn up. Even in their last Champions League match to Borussia Monchengladbach, they nearly threw it away, however, in the league there are signs of improvement.

Going into the game against Shakhtar Donetsk, there are many different outcomes depending on what happens in the other game in the group but Inter have to focus only on one thing. They need to beat the Ukrainians and then pray that the other results help them out. The worst-case scenario if they do win will be that they look forward to a Europa League campaign after feeling unlucky not to qualify. The spin on this if they lose to Shakhtar, will be very different and it will be deemed another disastrous European campaign from Conte.

If one was not used to Inter, then one may think these extreme emotions bizarre. The emotions are extreme, however, because the levels of performance from the team are also. The coach creates a lot of energy and tension and this is why fans of the Nerazzurri feel Conte is one step away from brilliant and one step away from being unwanted at the club. Take this scenario for instance. With Arturo Vidal out of action and, potentially, Nicolo Barella too, Conte has an issue in midfield. Like him or loathe him, Roberto Gagliardini will start alongside the excellent Marcelo Brozovic but then who?

This is where the question of Christian Eriksen arises again. Does Conte do what would seem the obvious and play him? Does he send a message and play the even less favoured Stefano Sensi or will we see Ivan Perisic or someone else awkwardly sat in the middle? If Conte relents on his Eriksen exclusion campaign and Inter win against Donetsk and qualify, he will be seen as Conte the magnificent. If Inter crash out in embarrassing style, thanks to a strange midfield pick by the mister, then there will be more than just a little discontent.

One has to acknowledge the importance of Shakhtar’s visit to Milan as it is a chance for the black and blue half of the city to reignite what could still be a promising season. If the Ukrainians are sent home with their tails between their legs, then irrespective to what happens elsewhere it can still be seen as improvement. Before the year ends there are multiple chances to build on this. They have a trip to Sardinia next where they should be able to see off Cagliari before they face an opportunity to get a statement win against Napoli. Spezia and Verona are also both winnable games that could allow Inter to see of 2020 in style.

The form of Romelu Lukaku, the continued development of Achraf Hakimi, the majestic nature of Marcelo Brozovic and the slow improvement of the defence has been evident against Sassuolo and Bologna. There is growing confidence around the team, but it is a cautious kind of optimism.

Inter’s season will certainly not be concluded tomorrow but it will be shaped. The various different sub plots and story lines that come out of this game will have them in the headlines that is for sure but for what reason? Redemption often comes after rejection but for Inter, there is a feeling that they have an opportunity to show that they have learned from their mistakes, but it would not be the Nerazzurri if they did not want to make their fans beat just a little bit quicker.

Have your say...
Inter simply need a coach like Allegri to take over from Conte next season regardless of whether he (Conte) wins the scudetto or not.
on the 11th December, 2020 at 6:15am
Conte is a robot, devoid of imagination. Almost always 352, 3 industrial central midfielders and virtually no plan b. You could argue that he has done a fine job in getting the best out of Lukaku, Barella and Bastoni, but is this a case of the players developing, in spite, and not because of him?
on the 10th December, 2020 at 3:33pm
Inter's total elimination from Europe is not good for Milan's title chances. Although I still think that, realistically, Milan won't win the title and that the ultimate goal is a top 4 finish. Having said that we're in 1st at the moment and our chances of taking the title are greater if the competition is playing on multiple fronts. Inter can now focus on Serie A, and it's bad news for Milan (and the other clubs vying for 1st).
on the 10th December, 2020 at 2:29pm
@ Marco Branco - No it must have been Moratti, he is behind everything negative that happens Juventus. Two fantastic players though. Hard to blame the anyone for wanting them.
on the 10th December, 2020 at 11:22am
Damn! This Inter team under Conte is so pathetic, it's almost inexplicable! Each & every time they "only" have to win on the home turf, with even one goal difference, THEY CAN'T DO IT! THEY CHOKE! It happened last year with Barcelona B team, this year with Shahktar & in MANY Serie A games!
Instead of starting attacking like crazy from da 1st min, Inter were cautious & tactical as if they're playing the finale! What's wrong with Conte?! Spending so much & 0 results! And eventually, FFP will come
on the 10th December, 2020 at 10:59am
Conte get the funk out of Inter and stop spoiling the team! Make space for someone who knows how to get the best out of players .You should get an aword for making Inter a laughing stock having such players at your disposal .What team did you coach well? Your coaching career is one big overrated hype. Quit footbal and play with your grandchildren. You have damaged poor Eriksen's talent and many other players' confidence -you are a master at this
on the 10th December, 2020 at 10:07am
Football is so strange. How can Conte be such a good manager in the league but so terrible in Europe? It doesn’t make any sense. The differences between domestic and European football are not so great these days and Conte has won titles in two different leagues. But his teams always struggle in Europe. It shows that when the media and fans arbitrarily rate managers and players it’s all pretty meaningless. Is Conte a good or bad manager? How can someone who has won as many titles as him be bad?
on the 9th December, 2020 at 11:05pm
man this season is going to the toilet even worse than last years in terms of expectations and squandered opportunities. Inter totally imploded again in CL, yes it was a semi tough group but in the end they should have qualified for next round. i mean Real was literally out of it early on,and came back. they have only the league and coppa to look for any silverware. even funnier the real blue&black is Atalanta ! qualified twice on very 1st-2nd attempts. this is whatll end Conte reign. very sad.
on the 9th December, 2020 at 10:41pm
@I miss Luciano Moggi @ Juventus: Luis Suarez went to the Alvaro Recoba school of how Uruguayans become an Italian Citizen and the results prove it !
on the 9th December, 2020 at 5:53pm
I'm sure the toupet tactician will pull another Galatasaray...
on the 9th December, 2020 at 5:31pm
Why has Barella's playing time been reduced? Is his form off? I really hope Conte isn't destroying the kid's confidence... He's a starlet.. Conte has to go.
on the 9th December, 2020 at 10:50am
Of course the season Inter won the CL (2010) they had gone 377 days (22 Oct 2008 - 4 Nov 2009) without winning a match in the CL. How kind of Marco Branca to remind us of such a positive precedent.
on the 9th December, 2020 at 8:08am
I dont care if Inter go thru or not but Massimo Moratti definitely told Agnelli and Patricci that Luis Suarez was Italian - what other explanation can there be to them thinking he was?
on the 9th December, 2020 at 8:01am
No Vidal may be a blessing in disguise, but no Barella may be a nail in the coffin. People disrespect Shaktar, but the fact is, they've taken 7 points from this group, whilst Inter have only taken 5. Question is, does Inter want to play in Europa?
on the 9th December, 2020 at 7:39am
Good luck tonight. It’d be great to see all the Italian teams go through.
on the 9th December, 2020 at 7:23am
Besides it isn’t all conte to blame, Eriksen doesn’t want to be there under conte and his clear lack of effort and comments show that. He’s gone in Jan regardless of tomorrow and he knows that, why would he do anything to take pressure off conte. While a failed move, inter will still make money and likely will swap for someone who can assist, can’t have any major regrets about that. Also @branca - does that mean inter were also undefeated in CL for lyk 350 days? Haha a long break goes both ways
on the 9th December, 2020 at 3:01am
Shakhtar played for the draw the first time and will be even more determined this time. A point sees them go to Europa league at a minimum, something they will be more than pleased with. Inter will create a ton of chances like last time. Must score. Yes midfield is an issue - would go sensi, I think he’s much better suited to conte tactics, only issue is his lack of match fitness. But it has to start somewhere! Eriksen won’t track back meaning inter are even more at risk to a quick counter.
on the 9th December, 2020 at 2:55am
@inter - agreed you guys could easily be sitting top and well clear of us if you put away chances, I would say you are playing the best in Italy at the moment. However after watching our game today and signs in recent performances, Pirlo is slowly getting his team together and you will regret not having a bigger lead by now! I think we will win again with inter in second with a huge amount of daylight to the chasing pack.
on the 8th December, 2020 at 10:43pm
Change in formation has certainly helped but I think inter have been creating many goal scoring chances since the beginning of the season. I don’t see a massive difference between losing to Milan and most of our wins like bologna, we dominated both games, one we scored 3 of our chances, the other we missed easy chances to score at least 3. Common issue is defense, although at this stage of season with almost a full strength back line, we should not be conceding so many goals!
on the 8th December, 2020 at 10:40pm
When you take 370 days to win a game in CL then you deserve to get kicked out! The question remaining is whether they will miss out on EL !
on the 8th December, 2020 at 8:08pm
Think Real will win because there is too much pressure on them to risk going out. Regardless up to inter to win and either go through or out with head held high. Results have turned around lately and the team is playing well. It does help not having so many players out though. In Jan eriksen can be sold and replaced with someone functional to the team, trying to include an AM has had a negative impact on the squad. Back to 3-5-2 and we look very good again.
on the 8th December, 2020 at 7:58pm
They will probably go out of Europe all together and then focus on Serie A, and it might be better for them too, as I think otherwise they will miss both on a lengthy CL run and the Scudetto.

Conte is a special in picking up points in the league, specially against the weaker sides, but throw in another commitment like Europe and he will chock.
on the 8th December, 2020 at 3:14pm

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