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Monday December 14 2015
Inter ready to lead

After a 4-0 away win at Udinese was coupled with those around them losing ground, Varun Mathure says Inter should embrace becoming protagonists in the title race.

The headline on Monday morning across all papers in the peninsula were about how Juventus were back to their best following their sixth successive League win – this one the most impressive of the lot against bitter rivals Fiorentina. Inter Coach Roberto Mancini will have had a wry smile to himself upon reading it.

The results from the weekend meant that his Inter side had quietly claimed the winter title a round earlier than expected with a four-point cushion over the chasing pack. This is the first time since the treble winning 2009-10 season under Jose Mourinho that the Nerazzurri will go into the New Year top of the Serie A table.

Victory at Stadio Friuli was one of the team’s more impressive performances of the season, but they still allowed a few too many chances to the hosts in the first-half. Once more it was the efficiency that saw the team through as twice Mauro Icardi and Stevan Jovetic pounced on defensive errors by Maurizio Domizzi to give the Serpenti a two-goal lead going into the break.

The second half saw a characteristic Mancini performance as Inter effectively smothered out any chances of a fightback with the defensive partnership of Joao Miranda and Jeison Murillo keeping shots at Samir Handanovic’s goal to a minimum. Icardi capitalised on another error, before substitute Marcelo Brozovic rounded off the rout late on.

It was the first time this season that both Jovetic and Icardi were on the scoresheet in the same game, and the Argentine will have been particularly pleased with his double seeing as it came on the back of being dropped against Genoa. It was also Inter’s 11th clean-sheet of the season, a record in top five European leagues. All in all a very satisfying evening out.

However, despite the result, Mancini was reluctant to think about competing for the title. He again reiterated that the team’s main objective for this season was to qualify for the Champions League. This could very well be mind games and a way of keeping his squad grounded, given their points tally at this stage of the season is much higher than many would’ve predicted.

When the Nerazzurri were at or around the top of the table in November, critics repeatedly wrote them off as the team seemed to lack style and wasn’t imposing itself on opposition. At the time, Inter had scored just 11 times in 11 games and the win over Roma was seen as somewhat of a lucky result earned thanks to Handanovic’s heroics than a coherent game-plan.

Five weeks later Inter have now found the net a further 11 times and moved up to being the fourth most prolific team in the League. But, it isn’t just the goals that have now started flowing, the team is looking more and more at ease going forward. This was pretty evident against Genoa last week, and then again at Udinese too where after five minutes Ivan Perisic carved out a fantastic opportunity for Jovetic to open the scoring.

We have talked about here previously how this Inter side is far from being a finished product, but the last few weeks have shown that they are now inching closer to a state where they are equally comfortable attacking they are as defending. The increasing use of the 4-2-3-1 formation by Mancini, also shows his growing faith in the ability of the players to successfully execute and counter transitions.

Some have written about Inter’s lack of depth as compared to the likes of Napoli and Juventus, but given that Mancini has successfully fielded 16 different starting XIs in 16 games whilst using almost his entire squad goes to show that such arguments might in fact be baseless. With the transfer window coming up, it gives the Nerazzurri a chance to further bolster their ranks and potentially get rid of the lesser used players.

One word of caution for fans though, the last time Inter were four points clear at the Christmas break was back in 2001-02. Juventus at the time trailed them by six points going into the New Year. Not many will need be reminded of the ill-fated end to that campaign. Will history repeat itself or will Mancini write a new chapter in Inter’s history?

Have your say...
The team have improved going forward since Ljajic started playing but they still don't look a very cohesive unit upfront. I think Mancini is right in playing down their chances of winning the title. Right now, Juve are the favourites - they've got the history, players and momentum. As for players, Lavezzi and Motta might not be such a good idea particularly if they will be used as backup. Both players will come in expecting to start and if that doesn't happen they could end up being disruptive.
on the 19th December, 2015 at 4:41pm
Lets not get carried away. I see Juve charging up the table and I'm scared.

Inter are looking good, Napoli also but I have a feeling Juve will be taking the title ! I'm not Mystic Meg but I think if Inter can sustain the wins, they may have a chance but Juve are now looking a little more convincing.

Either way, Handanovic is looking good!
on the 18th December, 2015 at 8:34pm
Sure, we could get Lavezzi but will he offer something we don't have, or will he just add 5 million to our wage book? Absolutely money talks, but we can't afford to waste money right now. Those guys you mentioned have really high wage demands. I do like the idea of bringing Motta back if we could afford him, he would add a bit of quality to our physical midfield.
on the 17th December, 2015 at 4:38pm
@Interista, I know those facts, thats why i named some players in specific conditions like lavezzi who is surely move in this window (as his contract running out) most probably to barca!. And you can always lure over the thirty aged players. Money talks mate... FORZA !!!INTER MILANO!!! to The TITLE :>
on the 17th December, 2015 at 11:45am
I know those facts, thats why i named some players in specific conditions like lavezzi who is surely move in this window (as his contract running out) most probably to barca. And you can always lure over the thirty aged players. Money talks mate... FORZA !!!INTER MILANO!!! to The TITLE :>
on the 17th December, 2015 at 3:51am
@spirit_willy, you can hardly find players in January that can improve your team. usually january signings are desperation signings, unless you're planing for the future like we're doing by signing Calleri and sending him out on loan for 6 months. We may sign a couple players that will provide cover, but we're not gonna make any major signings in January. Except big signings in the summer once we qualify for the CL.
on the 16th December, 2015 at 7:16pm
So far so good!, but i'm sniffing some bad though. What mancini? Dont need any signings?!?. That was again below the top coaches should say. As sir alex ferguson always said you cant say no to signings that can upgrade your team. Its a whole new team compairing to last year and you say its complete!!. Whats harm in that by signing 32 years sniejder back, i'd even prefer thiago motta back. Try desperete to sign lavezzi & buy a proven old gun i mean striker. All three signings will be for backup. Its no summer that you should by top notch, its more like changing perelli tyerr middle through the race. No.... Absolutely no harm in that.........
on the 16th December, 2015 at 6:04am
So far so good. While others have Europe to focus on, we can concentrate on the league. Not even sure we need reinforcements! Very happy with the team. However last time we were doing this well, we dropped about 6-7 places by the end (mainly because of injuries but still!) so lets just keep focussing on one week at a time.
on the 15th December, 2015 at 5:35am
Our players should see themselves as leaders. Having said that, our main objective remains the Champions League. I'd prefer if we stay grounded, continue to take games one at a time and see where we end up at the end. It's still fairly early, we should not get too excited. Anyways, so far things are looking good, and hopefully Inter's play will continue to develop and become more fluid and quicker while remaining compact at the back
on the 14th December, 2015 at 11:44pm

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