Before becoming a Sports Journalist for Free Super Tips, Aaron spent three years studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland while taking in the Black Cats' 'glory years' under Martin O'Neill. Now back in Northern Ireland he turns niche stats into predictions for FST, while he's one of the few people on this island who is equally comfortable at Windsor Park and the Aviva.
Saturday afternoon brought a simply stunning victory for Inter Milan, putting their title chances out in the open. A six match winning run saw it whispered, but with number seven the Nerazzurri reached new heights. On the eve of a defining clash with Barcelona in Europe, Inter are in outstanding shape.
Luciano Spalletti used the depth of his squad to continue a fantastic run. Their 5-0 win over Genoa showed just how talented this Inter side is, and they should even worry a Barca side who are among the favourites for the European Cup. However, could they also trouble Juventus down the line? Serie A has been a closed shop for years, but with the Nerazzurri on the top, they’ll be aiming to challenge. With their fantastic season continuing, we’re asking just how far Inter can go this season.
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In fact, the Grifone were seconds away from claiming a 1-1 draw at the San Siro on Wednesday night, as they lost to a late Milan strike. Meanwhile, they have form in shocking big sides who have their focus elsewhere. Genoa are the only side to avoid defeat against the champions this season, after Juve rotated players ahead of their Old Trafford trip. They claimed a 1-1 draw in Turin, but they couldn’t get close to a much-changed Inter here.
You’d think the looming visit of Barcelona – who are potentially reloaded with Lionel Messi – would distract Luciano Spalletti’s team. However, from start to finish they dominated Genoa. They created chances from the off, and they could really have decimated Genoa in this one. They continued their winning run in some style, and in many ways the Nerazzurri laid down a marker in this weekend’s victory.
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Inter’s Squad Game
For years, this Inter side has been looked upon as a one man team. Even with their displays in recent weeks, people still see them as Mauro Icardi and a supporting cast. Not only was the Argentine singled out, but he still received criticism. The forward is a lethal finisher, but he’s not an all rounded striker. He finds chances for himself, and regularly gets Inter out of tricky situations. However, when things went wrong the questions were all about what Icardi wasn’t doing.
The lethal forward has played a key role in Inter’s charge for top spot. The criticism has disappeared, along with the need for him to carry the club on his shoulders. Spalletti is starting to fix that, to the point that he was able to rest their star man and captain for Saturday’s thumping victory.
A 5-0 win for Inter without Icardi is almost unthinkable in recent seasons. However, moves in the transfer window have started to change things. We covered how their obsession with playing a 4-2-3-1 to support Icardi is disappearing, after a 4-3-3 approach at Lazio on Monday. They kept faith with that system, playing Lautaro Martinez as their central striker. Outcast Joao Mario played again, impressed again, even scoring the best goal of the five. The Portuguese playmaker had his name chanted by the home faithful, proof of the strength in depth at their disposal.
In the engine room, they were without Matias Vecino, a man who has starred in recent months. Inter were also without summer signing Radja Nainggolan, the man identified to fill their number 10 role. The cult hero scored the fifth, but Inter flowed without him. Weeks ago the Italian press claimed that he was more important to the club than Messi is to Barca, which shows how this side are developing and maturing.
Spalletti Needs Staying Power
Inter feel like Antonio Conte’s Chelsea from 2016/17. The Blues had a wobble at the start, but a brilliant winning run was followed by consistency. The task for Inter is to turn their great streak into sustained form. Last season’s showed how high the bar is in Serie A. Napoli racked up 91 points last term, yet Juventus had the title wrapped up before the end of the campaign.
One defeat could make or break Inter’s season now. A setback could show what kind of spirit is behind them. Would it derail everything, or will the Nerazzurri keep themselves in the hunt for the Scudetto?
They certainly have what it takes to trouble Juventus this season. Inter have the squad to rotate and win games. They’re finding other ways of playing, and that has put them in the mix for top spot. Saturday’s win shows that they can launch a title challenge, and it only adds to our excitement for December’s Derby d’Italia. That trip to Juve next month could be a mammoth tie, especially if Inter keep their title mission rolling.
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