Inter took on Chievo Verona in a match that was (surprisingly) first versus second in the league table. Both sides had high-flying starts to the season and neither had suffered a loss yet (though Chievo was two points back due to a draw against Juventus). Inter came into the match hoping to continue their perfect start and put further distance between themselves and those they would expect to be their rivals come the end of the season.
Mancini started the same attack and midfield that lined up against Milan last week, with Perisic getting a second chance to impress while Melo was seeking to put on another dominate performance. With Miranda still injured Medel was placed in the heart of the defense again with Murillo, while the injury to JJ sustained last week kept him out and allowed Telles to get his first start in an Inter jersey.
The game did not start particularly well for either side, but Inter were especially sluggish. Chievo was keeping possession and trying to impose themselves on the match but luckily they were not able to threaten Handanovic much in the first half, though they did have a few through balls that caused the defense to scramble at first.
Just as halftime was approaching Inter took the lead. Kondogbia sent in a cross that Icardi got to, touched the ball past Chievo's keeper, and poked into the back of the net. Just like that last season's capocannoniere was off the mark for the new campaign. Chievo tried to immediately respond but Handanovic was on his toes to deny Birsa's volleyed attempt. The ref ended the first half with no extra time and Inter leading 1-0.
The second half began with the impression that Mancini had told the players to stop Chievo mainly by slowing down the game and controlling the ball. We saw Kondogbia showing off his great ball control with a number of strong runs and neat passes and flicks. This attempt to go into cruise control for a majority of the second half did come with its risks though, at one point Telles lost possession and Paloschi almost made him pay with a goal but was unable to keep his shot down.
Throughout the rest of the game Chievo tried to get a goal but never really threatened Inter, mainly due to Inter imposing themselves through calm and assured possession. Perisic and later Palacio were used as options on the break to make sure Chievo didn't commit too many men forward and Perisic even had a chance late on but took too long to either play a pass to an open Icardi or take a shot himself. In the end Inter cruised to a 1-0 victory.
In the 70th minute Murillo had to come off with what looked like a thigh injury and was replaced by Ranocchia. Mancini will hope it is nothing serious otherwise he will be left with 3 starting defenders injured. Rano played fairly well and didn't make any mistakes which should do well for his confidence. Guarin on the other hand was not able to replicate his good performance in the Milan Derby in this match and was largely invisible. Perisic was also very quiet for a majority of the match, though towards the end he became more involved when his speed was used on the counter. One player I have to pick out for praise is Medel, he has had two great games as a CB and is really showing that he can be a good option there, his positioning is amazing and he heads surprisingly well.
This was another match that was not exactly inspiring to watch but it was effective. Mancini got his win and is still at the top of the table with maximum points. There will be a time when a more controlling style of play will be asked of the team but for now, we can take joy in the fact that this team can grind out wins and that they have a nice gap over our rivals. Next up is Hellas Verona on Wednesday.
Rival Watch (numbers are the point differential between that side and Inter)
- Milan (-6) chugged out a 3-2 victory over Palermo thanks to a Bacca double.
- Juventus (-8) got their first win of the season against Genoa with a 2-0 scoreline.
- Roma (-4) fell back a bit thanks to a 2-2 draw against Sassuolo.
- Fiorentina (-3) moved into third place with a 1-0 victory over Carpi.
- Napoli (-7) thrashed Lazio (-6) 5-0 in the final game of the round.