The international break came at a time when Inter needed to regroup. The Milan-based side was winless in the last three matches in all competitions, and though they played fairly well at times against AS Roma the team still walked away with no points. That most recent result left Inter in 9th place while the club’s previous match in the Europa League saw them at the bottom of Group K with no points after two matches.
It’s not all gloom and doom however. Despite the Nerazzurri sitting in a less-than-optimal position in the table the season has really just begun. In fact, the gap between 9th placed Inter and 3rd placed Roma is only 2 points. The Serie A table is extremely volatile right now which means it is incredibly important that Inter emerges from this international break ready to start a strong winning streak.
Lucky for Frank De Boer his team faces a favorable run of Serie A matches. From October 16th until November 6th, Inter takes on Cagliari, Atalanta, Torino, Sampdoria, and Crotone. This series of mid-to-lower table clubs presents a great opportunity for Inter to rack up a number of wins to propel the team back up the table. No match is an automatic victory though and the club will need to approach each game with the right tactics, lineup, and mentality in order to walk away with all three points.
Once again fortune has seemed to favor De Boer in those aspects. This international break has given the manager time to not only make any tweaks to his preferred lineup and tactics, but to help bring in some of his players he hasn’t truly been able to make full use of yet. Gabriel Barbosa has spent this break in Milan training and getting used to De Boer’s instructions so he will probably be getting some serious playing time in the coming months. Joao Mario played a large role for Portugal during the international break and he looked back in form so we can expect to see more of the Mario-Banega partnership that worked so well in the Derby D’Italia. Marcelo Brozovic also had a good international break and FdB has expressed his desire to see him back on the pitch for Inter. Geoffrey Kondogbia has had time to work with the coaching staff while Marco Andreolli is ready to return from his injury. In short, this international break quite possibly could have served to improve the squad, provided of course none of the last couple of players out on international duty today get injured (furiously knocks on wood).
There is one thing that could throw a wrench in this idea of Inter cruising to a nice winning streak: a pair of Europa League fixtures against Southampton (the first matchup comes between the Cagliari and Atalanta matches while the meeting in England is sandwiched between facing Sampdoria and Crotone). The Premier League side is leading Group K with 4 points and will absolutely rip Inter apart if the players perform the way they did against Hapoel Be'er Sheva and Sparta Prague. Inter cannot afford any more slip-ups if the club wants to advance beyond the group stage. If De Boer is willing to trust players like Stevan Jovetic, Gabriel Barbosa, and Geoffrey Kondogbia (partnered with J. Mario) for the Atalanta match then he could field a very strong lineup for the first crucial EL match on October 20th. If Inter cannot get a positive result from that game though, he should divert attention fully to the league and not risk tiring key players in the remainder of the EL group stage matches.
Inter can emerge from this international break looking rejuvenated and hungry for points. The upcoming Serie A games are winnable, while the players should be properly motivated to not lifelessly drift through at least the first of the two big Europa League matches (like they have done so far). If the Nerazzurri want to challenge for the Champions League places this season they need to win these upcoming fixtures, especially given that after Crotone Inter’s next Serie A opponents are AC Milan, Fiorentina, and Napoli.