I try to be optimistic when it comes to Inter. I try to look at the positives even after a poor result, usually by pointing to the big picture. After this match though, it’s hard to be optimistic and find even a hint of a silver lining. Napoli took Inter to school today and thoroughly outdid the Nerazzurri all over the pitch.
Stefano Pioli stuck with the side that beat Fiorentina 4-2 on Monday. Samir Handanovic was “protected” by Cristian Ansaldi, Miranda, Andrea Ranocchia, and Danilo D’Ambrosio. Geoffrey Kondogbia and Marcelo Brozovic were in the double pivot, while Mauro Icardi was backed up by Antonio Candreva, Ever Banega, and Ivan Perisic.
The home side took the lead almost immediately. Jose Callejon headed the ball back near the center of the box and the onrushing Piotr Zielinski stuck and scored after 2 minutes. They were up two goals by the 6th minute. Ranocchia had stepped up and Marek Hamsik gratefully slipped into the space left open. Zielinski played a through ball for the Napoli captain (with Miranda keeping him onside) who put the ball in the back of the net. Manolo Gabbiadini had two chances before Icardi tried to capitalize on a mistake from the Napoli defense but Pepe Reina came out quickly to save his effort. The Inter captain had another chance in the 34th minute which was also stopped by the onrushing Reina which was followed up by a Handanovic save on Gabbiadini after Inter’s centerbacks got in each other’s way. The last major event of the half was Ever Banega going down holding his knee towards the end of the half; though he stayed through the final whistle he would not take party in the second half, being replaced by Eder.
Napoli was cruising and got their third goal six minutes after the restart. Handanovic punched the ball from a corner and when the ball was sent back into the center of the box Lorenzo Insigne was able to increase the home side’s lead. Candreva thought he had pulled one back in the 68th minute but somehow Reina got an arm out to stop his shot in what looked to be an easy tap-in. Neither side got another shot on target after the 70th minute and the game kind of just petered out just to the delight of the home fans.
Now that I’ve given you the facts of the match, let me explain how play actually commenced. It’s quite simple actually, Napoli dominated. Everywhere. Raul Albiol and Kalidou Koulibaly manhandled Icardi, especially in the air. Amadou Diawara and the other Napoli midfielders were all over the pitch denying space and passing options to the Inter players. In possession they always knew where their teammates were or should be and could pick each other out no matter how hard Inter tried to press early on in the match. Plus their front three was more than willing to run at Inter’s “defense” on the counter time and time again. In short, Inter was made to look exceedingly mortal today, but it wasn’t just because Napoli was so good...
Outside of Handanovic (and maybe Brozovic if I want to be mildly generous) the Inter players were trash today. Miranda’s confidence looked shot today, and Ranocchia tried to be helpful but often ended up doing more harm than good. For a few minutes here and there it looked like Kondogbia would be an asset but then he would end up jogging back when Napoli was on the counter to make me remember how much money the club wasted. Eder was typical Eder in an Inter jersey, so nonexistent; while Icardi and Perisic both wasted chances galore. Oh and Rodrigo Palacio played today. I’d like to avoid throwing my laptop against a wall in rage so I’m just going to point everybody back to this article.
Lastly, I turn my focus to Pioli. I don’t really want to blame him too much, when you arrive at a new club midseason and your first three matches are against AC Milan, Fiorentina, and Napoli a high point total isn’t exactly going to be expected. Plus conceding two goals in the first six minutes generally means your gameplan is going to be thrown out the window so I really just have one question for him (and I guess Frank De Boer too): what did Gabriel Barbosa do to hurt you so badly that you refuse to play him and will play the useless pair of Jovetic and Palacio over him? Does he show up to training hungover? Does he show up to training late? Does he not try in training? Did he insult you personally? Did he sleep with your wife? For the life of me I don’t understand and I’m sick of hearing this “he isn’t ready for Italian football” bullshit excuse because looking at the players on the pitch today it looked like none of them really knew what they were doing out there. At this point I won’t blame him if he decides to leave the club in January.
Anyways next up is the useless final EL match against Sparta Prague before Inter hosts Genoa (who can overtake their opponents if they win on Monday).