Following the defeat against AC Milan, Inter hosted Chievo Verona today trying to bounce back and end a poor run of form. Due to Mancini's ban, Sylvinho was the one on the touchline for the match and he was hoping that the team would be able to pick up three points and ensure that they stayed in the race for the Champions League next season.
The team lined up in a 433 formation; once again Handanovic was in goal with Miranda and Murillo in front of him but on the flanks were Telles and Nagatomo. Kondogbia, Medel, and Brozovic made up the midfield and the front three were Eder, Icardi, and Palacio. Eder and Icardi played together at Sampdoria so there was some hope that they would be able to quickly form a partnership up front.
Inter started brightly in the match, forcing Chievo Verona's backup keeper Seculin into a couple of good saves early on. First a low cross from Icardi found Eder who was denied by Seculin, then Brozovic's low cross was fiercely struck by Icardi but the Chievo keeper parried it away. Kondogbia was the next Inter player to force a save out of Seculin though the shot did not make him too uncomfortable. The French midfielder had one of his best performances today. He was constantly available as a outlet for when Handanovic played the ball out of the back and drove forward to make sure Inter's possession was not bogged down between the midfielders and defenders. As a result the team spent most of its time in the final third, which allowed the home side to get more shots than usual in this match.
Inter kept pushing for a goal and for once a short corner nearly paid off. The ball was played to Brozovic at the corner of the box who tried to score one of his trademark goals but he was denied by Seculin and Kondogbia was just a second too late to tap in the rebound. The following corner reached Icardi but his header was just wide. When the halftime whistle was blown Inter had 72% possession, 16 shots, and 7 corners but the scoreline was still level.
Contrary to the first half, the second saw Inter take the lead almost immediately. A corner was not cleared and during the scramble Miranda was able to get the ball to Icardi (though it might have just been an attempted shot that was going wide) and the captain was able to poke the ball into the back of the net. He almost got his second goal about eight minutes later when his header came back off the crossbar.
At this point Chievo seemed to wake up and start pushing for a goal of their own. A mistake from Brozovic saw him give the ball away just in front of the area and forced Miranda to take down Inglese. The defender picked up a yellow card as a result which will suspend him for the weekend match against Hellas Verona. The away side was still susceptible on the break though and Icardi forced another good save out of Seculin. Before the match would end he would have to make two more great stops on consecutive corners from Miranda and Murillo.
The last ten or so minutes was...uncomfortable to say the least. Cheivo had the ball in our defensive third for a majority of that time and though they did not really test Handanovic, they were constantly pressuring the defense. Plus I think we all still have scars from the Carpi match so we were probably excessively nervous. Eventually the final whistle was blown and the team walked away with its tenth 1-0 victory of the season.
Compared to the last few matches, this was a massive improvement. The offense was playing fairly well and Kondogbia had a great showing today. Eder hasn't gotten a goal yet but has been linking up well so far and his first goal for the Nerazzurri will come soon enough. The only two issues I would have with the team looking at this game was the way they sat back in the final minutes and invited pressure plus the crossing. A majority of the crosses were really poor. Overall though this was a good first step in returning to form. Improvements are still needed, but right now I'll take this performance.