Inter started its USA tour by taking on Real Salt Lake in Utah. The match wasn't a particularly inspiring 90 minutes but at the death Stevan Jovetic stepped up to score an impressive goal and hand Mancini his first preseason win. There were some concerns to how the away side would deal with the altitude of playing at RSL's stadium but it looks like Mancini's early work paid off as the Inter players didn't look too winded out there.
The starting lineup was a little more serious than the sides Mancini started with in the prior friendlies but lining up with Ranocchia plus a midfield pairing of Felipe Melo and Geoffrey Kondogbia was always going to raise a few eyebrows. Luckily the former Inter captain didn't make any major mistakes but as one could expect the midfield was lacking any sort of creative spark. The home side started more brightly and took the lead in the 18th minute. A corner wasn't taken care of and the ball went into the back of the net off Jordan Allen. Palacio and Icardi linked up well in the following minutes while Inter searched for an equalizer and were able to find one a couple of minutes from halftime from a corner of their own. Caner Erkin sent a ball in deep and when D'Ambrosio found himself unmarked he was able to send in a powerful volley to level the scoreline.
Inter made a number of substitutions during the second half and both sides settled down and exchanged some chances. Olmar Holness, Olmes Garcia, and Danilo Acosta all had chances for RSL while Bakayoko and Jovetic made the home fans nervous a couple of times. In the final minute of the match a long ball was played and Jovetic controlled it with his back to goal but instead of turning he hit it with his backheel surprising both the keeper and RSL defender to score a late winner.
The players who impressed me the most were Danilo D'Ambrosio and Axel Bakayoko. D'Ambrosio played well as a fullback in the first half and as a center-back in the second half plus he scored from a sweet volley. 18 year old winger Axel Bakayoko linked up very well with Stevan Jovetic and showed a lot of creativity and determination. I'm on the fence about Jovetic. For the first 30 minutes of his second half cameo he was lackluster, dropping too deep to play up top with Palacio and once he got the ball he would try to do too much and lose possession. Then Bakayoko came on and Jovetic just turned on. The linkup play between the two saw Jovetic flash a shot just barely wide, and the Montenegrin striker also tried a chip that came back off the post. He didn't let that get him down though and his backheel goal was one only a confident man would have attempted. The most disappointing player for me was Daniel Bessa. The 23 year old attacking midfielder was sent on to help create attacking moves at the start of the second half and completely disappeared in those 45 minutes. He will need to do much better if he wants to stick around this season.
Inter's play in this game was not anything to write home about. It was very clear that a midfield pairing of Melo and Kondogbia was not going to be very creative, and Jonathan Biabiany did not get involved enough in the first half to make a whole lot happen. Roberto Mancini's side clearly missed a player like Marcelo Brozovic, Ever Banega, or Ivan Perisic who can make the play that jump-starts an attack. With none of these players currently on Inter's summer tour, we could be in for some long matches.