After a series of disappointing friendlies in the United States Inter returned to Europe to take on Tottenham Hotspur in Norway. With not much time left before the start of the Serie A season Mancini named a starting lineup similar to what one could expect to see this coming campaign. He used a 4231 formation playing Handanovic; Ansaldi, Miranda, Murillo, D’Ambrosio; Brozovic, Kondogbia; Biabiany, Banega, Perisic; Icardi. With the exception of Biabiany being replaced for new signing Antonio Candreva and possibly Caner Erkin at fullback, this is probably Mancini’s strongest side.
Tottenham took an early lead when the referee called an incredibly soft penalty. Cristian Ansaldi slid in for the ball and got it away but on the follow through tripped up Kyle Walker. The referee choose to blow the whistle for some reason and in the 5th minute Harry Kane powered the ball into the top right corner. The Premier League side had a chance to double their lead when Christian Eriksen played Ryan Mason one on one with Samir Handanovic but the midfielder shot wide.
At this point Ever Banega decided to start working his magic on the match. The Argentine first flashed a shot from distance just wide of the top corner, then in the 23rd minute he sent a delightful through ball for Ivan Perisic to latch onto and the Croatian blasted home to level the score. Banega and Perisic continued to be the main offensive threats for Inter the rest of the half but it was the “home” side who reestablished their lead in the 40th minute when Erik Lamela picked up the ball with enough time to pick out to top right corner and give Handanovic no chance.
Inter came out for the second half with an unchanged lineup but the side that took the pitch was nothing like the one that started the match. The team was all over the place defensively and Tottenham tore through them with ease time after time. The first of the second half goals occurred in the 52nd minute when interplay between Vincent Janssen and Deli Ali allowed Ali to lash the ball into the back of the net. Tottenham could’ve had a fourth goal in the 55th minute when Harry Kane’s header hit the crossbar and Lamela tried to flick the rebound in but went just high. The English side did make it 4-1 in the 57th minute. Lamela played a ball to Kane on counter and the striker powered the ball in past Handanovic who was unable to get a hand to it. Eight minutes later Inter fans were even more frustrated when the scoreline was extended even further. Ali charged at the Inter defense but when he was finally hacked down no Inter player moved for the ball expecting to hear a whistle and it rolled to Janssen who played the advantage and scored. It reached 6-1 when Lamela played a square ball across to youngster Shayon Harrison who tapped home to end the rout.
One of the few positives in this match for Inter was Ever Banega’s first half performance. His confidence and vision on the ball was great to watch and I look forward to seeing him rack up assists (and goals) for Inter this coming campaign. Ivan Perisic also showed that he plans to continue the good form that he ended last season with.
So...I think we have a defensive problem. Throughout the USA summer tour I kept saying that the team conceded so many goals because we were missing the dynamic duo of Miranda and Jeison Murillo and once they returned things would be fine. Well they were together today and instead of conceding 4 like the games against PSG and Bayern Munich we conceded 6. The back 4 seemed unsure of themselves in the second half and the defensive midfielders didn’t give them any more confidence. They weren’t sure when to tackle or stay on their feet and when they did go to ground their challenges were often rash and left lots of space behind them to be exploited. Roberto Mancini has some serious work to do in order to fix these problems before the start of the season. We have the individual players to do good things this season, they just aren’t playing as a organized unit yet.