After an abysmal opening ten minutes was followed by a completely dominant hour of Inter Milan football, what seemed to be an easy, well-deserved three points for the Nerazzurri turned out to be a gut-wrenching, down-to-the-wire victory over Sampdoria. While a handful of players are thriving under Luciano Spalletti’s guidance, some continue to leave us scratching our heads.
Player ratings from Tuesday night at the San Siro:
Samir Handanovic - 5
Two shots on target, two goals. If Sampdoria had been more accurate with their other ten shots, this could’ve evidently gone a little worse. Coming off of his best game of the year at Napoli, Handanovic looked stranded in no man’s land on Samp’s first goal, and did little to stop the second from point-blank range. Additionally, his distribution was poor on more than one occasion.
Danilo D’Ambrosio - 6
Same old, same old. Obviously the weak link in the defense tonight, D’Ambrosio turned in the type of performance we’ve come to expect. The 29-year-old Italian misplaces far too many passes for my liking, and was beaten by Dawid Kownacki on Sampdoria’s first goal.
Milan Skriniar - 7
To be quite honest, Milan Skriniar almost looked better going forward than he did in defense tonight. Inter’s young Slovakian bagged his second goal of the Serie A campaign against his former team, and looked calm as ever while in possession. He and Miranda have to bear down on those conceded goals, however.
Miranda - 6.5
Miranda was the worse of the two in Inter’s central defense tonight. At times the defensive wall we love to see, and at times the shaky Miranda we grudgingly came to know last year, the Brazilian veteran was inconsistent on the ball and in halting the Samp attack tonight.
Yuto Nagatomo - 6.5
At this point, it looks like Yuto is in the starting XI for good. Tonight was better than usual (how about that shot from distance?) even though Ivan Perisic was called in to cover Emperor Yuto defensively on a few occasions. Nagatomo does let the player he’s defending get crosses off more often than not, but at the moment, he’s the better of our two fullbacks.
Matias Vecino - 7
I’ve made it no secret that I rate Vecino very highly. He runs like hell, gives opposing midfields fits with his length, and can chip in in attack. He did each of the three today, especially during the hour in which Inter were hitting on all cylinders. Occasionally, I just wish he’d grow into the game a little quicker.
Roberto Gagliardini - 7
Gagliardini’s presence was felt in the defensive midfield today. He made a handful of quality tackles, switched play rather nicely a couple of times, and kept the players he came up against in check. The only qualm I had with Roberto against Sampdoria is this: when you make a run forward, you have to get back. Gianluca Caprari’s would-be equalizing volley in the closing moments was only possible because Gagliardini was out of position.
Antonio Candreva - 7.5
Candreva seems a changed player since the Milan Derby, and thank god. During Inter’s ethereal stretch of play, Candreva looked like the best player on the field from time to time. What, with a backheel pass here and a backheel pass there. It begs the question, “where has this guy been?”. Candreva recorded the most key passes (6) of either team, twice as many as the next best player.
Borja Valero - 7
Every Inter midfielder receives a 7 today. Borja looked calm and cool in possession, per usual. When the Nerazzurri were flying high, Valero was often the architect behind the scenes. The veteran Spaniard got to be pretty gassed in the later stages of the game, and I question why Vecino was brought off in the 74th minute instead of Valero.
Ivan Perisic - 8.5
Ivan played brilliantly against a Samp team that didn’t seem to have an answer for his pace and strength. He came within inches of scoring twice, smacking both the post and the crossbar with two very different efforts, and provided a wonderful assist to Mauro. Maybe his most impressive play of the evening was a sliding challenge to block a Fabio Quagliarella effort on goal in the midst of Sampdoria’s torrential comeback. Bravo, all around.
Mauro Icardi - 8.5
Mauro Icardi is so clinical it’s almost hard to believe. What surprises me time and time again is his underrated versatility. After two wonderful headed efforts towards the Samp goal, one of which hit the post, it was Icardi’s accurate cross-field ball that set the play in motion that ended in his spectacular volley from inside the area. In the second half, he put a masterful touch on an Ivan Perisic cross to put the ball in the back of the net, and later set Ivan up in return for a close-range effort of his own. He always seems to be getting better.
Joao Mario - 6
JM played an entire quarter of an hour and then some, but it didn’t necessarily feel like it. The Portugese midfielder was largely ineffective as a second half substitute, contradicting what we’ve come to expect from him this year.
Davide Santon - 5.5
Despite only playing a handful of minutes after coming on for Yuto Nagatomo in the 84th minute, Santon managed to find himself in the thick of it quite a bit. Davide made a good challenge or two, but his losing out to Quagliarella in the air on Sampdoria’s second goal is what I’ll remember.
Eder - N/A
Came on in the 87th minute for the goalscorer Icardi and played just long enough to pick up his third yellow card of the season.
Luciano Spalletti - 6.5
I may get some stick for this, but I wasn’t particularly impressed by Luciano Spalletti tonight. The team selection was consistent—and correct. This central midfield combination is working at the moment, and all credit to Spalletti for sticking with it. However, Inter came out of the gates sluggish and were on the back foot for the first ten minutes of the game. Only after the players seemingly came to and realized there were points to be earned here did the play pick up. Additionally, when Sampdoria were making their charge in the second half, there was simply no response. Spalletti has to get a full 90 minutes out of his players.
What’s even more surprising to me were the substitutions. Two players that were visibly exhausted, Danilo D’Ambrosio and Borja Valero, were left on the field to almost crawl towards the ninetieth minute. Bafflingly, their opposites who looked to be going along adequately, Yuto Nagatomo and Matias Vecino, were taken off. Finally, in the closing moments of the game when Inter were desperately clinging to a one-goal lead, we brought on... a striker?
In the end, I’m glad we got the three points. It just didn’t need to be as stressful as it turned out to be.
Man of the Match:
I have a hard time not giving this to Ivan Perisic, but every time Mauro Icardi was on or around the ball, Inter were dangerous. Two goals and a header off the post is just another day at the office for our Argentinian talisman, and he could’ve just as easily had another goal or assist.