Inter returned to second place in the Serie A table on Monday night thanks to a narrow 2-1 victory over lowly Hellas Verona. Goals from Borja Valero and Ivan Perisic were enough to secure Luciano Spalletti’s side a deserved, if unspectacular win, which takes the Nerazzurri onto 29 points after 11 games - a club record since three points for a win was introduced. Matt’s recap of the game can be found here, while below are our player ratings.
Spalletti said in his post-game interview that everybody deserved 10/10 for having broken an all-time club record, but while understanding and appreciating the sentiment we’re not going to be quite that generous.
Samir Handanovic - 5.5
An extremely uneventful night for Samir, in which Verona’s forwards (and Inter’s defenders) gave him precious little to do - apart from the one incident that could have cost us the victory. Ultimately D’Ambrosio was more at fault than he was, but it was still a very rash challenge from the Slovenian. Try not to do that in the future Samir.
Danilo D’Ambrosio - 5
Certainly less impressive tonight than in his last few performances. Rarely did he get forward to overlap on the wing, which also made it harder for Candreva to be dangerous, and then came the terrible lapse in concentration that gifted Verona their penalty. Maximum concentration when you’re only 1-0 up, otherwise that can happen. Let’s hope it’s a blip.
Milan Skriniar - 7
By now his impeccable performances should no longer be a surprise, and yet this guy never ceases to amaze you. Is he ever going to have an off night?! Yet again he got a foot or a head to pretty much everything that came into Inter’s box. What’s remarkable is that he seems to be the leader of this defence more than Miranda is, which nobody could have expected a couple of months ago. A rock. Again.
Miranda - 6.5
He’s unlikely to grab any of the headlines in Tuesday’s papers, but perhaps his assured display is one of the more important pieces of news to emerge from this match. Calm and composed whenever he had to intervene - although Hellas weren’t exactly the stiffest of tests from a defensive point of view. Sunday’s match against Torino and in particular Andrea Belotti may give us a better idea of whether he’s back in form.
Yuto Nagatomo - 6
He didn’t start the game well, with Verde and in particular Romulo skipping past him with ease on Verona’s right-hand side, but as time passed he became much more secure. Very few errors from the half-hour onwards and in the end a solid display. Will Dalbert be offered another chance against Torino on Sunday, or will he be kept waiting? Time will tell, but I wouldn’t count on it. Yuto continues to hold his own.
Roberto Gagliardini - 5.5
Mostly secure and punctual when protecting the back four, but distracted and imprecise on the ball. His poor passes frequently forced Inter to slow their attacks down or lose possession altogether. An off night, if not a disastrous one, that was capped by a slightly severe yellow card in the second half, which takes him to within one booking of a suspension.
Matias Vecino - 6.5
Not as decisive as Borja, Skriniar or Perisic, but despite that he stood out for the fourth game running. After putting together that Twitter thread at the start of the weekend I now realise just how important a player Vecino is for us, and I think he demonstrated it yet again during this match. He does everything, and he does everything well - if we’ve started to play better football in this past month then in part it’s down to his continual improvement. €24m is looking less and less of a rip-off with each day that passes.
Antonio Candreva - 6.5
For large periods of the match his performance was forgettable, failing to create dangerous situations on the right wing and reverting to his eternal comfort blanket: the harmless cross. But the bottom line is that he had a decisive role in both goals, so this was a good night for the Italian international. His cross for Borja’s goal was gorgeous, and the corner from which Perisic rifled in his goal arrived after his shot that Nicolas turned round the post. Successful evening.
Borja Valero - 7
His first goal in an Inter shirt couldn’t have come on a more appropriate night. On a night where Inter often seemed happy to settle into second gear Borja was one of the few men looking to speed things up in the opposition half, providing a priceless contribution both off the ball and on it. His personality and charisma came shining through, not to mention his dazzling footballing qualities. We’ve needed a player like this for a long time; €5.5m for him is looking like slightly better value for money at the moment than €20m for Lucas Biglia, is it not...
Ivan Perisic - 6.5
I don’t know what exactly Luciano Spalletti did to this man during the summer, but whatever it was I’m glad he did it. It’s as if he had a lobotomy during pre-season, because the player we’re seeing this season is completely different than the one we’ve seen in the past - not so much in terms of offensive quality, but in terms of tactical intelligence, defensive abnegation and the ability to remain ‘in’ the game for 90 minutes. This display was less impressive in those senses than his previous few displays, granted, but on this occasion he was decisive with a fabulous goal - so you know, swings and roundabouts.
The only thing that stood out with regards to the goal, which we all know he’s capable of, is the fact he scored it with his right foot. The man he was pointing to on the bench during his goal celebration was Adriano Bonaiuti, Inter’s goalkeeping coach, who apparently has a habit of teasing him about how he never scores goals with his right foot. Another critic who’s now been silenced.
Mauro Icardi - 5.5
A strange performance from Maurito, to say the least. He’s evidently trying to participate more in our build-up play of late, and that can only be a good thing as far as I’m concerned, but on this occasion he seemed to leave out the other side of his game altogether - the side he’s so monstrously good at. The only two chances he had all night were shots from outside the box, which is extremely un-Icardi like. Mauro still needs to find the right balance in that respect, but we need to make sure we distinguish between ‘rarely involved in the team’s play’ from ‘not a team player’ - nobody can dispute that he is working his backside off week in week out. It’s a question of characteristics, not application or attitude.
Marcelo Brozovic - 5.5
Came on to replace Candreva with 15 minutes left. Didn’t have any particular impact on the game.
Joao Cancelo - 6
The defensive diagonal he performed on Fares in the 93rd minute suggests he might have learned from his mistake in the derby. That clearance alone is worth a 6, because it was an important one.
Éder - N/A
Replaced Icardi with five minutes left; not enough time to warrant a grade.
Luciano Spalletti - 7.5
The eight minutes that followed Verona’s equaliser are the perfect example of the stupendous work this man has been doing since he turned up in June. Had Inter conceded that kind of goal in any of the past five seasons I dread to think how they would have reacted; instinct tells me not very well.
This year’s Inter, however, put their foot straight back on the accelerator and had restored their lead within less than 10 minutes, in a period of play that also saw them hit the bar. And that’s thanks to him.
Spalletti has turned last season’s disinterested rabble into a team that feel a strong degree of responsibility playing for Inter and refuse to contemplate the idea of not winning a match. They rebel against the defeat, even against the draw - no matter what strange circumstances a match throws at them they don’t let it affect them, because they have nothing but winning in their minds. Even when they’re playing poorly they find a way to get the job done, because unlike in previous seasons the sense you get is that they really want to get the job done.
Everyone would prefer Inter to be more spectacular than they are at the moment, but the bottom line is that we have 29 points after 11 matches - more than double that we had at this stage last season, and a new all-time record in the era of three points for a win. All this after having signed two Fiorentina midfielders and a promising defender from Sampdoria. Luciano from Certaldo’s not doing too badly, is he?
Man of the Match - Borja Valero
It wasn’t a coincidence that Inter scored their opening goal within a minute of Borja’s individual pressing on Verona keeper Nicolas. The Spaniard wanted to send his team-mates a message as the match was falling into a stupor towards the end of the first half, and that message was well and truly received. It’s little things like that which remind you quite why Spalletti wanted this man so badly during the summer - as well as being a top player, he’s a leader. That’s why I think he deserves the MOTM award tonight; he took it upon himself to drag us through on a below-par evening.