Inter’s unbeaten start to the Serie A season continued on Saturday evening with a 3-1 victory over Cagliari at the Sardegna Arena. After a difficult opening half-hour in which Diego Lopez’s side caused the Nerazzurri all sorts of problems, goals from Marcelo Brozovic and Mauro Icardi - scoring his fifth brace of the season - secured three more points on the road to send them top of the table for a night.
If it’s a match recap you’re after then please head here, but below you can find our player ratings. No prizes for guessing who gets the highest one.
Samir Handanovic - 7
An excellent performance from Samir in a tough first half for Inter. Had it not been for two crucial saves we would have found ourselves chasing the game against an inspired Cagliari outfit, so thank goodness he was there. Nothing he could have done on Pavoletti’s goal.
Danilo D’Ambrosio - 6
Not quite as impressive as last week, when he played a crucial role in Inter’s victory over Atalanta. D’Ambrosio struggled in the first half like the rest of the team, but his versatility enabled Spalletti to switch to a back three in our most difficult moment and that should be remembered as well. This was in fact his 100th appearance for Inter, which few people would have foreseen a couple of years ago; congratulations to him.
Milan Skriniar - 6
Well it had to happen eventually. For three months Skriniar has been nigh-on perfect, but on this occasion he was less dominant and irreproachable. Cagliari’s goal was partially his fault as he left Pavoletti completely unmarked in the box, and that wasn’t the only time the former Napoli striker gave him something to think about. But even on one of his less impressive evenings he still came up with that pass to Candreva, which led to Brozovic’s goal. He remains the greatest Milan in Serie A.
Miranda - 6.5
Unable to match Pavoletti for physicality, like his fellow centre-back, he tried to anticipate him most of the time and he did so fairly well. Another solid display which suggests last week’s performance against Atalanta wasn’t a mere flash in the pan - and he managed to get himself booked, which means he won’t miss the Juventus game.
Davide Santon - 6
Spalletti named him in the starting XI for the second week running and he was repaid with another discreet performance. All of Cagliari’s most dangerous moves in the first half originated from his side, but he kept his head and helped us score the opening goal with a nice pass. Very good in the second half.
Matias Vecino - 6
He alternated good things with less good things. The highlight of his match was definitely that pass for Icardi in the first half, as we didn’t get any of his spectacular box-to-box runs on this occasion. Nevertheless, solid enough
How serious will this muscular injury turn out to be, though? Only time will tell, but it’s by no means guaranteed that he’ll be fit to face Chievo next weekend. If he can’t recover for Sunday then let’s hope he’s back in time for Juventus at least.
Roberto Gagliardini - 6
Another player who didn’t know what was going on in the first half but improved markedly in the second. Cagliari’s midfielders overwhelmed him with their high intensity early on, causing him to misplace some more passes, but he was more secure in the second half. Like Miranda, he too will get his one-game suspension out of the way before the Juventus game.
Antonio Candreva - 7
Yet another superb performance from Tonino, who has silenced a lot of his critics in recent weeks with a string of excellent displays. At this moment in time he’s one of our most important players, having had a hand in all three goals at the Sardegna Arena - in particular the assist for Brozovic’s goal was excellent. If Icardi is so dangerous in the box it’s also because of the service he provides. Only Lorenzo Insigne has created more goal-scoring chances than him this season.
Borja Valero - 6.5
Again, a poor opening half-hour before an encouraging final hour. He couldn’t get on the ball for love no money early on, but once Spalletti had adjusted his tactical set-up he had much more success.
Ivan Perisic - 6
He’s not in great form at the moment - Candreva is consistently outperforming him in recent weeks - but he still ended the game with an assist and a half. When others go into oxygen debt late on he dips into his supplementary tank of energy and finds another gear, every single week. Great to watch.
Mauro Icardi - 8
There’s nothing to say anymore. There’s nothing we can say about Icardi anymore.
14 games played, 15 goals scored. Incredible. We are truly blessed.
Marcelo Brozovic - 6.5
You can never be sure what Brozovic you’re going to get, especially when he starts on the bench and comes on as a substitute. Fortunately, on this occasion we got the good version, which made it 2-0 with practically his first touch. All very positive from then on, Marcelo did his bit for the team. You still don’t really trust him, but for footballing characteristics he’s the most suited player in our squad to that no. 10 role behind Icardi.
Let’s hope he can repeat this display from the start next weekend, because he’ll need to start given Inter’s absences in midfield.
Joao Cancelo - N/A
Came on too late to warrant a grade.
Éder - N/A
Came on too late to warrant a grade.
Luciano Spalletti - 7
“Everybody keeps telling us that we’re breaking club records this season, that we’re still unbeaten. But the question we have to ask ourselves inside the dressing room is this: why is it that we haven’t won every single game?”
That was what Luciano Spalletti said to Inter TV before his pre-game press conference on Friday afternoon, and it explains how Inter have been able to take 36 points from their opening 14 games. We’re doing brilliantly but he has the ambition to make us even better.
More than ambition though, it was humility and flexibility that he demonstrated in this match. During Inter’s most critical moment of the first half he decided to momentarily mirror Cagliari’s 3-5-2 system and go man-to-man all over the pitch, and it worked wonders with Icardi breaking the deadlock minutes later.
As well as being able to prepare games well he’s also capable of reading them well, a quality very few Inter coaches have possessed in recent years (Frank de Boer in particular received a huge amount of criticism for this).
He’s great. We’re lucky to have him.
Man of the Match - Mauro Icardi
Riccardo Trevisani and Daniele Adani weren’t on commentary duty for Sky Italy this week, but had they been behind the mic at the Sardegna Arena we know exactly how they’d have signed off at full-time (ahem).
For the second week in a row, there is no contest when it comes to Inter’s Man of the Match. But with Icardi there never is a contest - when he’s Man of the Match the world and his dog are aware of it. When he plays well, he plays brilliantly. Five braces and one hat-trick in 14 games is the work of an alien.