Three points dropped for a wasteful Inter
When it was all said and done, Inter racked up 26 shots, 15 corners, and 66 percent possession during Saturday’s match. Despite this, the Nerazzurri were only able to find the back of the net once. Given the quality of chances they had, Inter could (and likely should) have scored three or four goals. Mauro Icardi, Miranda, and Milan Skriniar all had open headers from point blank range in the match, but each failed to score at the most crucial time.
In contrast, Udinese took full advantage of their opportunities, and that was the difference on Saturday. Even the best teams can have an “off day” every once in a while, but make no mistake about it; Inter should have done much better in this match. This was a case of three points dropped.
A tale of two halves
The Nerazzurri were absolutely dominant in the first half of Saturday’s match. Although, Udinese took an early lead in the 15th minute, Inter were able to cancel that out in just 71 seconds. Despite not being able to score again before the stroke of halftime, Inter looked lively and dangerous with every attack, and were perhaps a bit unlucky not to have a lead.
Unfortunately, the second half didn’t follow suit. The first 20 minutes after the break were simply a disaster for Inter. Udinese had a brilliant opportunity on the counter that was miraculously saved by Handanovic, and then took the lead from the penalty spot. This forced the Nerazzurri to risk more when moving forward, and Inter ultimately conceded again in the 77th minute to seal the result.
It was frustrating to see Inter play so well in the first half, only to slip and waste it in the second. After a listless draw with Juventus last weekend, and a near catastrophe in the Coppa Italia, Spalletti will undoubtedly be concerned.
A nightmare match for Davide Santon
It’s no secret that left back has been a problematic position for Inter in recent seasons. The return to form of Davide Santon seemed to give Interisti hope that maybe, just maybe, Spalletti was able to find an effective solution among the players at his disposal. Unfortunately, Santon’s last two performances have been dreadful.
The Italian was overran by Juan Cuadrado in last week’s Derby D’Italia, and followed that up with a nightmare performance against Udinese on Saturday.
While it might be unfair to single out only Santon, the left back was directly responsible for the visitor’s first two goals. In the first half, he failed to clear an Udinese counter attack and subsequently lost the ball in the box, which allowed Silvan Widmer to play a cross to Kevin Lasagna, who finished from point blank range. In the second half, the VAR confirmed a blatant Santon handball, which allowed Udinese to take the lead from Rodrigo de Paul’s penalty. Spalletti sacrificed Santon for Yann Karamoh in the 69th minute, before the left back could do more damage for Inter, ending a nightmare performance from Santon.
It’s time to see what Spalletti’s Inter are really made of
The last time Inter found themselves on top of the table this late in the season was during the 2015/16 campaign under Roberto Mancini. A December loss at the San Siro (Inter 1-2 Lazio on Dec. 20th) ended up spurring a downward spiral that saw the Nerazzurri implode in January and February. Mancini’s Inter would finish the season in fourth place, just one spot short of the Champions League. With the top of the Serie A table as tight as ever this year, Inter cannot afford to let Saturday’s loss to Udinese derail their season like the Lazio loss did in 2015/16.
It’s time to see what Spalletti’s Inter are really made of. Their next three matches are against Sassuolo (away), AC Milan (in the Coppa Italia), and Lazio in the final match of 2017. A positive, and winning, response from Inter would go a long way in proving that they’ve truly turned the corner mentally under Spalletti. Dropping points and crashing out of the Coppa would diminish all the positive strides Inter have taken so far this season.
This is the first time we’ll see Inter respond to a loss under their new manager. How they handle the adversity will speak volumes.
he who falls and gets back up is stronger than he who never falls. #InterUdinese ⚫— Serpents of Madonnina (@SerpentsOfInter) December 16, 2017
A possible blessing in disguise for Inter
With Napoli defeating Torino on Saturday, Inter’s time atop the Serie A came to an abrupt end. As disappointing as that is, Inter falling to second or third in the league could wind up being blessing in disguise if they have the right response.
When a club is in first place, there’s undoubtedly more pressure on the squad, be it fair or not. With Inter falling a spot or two in the league table, Spalletti and his players can move forward without being under the microscope that comes with “league-leaders” status. This could allow Inter the opportunity to regroup, and just focus on playing their football.
The stated ambition for the club this season was to qualify for the Champions League, a realistic goal when you consider Inter’s squad. If Saturday’s loss, and the fact that they’re no longer unbeaten, calms the talk of Inter winning the Scudetto this season, maybe it wasn’t the worst result after all.
Do you have any other takeaways from Saturday’s match? Share in the comments below.