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Will it be up or down for Inter Milan?

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Nerazzurri have a chance to erase doubters.

AC Milan v FC Internazionale - TIM Cup
FC Internazionale Milano coach Luciano Spalletti shouts to his players during the TIM Cup match between AC Milan and FC Internazionale at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on December 27, 2017 in Milan, Italy.
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Let’s face it, it has been a pretty dismal couple of years for Inter Milan fans.

Not since the glory days of the 2010-11 treble have Interisti had much reason to celebrate.

There was the 2015 season start where we were winter champions after winning our first five games of the season, only to see the season seemingly fall apart after the holidays leaving us in fourth and out of the Champions League.

That led to the resignation of Roberto Mancini simply because he saw the team was unwilling to invest in the needs he identified.

Then, there was last season where we started the season about as bad as any Inter team in recent memory. But, we were able to pull ourselves up and win seven in a row to sit in fourth heading into a crucial February. But, we failed to finish strong and couldn’t even qualify for the Europa League.

Now, here we are this season. A new manager in Luciano Spalletti – the 10th manager for Inter since Jose Mourinho left the club following that magical treble season.

We started the season stronger than even two years ago – winning seven of our first eight, including a 3-2 Derby della Madonnina win over AC Milan – racing to the top of the table at the first of December following a 5-0 blasting of Crotone.

Then, a 0-0 draw at Juventus in the Derby d’Italia – considered by many Interisti to be a win considering we held a Juventus team that had not lost at the Allianz Stadium in who knows how long, scoreless.

But, that seemed to be when the wheels of the Inter train started to get shaky.

Despite getting a win over Serie C side Pordenone in the Coppa Italia, the fact the game went to penalties left most fans with a bad taste in their mouths. But, as they say: a win’s a win.

That could be acceptable if not for what followed: a 3-1 loss to Udinese, a 1-0 loss against Sassuolo and the 1-0 loss in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals to an AC Milan team that is anything but exceptional this season.

So, now Inter sits at a crossroads heading into Saturday’s bout with Lazio. On one hand, the Nerazzurri can lose and finish the year in fourth place, just a point ahead of the aforementioned Lazio. They could draw which might be as good as a win, but a win has potential to erase the doubt swirling through the hearts and minds of the faithful Interisti fans who have seen their fair share of ups and downs.

“We must have in mind who we are and where we come from,” Spalletti said in his pre-match press conference Friday. “So, knowing that we are a strong team, we can never be in great difficulty if we do not want to be. We have the solutions.”

Now, if Inter loses to Lazio is the season over? No. It’s Italian football and anything can happen. But, the Interisti spirit will likely take a hit that will be difficult to recover from. On the same token, does a win over Lazio mean Inter can start booking travel for Europe next year? No. It’s Italian football and anything can happen.

However, a win over Lazio could go a long way to buy faith and credit from a dedicated fan base that is looking for any form of hope to cling to ensuring this season won’t be the same as the last six. The hope that this season is one that sees us through to European football and even … dare I say … a run at the Scudetto.

Forza Inter … always!