I’m trying to write this recap and it’s a lot harder than I expected, mainly because I can’t grasp what emotions I’m feeling right now. It’s not quite fury, though there’s some of it there. It’s not entirely disgust, though that’s been the main emotion I’ve felt towards the team for a little while now. It’s not exactly apathy either, though it’s probably the most prevalent of the three. All I know is that I want this season to end. I want to forget this season ever happened. I want to hire Agents K and J from Men in Black to use their neuralyzer on myself and every other Inter fan on the planet (except for Suning and the rest of Inter management so they can fire/replace/burn it all to the ground and come up with at least a marginally consistent team for the 17-18 season).
Alright I can’t put it off any longer, let’s talk about this match. Stefano Pioli used the same starting lineup from last week, and it actually seemed like the players were eager to make amends for the end of last round’s match and take the game to Fiorentina. That of course lasted for all of about 10 minutes, then the home side settled into their possession game and Inter were unable to get forward at all, resulting in the first goal of the match. Out wide Hrvoje Milic played a low ball into the box for the onrushing Matías Vecino who powered it into the roof of the net.
This seemed to wake Inter up and they evened up the scoreline 5 minutes later. Ivan Perisic sent a through ball to Antonio Candreva and the Italian international cut inside to square the ball into Perisic’s path and the Croatian rolled the ball into the goal. 6 minutes after that it looked like Inter had completed their comeback (if only). Joao Mario sent the ball to Mauro Icardi who dribbled forward while holding off Carlos Sanchez before putting the ball across Ciprian Tatarusanu to give the away side the lead in the 34th minute. Halftime saw the Nerazzurri with the lead, but they had Samir Handanovic to thank for stopping a powerful shot from Borja Valero as well as header from Miranda that was nearly an own goal.
At halftime Perisic talked about needing to score the third goal for Inter as soon as possible and boy did that not happen. The first real action of the half saw Yuto Nagatomo fail to adequately head away a cross and when Danilo D’Ambrosio grabbed onto Khouma Babacar, the Fiorentina man dramatically fell to the ground and won a penalty for his side. Federico Bernardeschi stepped up to take it but his quasi-panenka failed spectacularly and Handanovic was able to get his first penalty save of the season. Unfortunately that penalty save in the 52nd minute was the last time Inter fans would really smile during the match, as Inter fans were taken on a tour of Dante’s circles of hell for the remainder of the game.
In order to minimize depression I’m going to run through this part as quickly as possible. In the 62nd minute Davide Astori headed in from a corner to make it 2-2. Within 90 seconds Vecina found himself with time and space to lash into the bottom corner from outside the box to make it 3-2. By the 70th minute it was 4-2, on the counter Babacar faced off with Gary Medel from a wide position in the box and the attacker simply curled the ball around both the defender and Handanovic to place it in the far corner. To rub salt in the most gaping wounds I’ve ever seen, Fiorentina scored their 5th goal in an offside position, Carlos Salcedo played a side pass for the offside Babacar who one timed it past Inter’s goalkeeper in the 79th minute.
In the 81st minute Joao Mario took a shot from outside the box that went wide of the mark. I usually don’t mention relatively unimpressive shots that are off target, the reason I bring this up is because that was INTER’S FIRST SHOT OF THE SECOND HALF. Icardi hadn’t even touched the ball in the attacking third at this point but when he finally did, he certainly made it count. In the 88th minute Perisic sent a cross that landed at the Inter captain’s feet, and he turned and sent a shot that struck the posts before creeping in to make the score 5-3. The 24 year old wasn’t done yet though, completing his hat-trick in the 91st minute by heading in from a corner. Suddenly there was a bit of fear in the Stadio Artemio Franchi, especially when Astori had to clear off the line to prevent an equalizing goal. With 4 minutes of extra time given Inter got a free kick just before the conclusion of that added on time. The play ended with an Inter corner ended the match before that corner could be taken, just about 40 seconds past the 4 minute mark.
Just like last round, Inter tried to sit back and defend a one goal lead while looking to hit the opposition on the counter. From the start of the second half until the 64th minute Inter never really took the game to Fiorentina, they just tried to contain their opponents and hit them on the counter. Just like last round, that plan blew up in Pioli’s face (actually this one went 200 times worse). This time the side overreacted, threw everybody forward and proceeded to concede over and over on the counter. Something is very wrong with this side and I honestly don’t see things changing before the end of the season.
There have been 5 matches since the Atalanta mauling. That’s 15 available points and of those 15 most fans would’ve expected to get around 10 points, some might’ve expected more some might’ve expected less but I imagine that 10 points is a reasonable expectation facing Torino, Sampdoria, Crotone, AC Milan, and Fiorentina. Inter has picked up 2 of those available 15 points, and of the over 450 minutes of playing time during those matches, I honestly can’t say we can cobble together 90 minutes of positive performance there.
Up next is Napoli. I fully expect Inter to be ripped apart by Sarri’s team. I hate the fact that I can type that without any hesitation or remorse, but it’s true. Pioli’s Inter has fallen apart over the last few matches and I would be 100% shocked if they somehow turn it around against the 3rd placed side in Serie A. In the past I had been saying that Suning should keep Pioli unless they know they can replace him with a top coach who is certain to do better. Now Zhang and co. need to ask themselves a different series of questions: Does Pioli still have the dressing room? Can Pioli pull this team out of ruts? Can Pioli motivate the players for a whole season? If the answer to those questions are no Suning might be forced to change managers whether they wanted to or not.