I think we all realize that the loss that occurred on Monday has tragic consequences for the remainder of Inter’s season. With 8 matches remaining Inter is in 6th place, 9 points behind Napoli in the last Champions League spot. Even if the southern club imploded in historic fashion Inter would have to count on Lazio and Atalanta falling apart as well, a trio of situations so unlikely we’d probably get investigated for match fixing if it actually occurred.
To make matters worse if the Nerazzurri end the season in their current position they will be forced to participate in the Europa League preliminary rounds, meaning they will have to start preseason training early and will have to cut their summer tour short. Oh and AC Milan is only a point behind us so that’s not even guaranteed. The league table is not the only place the Sampdoria match had a major impact though, and this article will assess some of those impacts.
Let’s start with the most immediate issue following this match, the injury to Roberto Gagliardini. Since his arrival the young Italian has revitalized Inter’s midfield, providing it with a dynamism and hunger that has seemed to be lacking for quite some time. As we know he has also helped show off Geoffrey Kondogbia’s potential, as he plays much better next to Gagliardini versus Brozovic or another midfielder. Luckily the injury to the 22 year old is not as serious as feared, his ankle sprain will likely see him only miss the match against Crotone and return in time for the Derby Della Madonnina. The club will likely err on the side of caution though, given Gagliardini’s importance they will not want to rush him back only to see him get hurt again.
There also could be some potential Gabigol issues again in the near future. It has been widely reported that once the Brazilian attacker found out he was not going to be sent on during the Sampdoria match he lashed out in anger and kicked a water bottle. It seems that the youngster will not be punished for his outburst (at least publicly) as the club tries to keep him happy enough to stay at Inter despite not playing him. After this incident rumors are circulating once again that clubs will try to steal Gabriel Barbosa away in the summer but him and his agent have been curiously quiet in recent times. With the season basically over there is absolutely no reason to leave Barbosa on the bench, Stefano Pioli must realize at this point that he needs to play Gabigol or be prepared for the club to risk this humiliation of losing him already.
Somebody that is more certain to leave this summer (and one that the fans won’t be as disappointed to see depart) is Marcelo Brozovic. The emergence of the Gagliardini-Kondogbia midfield duo combined with the effectiveness of Joao Mario (and more recently Ever Banega) at trequartista has seen Brozovic’s playing time greatly reduced. Pioli gave him an opportunity to fight for his place on Monday and he proceeded to screw the team over with one of the dumbest tactical decisions I’ve seen from an Inter player-and it had to be a tactical decision, there’s no way he raises his arm like that by accident. Like Drewseph has said, his inconsistency and unprofessionalism makes him more of a liability than an asset especially given the midfield options the club now has and I believe this will be the 24 year old’s last season at the club. A number of Premier League clubs have reportedly been interested in him and the fact that he recently started following Manchester United’s Instagram account has only added fuel to the fire. After his performance against Sampdoria, most fans probably won’t shed tears when he departs.
Somebody who might not necessarily leave because of this match but might see a positional switch in the near future is Gary Medel. Since his move to the defense he has performed decently well but there have been times where he was exposed and made a couple of mistakes. Jeison Murillo is more than capable of partnering Miranda at the back, and there are rumors that Inter has finalized a deal with AS Roma for Kostas Manolas to arrive in the summer. If the Greek center-back joins the club Medel will likely get shifted back to the midfield or will serve as a backup defender.
Oh also we already knew this but this game also emphasized the fact that we have a serious crossing problem. La Gazzetta Della Sport tallied the team’s effectiveness from crosses and found that only 8 of Inter’s 46 crosses were accurate. Inter’s season total goals from crossing is 15 goals from 986 crosses. That’s just abysmal. If the team is going to continue to rely on wing-play so much Suning needs to invest in better fullbacks or wingers that can accurately send the ball into the box.
Finally there is the question of Stefano Pioli. So far we have been able to say that while the coach has lost against the best sides in the league his team has been able to beat the lower teams that he should win against. That fact is no longer accurate. There can be some questioning of Pioli’s decisions during the Sampdoria game and in the aftermath of that loss the stories have been swirling again that Suning will try to bring Antonio Conte in from Chelsea this summer. I still think that Pioli should remain at the club unless a world-class coach arrives; he has done reasonably well given the situation he arrived to. He will likely stick around in the summer, but this match has increased the pressure he is feeling and he probably cannot afford many more performances like this. If AC Milan finishes above us expect heads to roll (aka his head).