Inter began the new season in fine fashion, brushing aside La Viola by a 3-0 scoreline. A year ago, we were losing 2-0 away to Chievo. Result and scoreline aside, almost everyone would agree what a difference a year makes! It finally looks like there is a plan, our transfers seem to be somewhat logical, and we have a coach who is proven in Serie A.
Now that the euphoria of the result has died down a bit, it has perhaps given fans and contributors time to rethink some of their immediate takeaways. The SoM staff will offer up their collective thoughts on the game as a final reflection before we start to look ahead to next weekend's game.
What was your favorite aspect of the game:
Matt: The attacking style of play. I thought the movement between Borja Valero, Ivan Perisic and Mauro Icardi showed Interisti what we hope we can expect. I know that Fiorentina were depleted, but still it was a pretty impressive performance. Toss in the late play of Joao Mario in the midfield and our forward progress was a lot better than what many may have expected from the first game out.
Will: The fact that it wasn’t a surprise. There was nothing random about our performance or victory on Sunday; it was simply the logical follow-on from everything we’d seen up until that point. And that bodes very well for this season. We appear to have an identity as a team, which is the fruit of several weeks’ hard work during preseason, and to be perfectly honest I can’t remember the last time we had that. I was confident we’d win (for once), because the signs all pointed in that direction in the build-up. And we did. Well.
Tim: The result. Believe it or not, this was just the fifth time in the past 11 years that Inter started out a season with a win. That, combined with the fact that the club hadn’t kept a clean sheet since February of last year, and that this was Spalletti’s first match in change, makes the 3-0 victory so important for Inter. I could not be more relived and happy after Sunday.
Torin: Inter’s dominance in the midfield. It’s been years since I’ve watched a Nerazzurri game and come away thinking that our midfield was anything but complete shambles. Over the years, we’ve had a few pieces work here and there, but never the full package working as one dominant unit. That wasn’t the case on Sunday. Borja Valero kept our tempo, Matias Vecino showed up in the right place at the right time defensively more often than not, and Marcelo Brozovic did his part until Joao Mario finally relieved him of his duties (and performed his duties far superiorly).
Sanat: Inter's defense. There were moments in the game where Fiorentina started gaining more than a foothold, and made a few counter-attacks that would have certainly resulted in panic and pandemonium in last year's defense. We looked a lot more stable. Miranda was able to shepherd the ball out of play on multiple occasions and snuffed out any danger. A clean sheet to top it all off (for the first time since beating Bologna in February), enough said!
What was your biggest concern from watching the game:
Matt: I think the defense still poses some issues. We started the game strong, but once the Viola picked up a bit of steam, it seemed to put the defense on their heels a bit. I’m still not satisfied with our defensive play and while Yuto Nagatomo showed flashes and Milan Skriniar seemed not to lose a step, our clearance of the ball was a concern at several intervals of the game.
Will: That we currently have no back-up whatsoever for Miranda and Skriniar, I think. I’m sure at least one centre-back will be signed before 31 August but it’s concerning that we’re only one injury or suspension away from an emergency in defence. Another concern was the amount of chances we missed (many of which from very favourable positions) - Brozovic aside, we don’t have any goal-scoring midfielders and that could become an issue later on this season. Mauro and Ivan can’t do it all by themselves for 38 weeks.
Tim: While the hour of play from the 20th to 80th minute, was certainly concerning, I’m going to go with an over-reliance on Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic. Both looked spectacular on Sunday, but I doubt they’ll be given as much space against Juventus, Roma, Napoli or Milan in future matches. Beyond those two, Inter’s finishing was disappointing, to say the least. If an opponent is able to shut down either Icardi or Perisic, does anther player in the squad have enough quality to step up and be a match-winner for Inter? I’m not entirely convinced the answer to that question is “yes” at the moment.
Torin: Although I personally disagree with much of the disdain he attracts, it has to be Antonio Candreva. Or, more accurately, our weakness on the right wing. Candreva didn’t play particularly poorly at the San Siro this past Sunday, but he didn’t play particularly well either. After drifting inside to help link up play and free up space for D’Ambrosio on the right wing (shouldn’t we be freeing up space for Candreva himself?) relatively ineffectively for much of the match, Antonio eventually squared a good ground-cross to Icardi to have a whack at in the box later on in the second half. Other than that, I can’t think of another chance he created or another move he spurred. My concern is this: if we’re truly trying to compete for a top-four finish (or even more ambitious goals), is Antonio Candreva really the best we can do on the right flank? And if he happens to go down for an extended period of time, who then?
Sanat: Inter came flying out of the box and completely dominated the first 20 minutes. However, after that Fiorentina started playing better and gained a bit of ascendancy between the 20th minute and half-time. Inter's attack looked a little blunt during this time and one has to wonder how they would cope against stronger opposition.
Who was your man of the match and why:
Matt: Borja Valero. He came out, started and looked like he has known the system for years. He showed leadership on the field and prowess in both defensive and offensive sets. I think his maturity in the middle is going to be an anchor Inter will be able to rely on for the season.
Will: The obvious answer is Icardi, and in a way that’s the only legitimate answer - he scored two of our three goals and immediately put the game in a very comfortable position for us by doing so. So as everyone is (quite rightly) praising Mauro, I’d like to praise Perisic. In a summer of widespread mutinies across Europe, where players have been deserting training sessions and handing in fake sick notes left right and centre, Perisic has been an immaculate professional despite his strong desire to move to Manchester United. His performance on Sunday, capped with a goal and a lovely assist, was proof how good a man he is. I’m delighted to still have him with us (even if he does make some mind-bogglingly bad decisions at times...)
Tim: I have to go with the obvious: Mauro Icardi. As good as Perisic preformed, Mauro was simply the difference for Inter. He scored two goals, and could very easily have netted four. Icardi beating two taller defenders in the air to score that second goal was extremely impressive. You also can’t forget that he had an abbreviated preseason, and is still in the process of getting up to full speed… But hey, it’s great we can have this debate!
Torin: Ivan Perisic is definitely my pick here. And once again, I’ll harp on his outstanding defensive contribution relative to his position. Aside from his pinpoint cross to Icardi and his lethal diving header, Perisic tracked back to make a tackle, two interceptions, and numerous disruptions. Additionally, he and Yuto Nagatomo actually linked up quite well a handful of times on overlapping runs and give-and-go’s. His overall contribution to winning the three points was unmatched against Fiorentina.
Sanat: Ivan Perisic. His performance just underlined why he is so essential to our success. He missed an easy chance to make it 3-0 in the first half but still got in on the scoring. While his attacking prowess is clear for all to see, it was his defensive contributions that made it a consummate display. His workrate and tracking back almost made Nagatomo look competent. Given our issues at full back, his defensive contributions might be the most undervalued portion of his game but probably the most important.
Describe the game in one word:
Having watched the game, if you had 35 million Euros, who would you sign tomorrow:
Matt: Patrik Schick. I know we have lauded our forward play after the first game but, let’s be honest ... this kid is legit. Speed, control, field vision ... he has it all and he’s only 21 years old. We may not be playing European football this year, but in the coming years we are going to need that extra attacking option and Schick gives us that. Defense is important, don’t get me wrong, but I think we need to see how Dalbert and Cancelo fit into the system.
Will: Patrik Schick. For everything that Matt just said: he is football.
Tim: In a strictly hypothetical world, I’d sign Eric Dier. I know Inter haven’t been linked to him, and it wouldn’t make sense for Dier to leave England, but his versatility would be such a nice addition for Inter. Dier can play both as a center back and as a defensive midfielder, and has a proven track record of excelling in both roles for Tottenham Hotspur. He’s strong and physical, 6’2”, and still only 23-years-old. Given Inter’s lack of depth at center back and CDM, Dier would be a perfect signing in my opinion.
Torin: Shkodran Mustafi. The German center back made the move to Arsenal just a year ago for that same figure, 35 million Euros, and recent reports out of England have suggested that Inter have contacted the Gunners about acquiring him. While Schick would be an undeniably exciting signing, I think Mustafi would be the superior signing for this team right now. For one, we badly lack depth at the center back position. Mustafi would come into the squad and immediately give Miranda and Milan Skriniar tough competition for their respective starting spots, and would likely provide additional council to the budding Skriniar. Moreover, Mustafi has experience in Italy. He and Mauro Icardi actually played on the same Sampdoria team.
Sanat: Alfred Duncan – I might be biased here given his Primavera background but rumors are that Sassuolo are looking for 15 million to sell him. Given Spalletti's ability to groom youngsters, I can see him becoming a force in midfield that Kondogbia could not. I would hate to see him go to a different club. The only downside with this being, Inter is fairly well stacked in midfield. Oh and we use the remaining cash to tie down Perisic to a longer, better contract!
Tell us what you think in the comment section below.