Inter's perfect start to the 2017-18 Serie A season ended on Tuesday night as the Nerazzurri were held to draw by Bologna. The Rossoblu dominated the first half and took the lead on the half-hour with a goal from Simone Verdi, but ultimately they were denied the victory their performance would have deserved after Mauro Icardi converted a penalty 15 minutes from time. A recap of the match at the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara can be found here, while below you can examine our player ratings. They don’t make for especially pretty reading on this occasion...
Samir Handanovic - 6
Another active night for Samir after Saturday's vigorous workout in Calabria. This time he didn't produce anything quite like the supernatural save he pulled off on Marcus Rohden at the weekend, but he did his bit to keep us afloat when water was leaking in from all sides of the defence in the first half. He cannot be blamed for Verdi's goal, which was a super strike from a genuinely super player.
Danilo D'Ambrosio - 5
Another uncertain performance after Crotone at the weekend. Verdi 'ripped him a new one' down Inter's right-hand side, as the English sometimes say, and so Bologna's star player enjoyed his evening far more than Danilo did. He was booked on the half-hour and only regained a modicum of composure towards the end of the match.
Milan Skriniar - 6
This was certainly his least convincing performance in an Inter shirt to date, but it would never have taken much for that to happen given how brilliant all his performances have been so far. Di Francesco's gave him plenty of trouble while Petkovic managed to draw a few fouls out of him, but he just about held his own on a night when very few of his teammates did. I certainly don't condone the 4.5 (!) that Wednesday's Corriere dello Sport gave him in their match report.
Miranda - 5.5
Former Inter defender Beppe Bergomi raised a few eyebrows on Sunday night when he suggested on Italian TV that it is Skriniar who has made Miranda a better defender since arriving at Inter, and not the other way around as most had anticipated. Perhaps that is premature and going a little too far, but for sure the Brazilian was the shakier of the two in this match. Petkovic proved a trickier customer than expected and got a surprising amount of change out of him. In trouble when pressed and found wanting in terms of his reading of the game, which is usually his strong suit.
Yuto Nagatomo - 6
He was more impressive against Crotone when he came off the bench and got immediately stuck into the action (on what was his 200th appearance for Inter - insert whatever emoji face you deem to be appropriate). But he was OK here too. He seemed to be the most concentrated of our back four and got closer to his maximum level of performance than others, although Verdi made life hard for him too when he came to his side. Verdi makes life hard for a lot of people when he's in that kind of mood.
Matias Vecino - 5
Definitely his worst performance in an Inter shirt to date. Spalletti had rested him against SPAL and Crotone and will have expected a lot from Vecino in this match, but the Uruguayan was a long way off the pace and incapable of dealing with Pulgar and Donsah's superior intensity in midfield. The meek resistance he offered against Verdi before Bologna's goal said it all: not good enough. Let's hope this was a one-off.
Borja 5Uh oh. When Borja doesn't play, Inter don't play, and on Tuesday evening Borja didn't play. Like with Vecino it became clear pretty quickly that the Spaniard wasn't in top form, uninspired with his passing and unable to speed up the tempo of our possession - although that last bit was also down to a lack of movement form his teammates, it must be said. What's concerning is that Spalletti would probably have preferred to give him a rest for this game, yet didn't because he knows he's irreplaceable for the way he wants us to play. Let's hope he can sustain an entire season of good performances - he's not getting any younger...
Antonio Candreva - 5
This is the kind of performance that makes Candreva such a despised figure amongst Inter supporters. After a promising start to the game the Italian vanished and contributed nothing of use to the team, with only a few imprecise crosses to note during the second half. I remain a (moderate) supporter of Candreva and would not want to see him dropped from the team, but it goes without saying that we need a lot more than this from whoever plays at right wing.
Joao Mario - 4
I love Joao Mario as much as any other man on this planet - perhaps even more so - but sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. Joao was a complete and utter disaster in this match and Inter were effectively playing with 10 men for as long as he was on the pitch. His air shot from Candreva's cross in the opening minute set the tone for what was to come, as he messed up everything there was to mess up and offered no positive contribution in a position that he is blatantly not suited to. The fact that we started playing better when Eder replaced him tells us all we need to know.
Elsewhere last night Cesena lost 4-0 to Cittadella in Serie B, and when asked what had gone wrong in his post-match interview their coach said 'it's difficult to analyse a performance that never even existed.' It's a sentiment we can echo for Yoshi's display at the Dall'Ara.
Ivan Perisic - 5.5
He was the least bad of the three behind Icardi but we can legitimately expect much more from Perisic. I thought this game would be suited to him given that Bologna were not going to sit back like Crotone did, but the Rossoblu stifled him effectively and he did little to rebel against the direction his evening was taking. At least he helped out in defence like he always does.
Mauro Icardi - 6
Blondie has fast become Baldie and if you take a look at the score-sheet one might suggest the head shave has done Maurito some good. He took full advantage of the one golden opportunity he was presented with all night by smashing the penalty into the net, saving his team from a defeat that they had been asking for from minute one. But he has to do more to help the team and Spalletti has to drill this into his head.
Eder - 6.5
The only Inter player who deserves a pat on the back for his performance on the night. Spalletti brought him on for the nonexistent Joao Mario at the start of the second half and it was from the Italian international that our second-half revival, if that's not too grand a word in the circumstances, emerged. He came on with the right attitude and provided some much-needed impetus, even without doing anything particularly special, before procuring the fortuitous penalty that enabled us to avoid defeat. (Fortuitous in the sense that he did little to earn it - not that it wasn't a penalty, because it most certainly was. Even amoeba on Saturn could see that it was a penalty.)
Marcelo Brozovic - N/A
Not on long enough to make an impact on the game. Fortunately.
Roberto Gagliardini - N/A
Not on long enough to make an impact on the game.
Luciano Spalletti - 5.5
He had warned his players not to get carried away with themselves both before and after Saturday's win against Crotone, but judging by this performance nobody was listening to him. Inter were awful for the best part of an hour and would have fully deserved to walk away from the Dall'Ara empty handed, showing far less spirit and determination than Bologna and failing to play the kind of football their coach wants.
Indeed it's the complete absence of 'gioco' that's concerning me most at the moment - this is now the third game in a row that we've had enormous trouble putting Spalletti's ideas into practice on the pitch, and when it happens for three games in a row you have to begin to talk of a pattern emerging. If we can't recover the fluidity and speed that we saw in patches against Fiorentina and Roma then we will be in huge trouble this season, because you can only rely on isolated incidents and good fortune to win matches for so long. If we want to finish in the top four this season then we're going to have to make huge improvements on performances like this; that much is for sure.
If one wanted to find a positive to take from this game, they could point to the fact that Inter didn't crumble despite a terrible first-half display and salvaged a point with yet another late goal - our seventh goal in the final 15 minutes of matches so far this season. Clearly this team has some degree of backbone to it and is capable of staying in the game right until the end, even when everyone is playing badly. Maybe that's something for us to cling onto, while we wait for Spalletti to eliminate some of our macroscopic flaws - we may not be alive and kicking yet, but at least we're alive.
(The Joao Mario-Eder change is why I think he deserves 5.5 instead of 5, for the record. Not much else went right for Luciano.)
Man of the Match: Eder
Slim pickings on this occasion. It says a lot about the team’s first-half performance that our best player on the night was a substitute, but there you have it. Eder will never be the monster that Icardi is in the penalty box but he taught his more team-mate a lesson in the 40 minutes he played. He won the penalty that enabled us to level the game and could even have scored a ludicrously undeserved winner right at the end - Spalletti couldn’t have asked much more of him, and you wonder if he may have earned himself a place in the starting XI for Sunday’s match with Genoa.