Another week and another miserable performance from Inter. With the way the team is playing right now, the very definition of a winnable game needs to be updated, if one even exists! With no wins in eight in Serie A (ten in all competitions) and five draws in succession, Spalletti and his men seem to find a way to plumb new depths each week. Here are five takeaways from Inter’s draw against Crotone:
1. Start fringe players and new signings
The introduction of Rafinha and Yann Karamoh injected new life into an otherwise dull performance. Their ability to run at the opposition and take them on rather than play a passive holding game made Inter look more dangerous. A lack of involvement in the recent downward trend is actually an advantage for the squad’s fringe players as it leaves them with less “baggage” and they might be able to perform more freely than some other members of the team such as Borja Valero and Antonio Candreva who almost appear to be treading on eggshells every time they step onto the field.
2. Inter squad in need of a sports psychologist
Looking at all the evidence, one has to really pin this post-December capitulation down to mental causes more than anything else. If fatigue was to be blamed, the team should have come firing out of the blocks after the winter break but that has certainly not been the case. The slightest hint of optimism from fans and the pressure of modest expectations have transformed this group into a shadow of their former selves. Of course, one can also attribute the pre-December wins to luck but the performances towards the end indicated otherwise. Luciano Spalletti desperately needs to look at refreshing his players else the fans should get accustomed to watching Ivan Perisic and others completely devoid of confidence and without any ability to shoot on target and score. As Richard Hall puts it, perhaps Saplletti should have invested in a sports psychologist during the January window!
3. Leaky Defense
It is safe to say that Inter are now completely incapable of keeping a clean sheet. Once the team goes up a goal, instead of going from strength to strength, the play becomes tentative, and the opposition starts to look the better side (whether home or away). Invariably a goal is conceded, and after that, it is a case of holding on till the final whistle. Inter have now conceded a goal in each of their last four games. A similar defensive record during the first half of the season would have made that unbeaten run far less impressive if it included four fewer wins. Back in the fall, Spalletti’s team was rightfully praised at being able to grind out wins while not playing particularly well, but unfortunately that ability to fight for wins has completely deserted this group. Individual mistakes, poor marking inside the box, and a lack of concentration has led to slip-ups at the worst possible moments and precious points have been lost as a result.
4. Lack of leadership on and off the pitch
Early in the season fans and observers alike praised Spalletti for the job he was doing at Inter. Players such as Yuto Nagatomo and Danilio D’Ambrosio looked rejuvenated. A consistent starting eleven took to the pitch and ground out results with almost metronomic efficiency. However, today the same Spalletti seems incapable of changing things up when he needs to. The nature of the squad does not make his task easier either. Teams have figured out Spalletti’s Inter and know how to neutralize his inflexible tactics. There have been a sufficient number of games now where Inter’s performances have been insipid and uninspired and questioning Spalletti’s role in all of this is no longer premature or knee-jerk. Having said all of that, placing all the blame at Spalletti’s feet is also unfair as it is the players who are doing the famous Black and Blue stripes a disservice with their recent performances. Inter are desperately lacking a leader on the pitch who can demand a win from his comrades.
5. Very few reasons to be optimistic
If this was a scenario where the team’s performances were great and they had just been on the wrong side of some bad refereeing calls or freakish goals scored against them, one could at least take comfort in that. But no, the current situation is much more dire than that. Inter’s recent performances have made SPAL and Crotone look like top ten teams. Gone is the fluid passing and in its place is a slow possession game, and crosses made more in hope than conviction. At the current moment it is difficult to predict how the tide will turn and where the next positive performance will come from. The San Siro had close to 50,000 spectators for the game against Crotone, even though Inter (Inter Milan) are going through this rotten spell. If only the players showed the same level of passion as some of the fans, doubtless many of the recent results would have been more positive.
Until next week, Forza Inter!
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