It really wasn’t the way Inter Milan wanted to start the season, but there is a lot we can learn from the 1-0 loss at Sassuolo.
Here are our five takeaways from the season-opener.
We desperately need midfield quality
In this loss, there are many things to critique. The most obvious problem was the lack of presence in the midfield. Matias Vecino and Marcelo Brozovic were both decent defensively.
However, I lost count of the poor passes and turnovers. The first half was particularly bad. There was absolutely no creativity from the midfield and build-up play was nonexistent due to this. We can lump Lautaro Martinez into this discussion as well. Lautaro started this game in the attacking mid position behind Mauro Icardi.
Martinez showed signs of flair and creativity but I believe he is at his best when he only needs to make one or two touches before firing at goal. My gripe with Lautaro in this position is that he tends to go down easily or look for a foul when he should be making the decisive pass to create scoring chances. It is now apparent more than ever that Inter need a creative playmaker in the center of the midfield. Obviously, Radja Nainggolan was massively missed as he continues to get back to health (and scope out ladies). The hope is that his inclusion to the lineup will inject life into the midfield. If that doesn’t solve the problem, we will be looking forward to the January transfer window earlier than ever.
The camerman just snitched on Nainggolan. pic.twitter.com/2XC2jx63XT— FutbolBible (@FutbolBible) August 19, 2018
Kwadwo Asamoah is our left back
Today we saw an experimental lineup by Luciano Spalletti. With Ivan Perisic still not at full fitness, Asamoah took his place on the wing. That left you know who in the left back spot, Henrique Dalbert.
Boy oh boy... it did not take long for Sassuolo to take advantage of that. Dalbert simply did not have the quality today to deserve a spot in the starting squad. Domenico Berardi flat-out used him in the first half. If it wasn’t for some heroics by Joao Miranda and Samir Handanovic, we could be looking at a far worse scoreline due to Dalbert.
Spalletti quickly remedied this issue at the half by bringing in Perisic and pushing Asamoah back. The left side was far more productive and far less porous in the second half after the switch. Moving forward, let’s hope Spalletti keeps it that way.
Fitness is an issue
The opening week of the season always brings surprises. There are new faces in new places, refs returning to action, and players not at peak fitness.
For the Nerazzurri, we knew of this issue going into the day. Several starters were benched as they were unready for competition. Others who did start looked unready for the match as well, whether it was fitness, rust, or too many off-season beers. The sloppy pitch did no favors for the two sides either.
Matteo Politano was a great signing
One of the lone bright spots of this match was the play of Matteo Politano. Perhaps it was the motivation of playing his former team, but the Italian looked pretty darn good out there on the right.
While most of the team was sloppy and dull, Politano looked dangerous on the attack. His slashing runs in toward the box were some of the only moments of excitement for Inter fans today. The touch and footwork on that right side was great. His passes were mostly crisp and his shots, while inaccurate at times, had some venom to them.
In addition to all of that, he looks to be worth the money for his set piece deliveries alone. Overall, there was some really promising stuff from this young man and for that he would be my man of the match. I’m looking forward to seeing Politano, Lautaro Martinez, and Keita Balde all light it up with Icardi this season.
Luciano Spalletti has work to do
The loss to Sassuolo showed plenty of flaws in the team.
The good news is that most of these problems can be solved through training, coaching, and tactics. I have total faith in Spalletti to get the team’s head right, their fitness up, and the lineup optimized.
There are very high hopes for this campaign from the Inter faithful, but it clearly won’t be easy. After signing a three-year contract extension earlier this week, the manager must still prove his worth and turn things around quick. I’m already looking forward to the next week and seeing an invigorated Inter Milan.
What do you think? Post your comments below!