Last weekend was great. Inter Milan won its first game of the season, beating Bologna 3-0 to put the grand total points of the new-look Nerazzurri to exactly 4 points in three games. It wasn’t exactly what we were expecting in the summer, but here’s to hoping that the international break fixes some things for us: the current iteration of the squad is a far cry from the finished product, crumbling under aggressive and high pressure, often failing to place incisive attacks, still resorting to excessive crossing to create chances.
While there are some positives (Kwadwo Asamoah and Matteo Politano playing their boots off, great possession by Inter, great tactical flexibility), it’s fair to expect better performances in the future, from guys in the Starting XI to the last man at the end of the bench (Yup, even Joao Mario).
While the win over Bologna was sweet, it came with an unusual sight:
That’s Captain Mauro Icardi in street clothes, watching from the stands. The Argentina striker did warm up with the rest of the squad, but was suddenly dropped, replaced by Keita Balde. While Keita didn’t have the best of games, having been literally dumped in the starting spot, the team somewhat played faster and marginally better, and he might be able to improve in this false 9 role if he gets to play it more often. But then, if he plays it, that means that Icardi would eventually be left out.
This is not an argument about which player is better, which is more suited to the system: Icardi is miles ahead of the Senegalese forward, and he’s the reigning top goalscorer of Italy, the captain of the squad; the part about the fit in the system? I don’t know.
I’m regularly defending Icardi’s value to this squad, his uniqueness, why he should be playing even when it looks like he’s doing nothing, just standing around or walking. But even I can see that the man has not been playing effectively: He’s been missing sitters, botching game-winners, looking very useless, and failing to nail 50 touches in the two games he played, combined.
At this point, last year, Icardi already had 5 goals. He counts exactly zero this year, and unless you’re counting his assist to Ivan Perisic against Torino, so far, he’s not really making an impact. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Spalletti didn’t play him because he wanted to try and see something else, because Icardi’s ability to stay in the box allows the opponent to play a low defensive line, which Inter has a very hard time breaking, most of the time. Playing Keita was the alternative, enabling to play faster and higher up the pitch.
But while I’m talking that much about an (hypothetical) Icardi problem, the weekend’s feat wasn’t actually officially related to bad form. Apparently he picked up a thigh injury and he couldn’t actually play, like, for real. Injured that he is, he seems to be able to train:
#SelecciónMayor Los jugadores @MauroIcardi y Lautaro Martínez, ambos con molestias musculares, realizaron trabajos diferenciados. pic.twitter.com/yuPkJ4fKLe— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) September 4, 2018
Problem is, Icardi also said that he was “fine” when he was asked about the injury by the media, in the US. Like wait, does that mean that he’s fine now, or that he was fine then, but still got benched? I’m confused. He didn’t look too happy about it either:
That’s his overjoyed and zealous reaction to the Radja Nainggolan opener on Saturday. I get that he must be mad, not playing and all that. It’s not that he’s giving away a bad body language or anything, it’s just that there’s…nothing.
I’m probably reading too much into this, freaking out with my conspiracy theories and whatnot, jumping to conclusions when everything seems to be going fine so far. It’s still very early and Icardi or Spalletti hasn’t done anything wrong. Players get injured every time, get benched so often. But I have to ask: What’s going on here, people?
What do you think? Post your comments below!