On paper, Inter Milan’s 4-0 thrashing of SPAL was the result that everyone expected. Inter, though, has managed greater flops before. But not this time. Four goals from four separate players were the highlights of a dominant showing against SPAL, who’s result was rarely in doubt.
Some important news: after eight attempts, I’ve finally gotten Inter’s predicted lineup correct (you can clap).
The match started with an end to end flow that saw both teams strike the woodwork before twenty minutes were up. First, in the 5th minute a low Marcelo Brozović drive from distance grazed off the bottom of the post. Then, SPAL’s Andrea Petagna quickly reacted to a loose ball in the box, and sent a deflected effort off the crossbar.
The game then began to calm down, and the next chance turned out to be the opener. A nice passing sequence from Inter opened up space for Candreva in the top right corner of the box. When the Italian received the ball, he blasted the ball across the goal into the bottom left corner of the net, leaving Letica with no chance.
SPAL would have a decent shout at a penalty later in the half. Gabriel Strefezza went racing to a high, bouncing ball in the box, and reached it ahead of Handanović. The Brazilian sent a shot over the goal, but was then trucked over by Handanović. I thought it definitely could have been called, but VAR decided not to intervene since Strefezza had already gotten off his shot before the collision.
That was that, and Inter went into the break with a 1-0 lead. SPAL has kept it close statistically, with 5 shots compared to Inter’s 7 and 44% of the possession. Inter, though, was deservedly in front as it’s quality shone through.
The second forty-five was a great deal more one sided. The Nerazzurri attack really began to click, and chance became common. To start things off, Alexis Sánchez had a close range rocket saved by Letica in the 52nd minute.
The Croatian was helpless three minutes later, though, as Cristiano Biraghi notched his second goal of the season. The 27-year-old picked up a wayward clearance at the top of the box and cut inside before letting loose a blast into the bottom corner of the goal.
It wouldn’t take long for Inter to add a third, this time on a counter attack at the hour mark. Biraghi sent a short cross to the top of the six-yard-box, where a lurking Sánchez headed home.
Then, in the 74th minute, a rare thing occurred. Ashley Young settled a cross deep in the box, and sent a pass fizzing across the goalmouth. Then, Roberto Gagliardini tapped the ball into the goal, rather than wherever else (there’s a lot of places, as he’s shown us) he could manage to kick it to.
Final score, Inter four, SPAL nil.
This was an excellent performance from Conte’s side, but it has to be said that this is a Serie B side that they’ve just beaten. Still, most of the positives surrounding this game seem more sturdy than that.
First, Sanchez continues to prove his worth as speculation grows over a permanent move to the San Siro. Since the restart, the Chilean has tallied two goals and six assists, the best of any Inter player in that time. Sánchez had one of each against SPAL, and was the focal point of Inter’s offense. Whether he will end up staying at Inter is up in the air, but it definitely wouldn’t be bad to have him next season.
Gagliardini too had a decent game as part of a general good run of form in recent matches. Seeing him score may have brought up unpleasant memories of times he didn’t score, but he deserved it.
But on the other side of the coin, both Lautaro Martínez and Christian Eriksen were largely unimpactful, at least in the final third.
This the combined map of both players touches. There aren’t many dots in SPAL’s box or Zone 14. Against better teams (like Roma), Inter’s going to need more from those two.
The wins against Torino and SPAL have brought Inter to 2nd and six points behind Juve. It’s quite unlikely that Inter will manage to catch up to the Old Lady, but anything’s possible with six games to go.