Inter succumbed to a second 1-1 draw with a disappointing result against Spezia. Inter huffed and puffed but could not find a winning goal despite dominating for the full 90 minutes. Here are some takeaways from the match.
Style With No Substance
After weeks of criticism for their playing style and/or tactics, Inter have put in more aesthetically pleasing displays in their past two matches. Which is fantastic, except we've taken two points from a possible six and started to put a little extra pressure on ourselves going into the final run home. Inter dominated possession (64% vs 36%) and shots (20 vs 1), but that nice little gold stars that come along with winning the statistics are worthless on the table. As a fan of the club, I'd much rather see us go back to 1-0 wins with 30% possession than stumble along with draws.
Handanovic - Part 2
After the Napoli match, I wrote that Handa's mistake was mostly down to bad luck, but the same cannot be said about the goal last night. At first, I thought it was a great finish, but the Slovenian has let the ball go right underneath him this time which is inexcusable for any top-level keeper. It's even more frustrating as he had nothing else to do for the entire match and his teammates were not able to bail him out. The stat doing the rounds this morning is that Inter have managed to concede two goals in their past two matches, despite only facing one shot on target - and that shot was right into the centre of the goals. It's disappointing given our captain was on a good run of form recently and, hopefully, it is just a blip.
The Lukaku We Saw in Manchester
The match with Spezia may well go down as one of the worst we've ever seen from Lukaku in an Inter shirt, and the type of performance EPL fans think he puts in on a regular basis. In truth, a match like this is a real rarity from the Belgian but that doesn't make it any less frustrating to watch. Lukaku struggled to get himself involved today and (as with Napoli) spurned a couple of chances to grab an invaluable goal for Inter. The 1 v 1, in particular, stands out as he looked indecisive and seemed to make his move around the goalkeeper a little later than he should. Inter fans know what a confident Lukaku looks like, and this was not it. It's not uncommon for strikers to go through streaky patches and hopefully (like Handanovic) we see Big Rom return to his best soon.
Martinez Stepping Up
While Lukaku struggled, we saw another excellent performance from Lautaro Martinez against Spezia. His (correctly) disallowed goal was a wonderful finish, and he was unlucky to hit the post with a long range effort in the second half. More and more, the Argentine is finding ways to get involved in the game - whether it be applying pressure to force turnovers, linking up teammates with his ever-improving passing, or his ability to beat his defender. To see a young player develop like this at a time where his team isn't playing to their best and the title is on the line should be incredibly pleasing for Inter fans. Moreover, there is talk that a contract extension has all but been agreed upon. Interisti get to enjoy watching him for years to come.
What to Expect vs Verona?
It may be pessimism, but I think now the match with Verona is a must-win for Inter. Assuming Atalanta take the points vs Roma, Inter's lead will be at nine points when Juric's men come to San Siro. Certainly not panic stations, but to go a third match without a win must start to raise some doubts among the inexperienced members of our side. Remember, with the exception of Vidal, Kolarov and Perisic, none of our players have won a league before and many may have been expecting an easier ride once the lead blew out to 11 points. It's also worth noting that this recent drop has come after Inter played five games in 22 days, so there is bound to be some physical and mental exhaustion creeping in. I wouldn't be surprised if Conte chose to insert Sensi and Sanchez into the starting 11, even if it were to come at the expense of the likes of Eriksen and maybe even Lukaku. Time will tell.
Have we missed anything from the match? Let us know in the comments below!