The Nerazzurri traveled to Turin in a match that mattered for little else except pride. If we thought this would be a quiet Derby d’Italia, were sorely mistaken as a series of controversial incidents drew the ire of fans from both sides. I honestly don’t remember much from the game other than the madness of Calvarese, so only three takeaways from me today:
Who Were These Guys?
Interisti have gotten used to consistency this season. Week in, week out we have seen solid performances from whichever eleven players took the field. In recent weeks we saw a lot of rotation, but the players still displayed the quality to which we had become accustomed. Against Juve, however, Inter looked a shadow of themselves. They looked like a team that had spent the last few days eating BBQ and organizing fake boxing matches. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised given the immense mental fatigue the guys must be feeling after such a turbulent 13 months, but I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed that we weren’t able to showcase our best in Turin – especially after going winless in the Coppa Italia. Something to aim for next season, I guess.
Inter Still Struggle Against a Deep Block
Antonio Conte’s teams are brilliant on the counter, and Inter is no exception. Very few individuals are able to match Hakimi or Lukaku in full-flight, and our entire midfield is adept at playing long balls into space for our forwards/wingers to attack. However, this game-plan is predicated on the other team leaving space behind for Inter to attack. This doesn’t always happen, particularly if our opponents either take the lead or go down to ten men. Against Juve, both of those things happened and we saw the Bianconeri fall back to a very deep, defensive line reminiscent of the Allegri-era. I can’t criticize them for that either – it was the smart move in a match like this and they did it brilliantly. The concern for Inter is how they still struggled to create clear-cut chances despite their advantage. Often the solution has been to throw Sanchez on and allow him to move between the lines, but this may not be a solution much longer if rumors that the Chilean is on the market are to be believed. Perhaps this is an opportunity to throw Eriksen/Sensi into the #10 role that was tried earlier in the season. Either way, this is something that Conte will need to work for next season, particularly if he wants Champions League success.
An Appalling Display of Refereeing
It’s never good when the referee is the major talking point of the match – especially a big game like this. Personally, I prefer when referees let the matches flow and there are minimal stoppages. I must be honest and say I didn’t think either penalty should have stood, but if you call the first you have to call the second. I would have been furious if an Inter player had received a second yellow the way Rodrigo Bentancur did, even though I technically see why it was given. If those calls were ‘iffy’, the remainder was a disaster. It seemed that the referee became very trigger-happy with the whistle, and lost control of the match.
The whistle which preceded Lautaro’s (pretty beautiful) volley was obscene. The attempt to disallow Inter’s equalizer was ridiculous. In both cases, I’m sure the referees are instructed to let the sequence finish and allow VAR to review it should it lead to a goal. This is the rule for offside, and it means that no valid goals are disallowed. I don’t even know where to start with the Cuadrado penalty or the fact that it wasn’t reviewed by VAR. Had it gone against Juve, I’m sure Pavel Nedved would’ve done more than kick some advertising boards or abused a referee at half-time.
The thing is, none of this affects Inter in the slightest. It hurts to lose to Juve, yes, but I’m sure watching Handanovic lift the cup next week will make up for it. However, it had massive ramifications for the top four race and significantly complicated matters for both Milan and Napoli. Both sides would have qualified for next season champions league already had the penalty not been given and would have an extra 50m euros with which to plan their 2021/22 seasons. Fans of those clubs should be furious, and Serie A should be taking action to lift the standard of refereeing in the future – or at least explore ways of making referees explain their decisions.
Any other thoughts from the match? Let us know in the comments below