If you had any doubts beforehand, rest assured! The winter crisis is officially upon us and there’s no denying it any longer. Inter whimpered to a draw against 19th placed Genoa, seeing hopes of a second straight title slip further and further away. As worrying as the result is (and boy is it worrying) the absolutely awful performance is even more nerve-wracking. If this is how Inter plays against relegation fodder, well, we can kiss any hopes at silverware goodbye. The Nerazzurri’s dreadful attack reared its head once again, and despite 21 shots, a mix of disastrous decision making, wayward finishing, and a lack of quality meant Genoa’s clean sheet survived against what once was the best attack in Italy.
Despite a week off in between games, Inzaghi sprung a few surprises with the XI. Lautaro and Milan Skriniar were dropped in favor of Alexis Sanchez and Danilo D’Ambrosio, while Bastoni and Brozovic returned from suspension.
Genoa almost took a shock lead in the 8th minute when Albert Guðmundsson jumped in behind only to send his one-v-one with Handanovic wide of the target. The hosts continued its strong start with a scattering of half chances but before long action settled into lengthy spells of Inter possession. The Nerazzurri couldn’t make much happen, however, in large part thanks to dedicated pressing from Genoa that broke up Inter’s rytyhm time and time again. By the time halftime arrived Inter held a 75% edge in possession but registered just 6 shots compared to Genoa’s 4, with both teams putting one on target each.
Play commenced in much the same fashion after the break, and once more Inter was starved of clear opportunities in the final third. The good guys’ first real look on goal came in the 62nd minute when D’Ambrosio headed a Calhanoglu corner off the upright. That was just about it, however, despite the introductions of Vidal, Lautaro, Dimarco, Vecino, and eventually Caicedo for his debut. A late charge towards the opposition goal ended up fruitless for Inter and the Nerazzurri’s winless run continued with a dreary 0-0 draw. Though it boasted 73% of the ball and 21 shots (a mere 4 on target), Inter’s expected goals was a mealsy 1.16, little more than the 0.77xg tallied up by Genoa from one third the shots. What I would give to go back to the days of that free flowing, high-scoring Inter...
Handanovic - 6: A clean sheet for the captain! Also faced just one shot on target the whole match, but hey, zero goals conceded counts the same no matter what.
Bastoni - 6: A quiet evening from Bastoni. Had the third most touches on Inter and 5 accurate long balls, but a passing rate of just 86% and only one duel won. Also got caught out on Guðmundsson’s early chance.
de Vrij - 6: The Dutchman avoided the type of catastrophic error that’s been his calling card recently, so there’s that. Also won 6 duels, made two interceptions, and had a 93% passing rate.
D’Ambrosio - 6: Surprising to see him start, but Danilo didn’t disappoint. Won 8 duels and made 4 clearances and 4 tackles. He came closer to scoring than anyone as well. Was a bit lose in possession, however, completing 79% of his passes.
Perisic - 5.5: Not a vintage evening from the Croatian. Got into threatening positions several times but lacked the end product, finding the target on just 7 of 19 attempted crosses and long balls.
Calhanoglu - 5.5: Not awful from Hakan, but also far from what we know he can do in an Inter shirt. Made 2 key passes and 11 cross attempts, but rarely found a target. Was loose in possession as well, giving the ball away 20 times.
Brozovic - 5.5: A rather mediocre showing. Led Inter in touches (112) and passes (80) but was repeatedly disrupted by Genoa’s pressing. He had a few nice switches (6 accurate long balls) but all too often couldn’t do anything to break the staleness in Inter’s possession.
Barella - 4.5: Barella’s run of poor form continued. Remember how he used to notch assist after asists early in the season? Well, we haven’t seen that form of Barella for a while. Made next to no appearance in the final third and got pushed to the side in the center of the park by Stefano Sturaro of all people.
Dumfries - 5: Dumfries huffed and puffed down the flank but ultimately had nothing to show for. Had a measly 67% passing accuracy and only one cross attempt.
Dzeko - 4: Age has caught up with the Bosnian and he looked sluggish all night. Also drops deep way too often to help with the build up. He’s Inter only real target in the box and with the emphasis on crossing, it makes no sense to have Dzeko in midfield adopting the role of play maker.
Sanchez - 4: Simply not starter material. Barely made an impact and even Lautaro was an improvement on him. Time to permanently use the Chilean as a super sub.
Inzaghi - 4: Another concerning showing from the manager. Tried to be too cute with the starting XI and waited too long for changes. The team’s mentality is also a huge concern and that falls on the coach; we all saw how determined and ruthless Inter was under Conte, who matched that personality. Inzaghi on the other hand seems unsure of himself and nervous, and that’s showing in the team. It’s too early to call for a sacking but this is a pattern that repeated year after year at Lazio as well. If he can’t fix that at Inter with far more resources at his disposal, one has to question Inzaghi’s long term future at the Meazza.
Anyway, in the end, this is just a group of eleven guys kicking a football around. I’m gonna go take a walk and try and forget about what we just endured.
On the ‘bright’ side, Milan also dropped points to Udinese so Inter remains two points back of first (though Napoli can take the lead with a win over Lazio). In truth, though, it’s pretty hard to think about this team making any sort of Scudetto push right now, so perhaps a more realistic standings update is that Inter’s lead on fifth could drop to 8 points after the weekend.
Like always, Forza Inter!