The warning signs were there well before kickoff at the Olimpico Grande Torino Sunday evening; no Marcelo Brozovic, barely any rest after a draining but futile victory over Liverpool, and a visit to Ivan Juric’s dogged Torino. And unsurprisingly, Inter wobbled to a 1-1 draw against the Granata which further casts doubt on the Nerazzurri’s title hopes. Only a last-minute Alexis Sanchez equalizer spared Inter from defeat, but the damage had already been done.
Simone Inzaghi was forced to look to his bench with Marcelo Brozovic and Stefan de Vrij out injured, replaced by Matias Vecino (I prefer not to speak...) and Andrea Ranocchia respectively. Matteo Darmian got the nod over Denzel Dumfries as well. Torino, meanwhile, lined up in Juric’s beloved 3-4-2-1, headlined by Inter-target Bremer, Milan-loanee Tommaso Pobega, and Andrea Belotti.
It didn’t take long for Torino to draw first blood after a shaky opening from Inzaghi’s side. Gleison Bremer knocked home a loose ball in the box on a corner 12 minutes in.
It only took Gleison Bremer 12 minutes to give Torino the lead over Inter. pic.twitter.com/rZl2jIkZGA— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) March 13, 2022
Torino almost doubled its lead via a low Belotti strike from inside the box but Handanovic managed to keep it out. Inter slowly regained its wits with some long spells of possession but ultimately nothing came of it. The Nerazzurri hearts were in its mouth again in the 35th minute after a coming together between Ranocchia and Belotti in the box that sure looked to be a foul, but the referee saw nothing untoward even after checking the VAR monitor (not sure how but I have no complaints).
That’s 100% a penalty on Belotti. But but but Rubentus… pic.twitter.com/75EEU3sWHc— Jjuli (@jjuli_007) March 13, 2022
By the time the interval arrived, a 1-0 deficit flattered Inter. Torino tallied 8 shots compared to Inter’s 3 (3 on target each), along with the clear penalty on Belotti. Inter looked clueless against Torino’s press and physicality, with the absence of Brozovic once again looming large.
Inzaghi brought Dimarco and Gosens on for Bastoni and Perisic respectively in an attempt to spark Inter into life. The Nerazzurri created a few half-chances after the break, with Vecino narrowly missing the target with a flick-on from a Dimarco free-kick before the latter had a close-range attempt of his own saved. The best chance of the game yet for Inter came in the 68th minute when a Calhanoglu cross found a wide-open Dzeko deep inside the box, but once again, the Bosnian’s wayward header amounted to nothing. Inter began to pour numbers forward in search of a leveler as the second half wore on and Sanchez and Vidal entered the fray.
Torino’s rock-solid backline thwarted the visitors time and time again, however, while Dzeko missed another golden header opportunity in the 88th minute. Torino missed a superb chance of its own as Pobega poked a close-range effort wide on the counter in the second minute of stoppage time. That would come back to haunt the Granata when Sanchez buried Inter’s long-awaited goal in the 93rd minute. It’s hard to feel very excited, however, knowing that not only did the Nerazzurri leave two vital points on the table, but put in a performance that failed to resemble anything worthy of the champions of Italy.
FT: Torino 1-1 Inter— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) March 13, 2022
Alexis Sanchez's stoppage time strike rescues a point for Inter Milan.⚫ pic.twitter.com/yKTO1hgjUr
Handanovic - 6.5: Not his fault on the first goal and made a trio of important saves to keep Inter in the game whatsoever.
Bastoni - 6: Yanked at halftime after a mild performance, with a limited impact on both sides of the ball.
Ranocchia - 5: Very lucky not to get called for a pk after his coming together with Belotti and generally looked out of sorts.
Skriniar - 6.5: Inter’s best defender on the night but still far from his best. Led Inter in touches (65), made 3 tackles, won 4 duels, and completed 4 accurate long balls.
Perisic - 5: Taken off at halftime after an anonymous 45 minutes, consisting of 0 key passes, 0 crosses, and a 71% passing rate.
Calhanoglu - 6: Struggled to get on the ball consistently thanks to Inter’s overall midfield woes but made it count when he did. Had 4 key passes, 3 accurate crosses, 2 successful long balls, and consistently dangerous set pieces.
Vecino - 4: Nowhere near starting quality and it showed. Had just 44 touches, a 62% passing rate, and 14 giveaways in a horrendous showing.
Barella - 6: An active but not entirely successful evening from Barella. Won 7 duels, had 2 key passes, 2 long balls, and 2 crosses but lost possession 13 times and had a 79% passing accuracy.
Darmian - 5: Barely made a dent. Had just 44 touches, 0 key passes, 0 crosses, and got dribbled past twice.
Dzeko - 4: A night full of missed chances and giveaways for the Bosnian. Let two clear cut chances go begging and led Inter in possession lost (20 times). Got the assist on Sanchez’s goal but calling that a silver lining would be flattering.
Lautaro - 4.5: Couldn’t turn his goals against Salernitana and Liverpool into any sort of run of form. Had just 26 touches, 0 key passes, and 1 shot before an early exit in favor of Sanchez.
Gosens - 5: Came on at halftime for Perisic but was far from an upgrade. Had 28 touches, no crosses or key passes, and next to nil impact in the final third. Still, the clear backup for now until he regains full match fitness.
Dimarco - 6: Offered much more attacking threat than Bastoni after replacing him at halftime. Notched 51 touches (fourth most on Inter), 6 crosses, and 2 key passes. He should have had an assist as well if not for some haphazard finishing.
Brozovic - 10 (Man of the Match): At this point, his agent could probably demand absurd wages and Inter would have no choice but to accept. Brozovic is Inter’s most important player by far and it’s a blemish on the front office’s record that they haven’t found a suitable back-up after all this time. Maybe Lucien Agoume is that guy, but if Inter doesn’t get its act together it’s going to have to worry about a replacement instead of a backup for our beloved Croatian.
Inzaghi - 4.5: Got everything wrong in the starting XI. Ranocchia over D’Ambrosio was a surprise and proved to be the wrong call, while Vecino has business being on a football pitch anywhere. He wasn’t hesitant to make subs at least but it felt more like Inzaghi was throwing everything at Torino and seeing what would stick rather than putting an actual plan into action.
Inter falls to third, four points behind Milan and one short of Napoli. Juventus, meanwhile, have closed the gap down to three points. Not great! Next up for the good guys is a home game against Fiorentina on Saturday, immediately followed by an international break. Inter does have a game in hand on all of the teams around it, but the Nerazzurri can’t afford any more missteps if it wants to be champions again come May.