The disaster that has become Inter’s 2022 has no end in sight. Simone Inzaghi and Co fell to a second straight 1-1 draw against a feisty Fiorentina, and now the Scudetto looks like nothing more than a dream (that’s what one win in your last seven can do). Like against Torino last week, Inter can have no complaints with the result. By just about any metric Saturday’s affair was as even as you can get: Fiorentina had 17 shots (4 on target) to Inter’s 13 (5ot), expected goals read 1.05-1.00 in favor of the Viola, and neither side had overwhelming spells of dominance. And for a team that *should* be doing so much better, that simply isn’t good enough from Inter.
Simone Inzaghi was forced to do without Marcelo Brozovic and Stefan de Vrij once again, so Danilo D’Ambrosio slotted into the backline while Hakan Calhanoglu slid into a deeper midfield role with Arturo Vidal taking his place on the left. Other than that it was a completely first-choice XI with the likes of Robin Gosens, Alexis Sanchez, and Joaquin Correa on the bench. Fiorentina lined up in Vicenzo Italiano’s 4-3-3, headlined by Krzysztof Piatek and Nico Gonzalez leading the attack.
Action got off to a lively start with both teams trading half-chances in the opening minutes. Samir Handanovic was called into duty on two long-range efforts from Gonzalez and Ricardo Saponara that forced a diving save out of the Slovenian. Inter’s attack took a bit longer to get going and the Nerazzurri once again seemed to be lacking creativity in the final third. Its best chance came in the 37th minute when a loose ball fell to Edin Dzeko in a one-v-one with Piero Terracciono but the Viola keeper closed down the Bosnian quickly and made the save. Inter thought it had opened the scoring shortly after when Lautaro knocked home a Denzel Dumfries cross but the Argentine was narrowly ruled offside. That was that for the first half after a not exactly inspiring performance from Inzaghi’s side. Inter totaled just one shot on target from six total attempts and needed a number of key defensive plays to keep Fiorentina, who notched 11 total shots (2ot) from finding the opener. The visitors looked much more confident and dangerous but Inter was still very much in the mix going into the break.
Inter came out of the break with a new intensity and came close to breaking the deadlock in the 47th minute. A close-range shot from Vidal forced Terracciano into a diving save before Barella skied the rebound. That miss came back to haunt Inter moments later, as Lucas Torreira edged the visitors in front in the 50th minute.
Lucas Torreira with a strikers finish!— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) March 19, 2022
Fiorentina stun Inter at the San Siro. ☔️ pic.twitter.com/GbxVv5RaDu
The Nerazzurri responded right back in the 55th minute and drew level via the wingback connection, with Dumfries heading home a Perisic delivery.
Heads up! Denzel Dumfries answers back. pic.twitter.com/BuavlK2a5p— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) March 19, 2022
With the floodgates open, proceedings turned into a back and forth, topsy turvy affair. Inter thought it had a penalty in the 66th minute when Lorenzo Venuti was judged to have taken down Lautaro Martinez in the box but a VAR review wiped it off for a handball in the build-up. Inzaghi went to his bench soon after and brought on Alexis Sanchez and Joaquin Correa in search of a victory. Italiano countered with the introduction of tricky winger Jonathan Ikone, who proved lethal on the counter. Despite a desperate need for three points, Inter failed to take charge and rarely got within striking distance of Terracciano’s goal. The hosts’ best chance came in the 89th minute when Sanchez had an attempt deflected narrowly over the bar from within the box. Fiorentina almost had the last laugh, however, with a 3-v-2 break in the 94th minute. Ikone sliced through whatever defense remained but Handanovic made a huge save on the Frenchman’s shot. And that was that. Two more points dropped, though it just as easily could have been all three.
Handanovic - 7: One of the few Inter players with something to be proud of yesterday. Made a number of key saves that preserved some of the Nerazzurri’s dignity, but ultimately it didn’t mean much.
Bastoni - 7.5: Superb as always from the Italian. Had 2 clearances, 4 interceptions, 3 tackles, and 4 duels won, including a magnificent stop on Gonzalez who would have been in on goal otherwise.
Skriniar - 7: A rock at the back. Made 3 clearances, blocked 2 shots, had 1 interception, and entered into 12 duels. Also led Inter in touches (which isn’t exactly a good thing team-wise, but that doesn’t take away from Skriniar).
D’Ambrosio - 6: Had a fairly anonymous evening, but that was in part thanks to Saponara’s relative ineffectiveness rather than any fault of D’Ambrosio. His only concern was on the ball, where he lost possession 11 times and never looked too comfortable.
Perisic - 7: Constantly caused Venuti problems down the flank and notched a second assist of the season with a stellar cross to Dumfries.
Vidal - 6: Nothing much to write home about for the Chilean, but he was 100 times better than Vecino last weekend. Had a 93% passing rate, 1 key pass, 1 clearance, and 2 blocked shots.
Calhanoglu - 6: Unsurprisingly failed to make any sort of impact in the final third in the deeper role usually filled by Brozovic, so he wasn’t exactly set up to succeed. Nonetheless, Calhanoglu was definitely not at his best yesterday, losing possession a team-high 19 times and going 0 for 7 on crosses.
Barella - 5: Committed two costly errors that gave Fiorentina the lead, first missing the rebound on Vidal’s shot and then losing mark of Torreira on la Viola’s opener. Barella also struggled to make a consistent impact in the center of the park, notching just 53 touches (two less than Handanovic) and a pass accuracy of 79%.
Dumfries - 7: Capped an up-and-down performance with a well-taken goal but left a bit to be desired across ninety minutes. Cost Inter a few times with questionable decision making on the final pass and wasn’t able to take advantage of the space Fiorentina afforded him. Most importantly, though, he got the goal and maybe could offer Dzeko heading lessons.
Dzeko - 4: You wouldn’t think someone that stands at 6’4 would be able to disappear so easily, but that’s what Dzeko did against la Viola. Had just 27 touches, a 64% passing rate, and a single shot.
Lautaro - 4.5: Didn’t fare much better than his strike partner. Notched 30 touches and 0 shots of any kind, but did manage three key passes and an 82% pass accuracy.
Inzaghi - 4: Thankfully abandoned the Vecino at regista experiment and went with the best starting XI on paper (a Lautaro-Dzeko combination upfront clearly doesn’t work but they’re the best strikers on the roster). Inzaghi’s subs didn’t help the cause either. Correa and Sanchez have had even less luck upfront than Lautaro-Dzeko and the South American duo barely made a dent. Furthermore, his complete lack of willingness to change from the 3-5-2 even when it so clearly isn’t effective is infuriating. Even Conte would change shape when Inter needed a goal but Inzaghi has proven himself to be even more stubborn.
Inter is now six points behind Milan and three short of Napoli, while Juventus has closed the gap to one point ahead of the Derby d’Italia after the international break. The Nerazzurri’s lock on the top four remains secure for now, with Lazio and Atalanta able to draw within 8 and 9 points respectively should they win Sunday.
Inter will be back in two weeks thanks to the international break, which gives us all a welcome respite.