As we suffer through another international break, let’s assess Inter Milan’s performance so far this season. With approximately one-third of the season in the rearview mirror, Inter currently sits first in Serie A and is tied for the group lead (on points) in the Champions League. Read on to see how this compares to the past three seasons, including their Scudetto-winning campaign of 2020-2021.
In contrast to the current season, Inter did not hold the top position in Serie A during the initial 12 weeks in the preceding three years, including their Scudetto-winning 2020-2021 campaign. Below are the league standings for the top of the table for the past four seasons after 12 matches:
Presently leading the Serie A table, Inter occupied the fifth, third, and second positions in the preceding three years. In looking at the tables, this season Inter has conceded the fewest goals of any Serie A team over the past four years and has the greatest positive goal differential.
The primary distinction this season, compared to the previous three, including their Scudetto-winning campaign, lies in Inter’s defensive performance. They have allowed a mere six goals in 12 matches. Although the offense has scored fewer goals than in the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 seasons, it remains one of Serie A’s most prolific during this four-year period.
If Inter’s defense maintains its ability to limit opposing teams to an average of less than one goal per game, their chances of securing a second star look very promising!
Having only played 12 games, the level of competition may have influenced the results. Thus, we take a look at the competition Inter has faced over the first 12 matches. To simplify, Serie A is broken down into two categories: the other six of the Seven Sisters (AC Milan, Atalanta, Juventus, Lazio, Napoli, Roma) and Others. Here are Inter’s results through 12 weeks:
One thing stands out from the table: Inter’s performance against the other Seven Sisters this season, where they have emerged victorious in every contest so far (in contrast to the preceding two years when struggles against top teams were a significant factor in the title race). While facing comparable competition levels in the past four years over the initial 12 games, their success against fellow Scudetto contenders has markedly improved, while results against other teams have remained relatively consistent.
In addition to a very strong start in Serie A this season, Inter Milan’s results in the Champions League through four games are also favorable, as shown in the comparison below:
Outside of 2020, when Conte was in charge of the Nerazzuri, the team has done very well in the group stage. This campaign, they are still undefeated and have already qualified for the knock-out stage.
This season’s group stage presents a less challenging level of competition for Inter. Rather than encountering the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich in different group stages, they are now facing a formidable Real Sociedad but comparatively weaker teams in Benfica and RB Salzburg. Similar to their Serie A performance, Inter is conceding an average of 0.5 goals per game in the Champions League (two goals in four matches).
Could reaching the UCL final be a viable prospect this season? The team has shown greater strength and operates more cohesively compared to previous seasons, although it’s worth noting that last year they benefited from a favorable draw in the knockout stages. Judging by their current form, Inter appears to be among the top six teams in Europe. The determining factors for their UCL journey will hinge on the caliber of their knockout stage opponents and the team’s fitness during the critical period from February to May 2024.
While Inter has been very successful on both fronts this season, their schedule through the end of this year is very challenging. It starts with three consecutive road games - domestically at Juventus and Napoli, with a trip to Benfica sandwiched in between. They also face road trips to Lazio and Genoa, as well as home contests against Udinese, Bologna, and Lecce.
The Bologna match is a Coppa Italia elimination match, so if Inter is to defend their title it will be a must-win game against a tough opponent they had recently struggled with. Their UCL home match against Real Sociedad will probably decide who wins the group and would theoretically have the easier path through the knockout stages.
By Christmas, we will know if Inter controls their destiny in the Scudetto race, who they will face in their first Champions League knockout tie, and if they are in a position to defend their Coppa Italia title. It will be a very interesting end of year!
What have you seen as the main factors for Inter’s biggest improvements this season? How likely are they to win the Scudetto? Will they make a deep run in the Champions League? Can they win the Champions League? Share your thoughts below.