Nowadays there are several clubs that, after succeeding during decades, have fell into mediocrity. Being used to battle for trophies and suddenly changing their goal to qualifying to European competitions seems to downgrade the entity´s dignity. There are two clear examples in Italy and they are both from the same city: AC Milan and Inter Milan. We are going to analyze the ‘nerazzurra’ squadra.
This historical club, whose last title conquer took place in 2011 (Italian cup), have not only got back to dreaming, but also to feel that fighting for the ‘Scudetto’ is a reality and, therefore, a requirement. The man that has taken Inter Milan into the next level is Antonio Conte. The well-known Italian coach signed in May 2019. In his first season, he has ended second on the table, only a point behind Juventus. His team was the one to concede the less goals in the entire league (36) and also the one that scored the most (81). On the other hand, they fell in the UCL group stage and so they went into the Europa League, where they lost in the final to Sevilla. They reached the semifinals at the Italian cup and were knocked out by Napoli.
These outcomes, with a bittersweet taste for their fans, were possible thanks to a brilliant technical work. Conte has portrayed his playing philosophy in a club where, since Mourinho left, never had a top level coach. He sticks by his ideas until the last consequences. A proof to this is that he had the courage to reproach to the Board of Directors in public that his players and staff were the only responsibles for what they pulled off last year and that the directing area did not protect them.
Conte met up with them after their lost to Sevilla and reached an agreement to stay at Inter under his conditions. We must remind you that the growth of the team is due to the investment by the Suning group, who became the owners of the club in 2016. The current President, Steven Zhang, was named in his position in 2018, being the youngest to be on this role in Inter´s history (27 years old). There should not be any complaints about his job until today, and there is no doubt that the measures they are taking are allowing them to return to the European Elite.
Inter´s President Steven Zhang. Via inter.it
The main reason for Inter Milan to accomplish higher goals in the 20-21 campaign is their solid system: ball movement starting from the goalie all the way to the opponent´s half is one of Conte´s obsessions. This is one of the best teams in Europe at playing the ball from backwards. The system clearly makes that easier for them: 3-5-2, with Marcelo Brozović as the compass in the midfield where Nicolò Barella and Stefano Sensi build the plays thanks to their vision and creativeness. Sensi is the key factor in the team to break pressure lines thanks to his excellent passing and ability with the ball on his feet. On the other side, Barella is known to be an all-terrain: hard worker and efficient on defense; and decisive at finishing thanks to his shooting skills.
Full-backs are also a key aspect on their system: they provide the team with amplitude and make runs through the gaps from one side to the other. When falling back, they turn into a 5-line man defense that strengthens the block. The players that have stood out at these positions so far have been Ashley Young and Antonio Candreva. We can´t forget about defense, where all the back centrals are both good on the ground and at sending long throws. Stefan de Vrij, Diego Godín and Alessandro Bastoni have all been important players. The last one, who is only 21 years old, has taken a step forward as a secured player who also has a bright future. This way, the media have already reported Barça´s and Manchester City interest on signing him.
The diamond is forward: Lautaro Martínez and Romelu Lukaku have consolidated a perfect duo that has scored up to 55 goals including the Serie A, Champions and Europa League. The Belgian displays an unstoppable backwards playing strength that allows his teammates to receive the ball facing the goal right at the box. It is an important resource when the team is pressed with the ball: Bastoni is the one in charged, and also the best at this role, to send him long passes in order to reach the box fast and easy. Another one of his weapons is the power in his runs, where no one can hold him back. On the other side, Lautaro Martínez stands out for his movements and outstanding fitness, added to the fact that he is able to combine with the rest of his teammates and has a great shooting technique. All these aspects make Inter Milan an unique team.
Inter´s 2019-20 Ideal XI. Vía chosen11.com
New season also brings new signings, some of them very important to improve the team. This way, a position that really needed to be reinforced was the right back. Even though Candreva has done well with conte, his age and lack of consistency defensively were an issue. Achraf Hakimi, 21 years old, has joined Inter Milan with the mission to upgrade that wing. His abilities at dribbling and passing make him a threaten on the opponent´s half. Moreover, he also defends well. The left side has also been strengthened with the addition of Aleksandar Kolarov. The veteran full-back can both play in the wing or in Bastoni´s position. Among his best qualities are his ball kick and passing.
The last signing for Inter Milan at the moment is Arturo Vidal, an experimented footballer that already succeeded under Conte at Juventus. His transfer generates doubts about his role on the team. According to his characteristics, he does not seem to be a better midfielder than Barella or Sensi. It is not likely that he takes over Brozović´s spot either. We will see in the next few games.
The team has some new faces that, however, were already club´s property: Radja Nainggolan, Ivan Perišić and Dalbert Henrique have all returned from loan and have participated in preseason. They are not going to stay for sure, but they do not have any other option expected. Sells´ regarding, we must mention Godín´s transfer to Cagliari. This opens the possibility for both the coach and the Board of Directors to add a new player for the defensive area. Transfer market is not over yet and the roster can have changes.
What it is clear is that the time has come for Inter. The group knows the way they play, they have strengthened themselves where they had to and Conte has provided his players with experience and hierarchy. After being on verge of the Serie A title and reaching an European final, the next step must be to battle directly with Juventus in order to conquer the ‘Scudetto’. Furthermore, a proper performance at the Champions League is expected and the initial goal is to make it through the group stage. The National Cup will also be a huge opportunity to earn a trophy after nine years of drought. Casually, this was the last competition the ‘nerazzurri’ won. This way, a new and exciting season is about to kick off for Inter fans. The show must go on.