Inter Milan vs. Chievo: 6 Things We Learned
Walter Mazzarri was in need of a good result against Chievo, but he didn't get it. The 1-1 draw at home to the minnows from Verona follows a 1-0 loss away to Lazio and Inter's exit from the Coppa Italia at the hands of Udinese.
Chievo were on a run of poor form too, and in the midst of the relegation candidates. It was a fixture they won't have been looking forward to. They won their first ever game against Inter at the San Siro back in 2001, but have lost their last eight visits so the point they secured will be a welcomed boost for the Flying Donkeys.
It hasn't been an easy few days for the Nerazzurri. What can we take from this game?
Early Strikes Don't Always Promise Goal Fests
Whenever one or both sides score early, it's tempting to believe that plenty more are on the way—but unfortunately football doesn't always work like that.
Ricky Alvarez had a good opportunity in the opening minutes for the home side in this fixture, right before Boukary Drame made a great run to confound the Inter back line and set Alberto Paloschi free.
The nightmare looked to be over for Mazzarri's men when Yuto Nagatomo brought them level, because the Nerazzurri went on to dominate the game. Unfortunately, Nagatomo's second was incorrectly ruled offside and Inter were unable to find another.
Perparim Hetemaj Is Worth Watching
Perparim Hetemaj might not be a household name, but the 27-year-old has been one of Chievo's best performers so far this season and had another great game against Inter.
Born in Kosovo but an international for Finland, the midfielder played well when asked to defend and was always working to get forward. He is his team's top assist-maker this term—albeit with only three—and is an excellent passer of the ball.
Not one for the very best teams, perhaps, but if Chievo fail to avoid the drop this season it's unlikely they'll be able to hold on to Hetemaj. Plenty of mid-table sides could use a creative and hard-working midfielder like him.
Ricky Alvarez Is Currently Inter's Best Player
A lot of people would probably have told you this before the Chievo game as well, but the match was just another illustration of the Argentine's explosive talent.
Nagatomo was on target on the night, but only thanks to the work of Alvarez. Not only was he the creator for Inter's only goal, but he also forced a fine save from Christian Puggioni in the Chievo goal shortly after.
Alvarez is a rare positive in an otherwise tough period for Inter, and though he's gone eight games without a goal, he's vital to the Nerazzurri attack, sets up more goals than anyone else and has more man-of-the-match performances than anyone else in an Inter shirt.
All the talk might be about what the loss of Fredy Guarin would mean, but it's Alvarez who Inter should be clinging most tightly to.
Inter Need Goals
Until recently, Inter were the most free-scoring side in the league. Now they're fourth, behind Roma, Napoli and Juventus. And worryingly for Inter, they conceded more goals than the Giallorossi and the Bianconeri combined.
Inter have outscored just two opponents in the last eight league games, and have found the net only twice in their last three.
The defence continues to cause problems for Walter Mazzarri, so if his side are to start winning games again he'll need to get the forward line working quickly.
It's Good That Diego Milito Is Back—but Inter Can't Afford to Depend on Him
Diego Milito received a warm welcome when he came on for Inter in the second half, but affection shouldn't blind Interisti when it comes to the veteran Argentine.
The 34-year-old has more than a goal every two games to his name while in the Inter shirt—a record that most strikers would envy. But he's been out of action for a year, and at his age it's not certain that he can return to his old best.
Against Chievo, Milito looked out of sorts. That's probably rustiness to a certain extent, though it is true that he also lacked any real service in the later part of the game.
It's only natural that Inter fans—and his manager—will wish that he can get back in shape soon, but with so much on the line, neither can afford to put all their hopes on an ageing forward with injury problems.
Mateo Kovacic Has Been Mediocre This Season—but It's Not His Fault
When a player has sacks of experience at the highest level, it's no big thing to move him around the pitch.
Legends like Javier Zanetti have impressed pundits and fans alike with their ability to adapt to new positions and provide their managers with more options—but it's not something that you can ask of everybody.
Mateo Kovacic is just 19, but was hotly tipped to be a great player having impressed from a young age at Dinamo Zagreb in his native Croatia. Despite this, he's had a difficult start to life at Inter and his performances have been anything but inspiring of late.
It's not his fault. Kovacic can play in an advanced role or deeper in the midfield, but Mazzarri needs to decide where he wants him and give the young Croat a decent run of games in the same position. Against Chievo, he struggled in the more forward role left open by Fredy Guarin's absence, but most because he was often guilty of drifting back into a more central part of the pitch.
Kovacic could be a great player for Inter, but he'll never settle into life in Serie A if he's moved across the pitch every week. Other players—like Zdravko Kuzmanovic, in particular—were just plain poor against Chievo, but Kovacic looked more uncomfortable than incapable. He deserves a chance to make a position his own.