After what has been a magnificent week for Internazionale, I want to take a deeper look at some key facts and determine Inter’s chances of winning one, two or all three trophies that they won in last season’s treble.
Most of the points are based off results of the teams' recent matches as I believe that is the only true barometer of future success.
During the Champions League game against Bayern, the defensive frailties were all too evident. It is easy to write Inter off by saying they concede too many goals for a team who has any ambitions of winning the Champions League. However, we must keep in mind that Lucio was unfit and Ranocchia is only just getting used to playing at this level.
One key ingredient that is missing is Walter Samuel. I will go so far as to say that Samuel makes Lucio a better defender. Samuel has started individual training and if he can make it in time for the later rounds, Inter’s defense will be much closer to last season’s level.
As Giampaolo Pazzini is cup-tied, Samuel Eto’o was the lone pure striker in Diego Milito’s absence. While Pandev can dribble the ball and thread a neat pass, he will never be a 20 goals per season man. That is the reason why Milito’s return is more vital than ever. He is almost completely fit and should be ready to play after the international break.
A great player like Milito does not become mediocre in the course of a season. If anything, he is a more clinical striker than Eto’o as he requires less chances to convert. Inter’s supposed lack of attacking options will not be so evident once the Prince returns.
One thought that must worry Inter fans is the form of Esteban Cambiasso under Leonardo. This season, Cambiasso has often played in more advanced roles and has had a better goals return so far. However, his customary role of being the deepest lying midfielder now rests with Thiago Motta, more often than not.
Motta does have a better passing range but does not possess nearly the same defensive instinct as Cambiasso. Evidence of this can be seen in Bayern’s second goal where he let the ball get away. Cambiasso is less effective while playing on flank and I for one hope that he gets to play as a defensive screen just in front of the back four—particularly when Inter are playing away in the Champions League.
Dejan Stankovic’s form has also dropped alarmingly over the last few weeks. Is the Serbian good enough to demand a starting position in the first 11?
Too many times this season, Inter has been extremely poor in the first half of games. They fall behind early, only to turn it around in the second half.
Against Palermo, and against Genoa more recently, the team found itself trailing at halftime and playing well below par. However, the second half sees a completely different team that comes storming back to score three, four or even five goals.
How can a team play that differently in two halves of the same game? You can only get out of jail so many times and eventually a team will manage to hold out for a draw or win and given the state of the Scudetto race, a single point dropped can be disastrous.
The team must focus on playing consistently, maybe even wrap the game up by the 50th minute and take it easy for a mid-week game.
Julio Cesar along with the defense in front of him was the immovable object of last season. This season, the defense has looked shaky and so has the goal keeper.
His two mistakes in as many games against Bayern have been well documented. Fans might argue that he had a fine game other than that and in fact saved Inter on numerous occasions. But the way I see it, a keeper of Cesar’s quality, read as any top 10 keeper in the world, is expected to make at least a few world class saves every game just like Sneijder is expected to thread a magical ball through to Eto’o.
Everyone can make an odd mistake, but Cesar has been making them a bit too often. He is over thinking about his initial mistake, which leads to further mistakes. Even over the weekend, he managed to spill the ball, only to be saved by the offside flag against the Lecce striker.
Teams that win cup competitions have keepers who are at the top of their form. If Inter are to win anything, the blunders must end right now.
Inter’s backup players have done reasonably well. Coutinho played his heart out in what was his best performance in an Inter shirt. Kharja has settled in well and is a much more dependable substitute than the mercurial Muntari. Nagatomo brings an additional dimension to the attack and his presence in the Bayern penalty area when Pandev scored the winner is only testament to his attacking prowess.
Marco Materazzi has been a worry at the back all season long. Ivan Cordoba had a good run of games when Ranocchia first came into the side but his performance against Brescia was the worst I have seen for a long time. Chivu’s ability to play center back will come as a saving grace for Leonardo particularly given Inter’s luck with injuries this term.
On a lighter note, I hope Inter have helped Franz Beckenbauer further make up his mind on the demise of Italian football.
In reality, even if Inter wins the Scudetto and Coppa Italia and reaches the semis of the Champions League, it will be a massive success in my opinion. Both those goals are well reachable and anything beyond is simply a bonus.
What do you guys think? Where will Inter win/lose titles this season? As always I look forward to your opinion.