Inter is fine even without Lukaku and Conte, although in the summer they almost did not spend. And that’s why
Last summer, Inter’s fans had little cause for joy. Almost immediately after the long-awaited victory in the championship, it became known that Antonio Conte would leave the club . The reason is the uncertainty of the project and the absence of guarantees for the preservation of the composition. The bosses of the club did not hide the fact that some of the main players would have to part with in order to close the debts. And quite quickly they let Hakimi go to PSG for 60 million. And at the end of the summer there was another blow: the departure of Romelu Lukaku . For him, “Inter” rescued a lot of money, but it was no longer a matter of money. The first sale was enough. Lukaku himself insisted on the transfer, and against the background of Conte’s departure, the loss of the leader looked very alarming. So much so that fans even staged protests.
It became even more alarming when Inter decided not to spend the money they raised for Lukaku to find another star striker. The Milanese quickly signed Dzeko (free), and a couple of days before the transfer window closed, they rented Lazio’s Correa. Yes, lease with an obligation to purchase (for 30 million), but the approach itself indicated that for the club economy is in the first place. Correa and Dzeko are not a replacement for Lukaku, not even so much in the number of goals as in leadership qualities.
Having staffed according to the principle of “cheap and cheerful” (other signings: Chalhanoglu for free and Dumfries for 12.5 million), Inter intrigued, but looked like a clearly weaker team than it was in May. Now, after five rounds of the championship and the start of the Champions League, we can draw the first conclusions.
It makes sense to start with the coach. Simone Inzaghi had a super difficult task: it is impossible to compare with Conte’s charisma, and the players have not yet had time to get tired of the coach’s exactingness. A very flexible behavior was needed. And while it seems that Inzaghi has found the right intonation. In the media, he always emphasizes how pleased he is with the squad and how much he enjoys working with high-profile footballers.
After Conte’s dogmatic nature, some indulgences work in a plus. For example, speaking about the difficult victory over Fiorentina, he singled out Perisic: “Ivan has not played in attack for more than a year, but now he spent 10 minutes in this position and scored a goal. Sometimes you just need to follow your instincts. ” It is inconceivable that Conte would say something like that. And after the defeat in the match with Bologna, he admitted that Dumfries adapts to the team faster than Inzaghi himself expected from him. Again, the very fact that he is releasing a tactically unprepared player at the base is already a powerful contrast to Conte.
In tactical terms, Inzaghi did not start a revolution, but within the framework of the previous scheme he makes the team more his own. Inter began to score even more at set points: already five goals since the beginning of the season (for the whole last year there were 11), they have retained an emphasis on counterattacks and are still experiencing difficulties in positional attacks. The rally has become even more vertical, and possession of the ball has decreased even more, although Inter has never played a top rival in five rounds.
In general, the desire in any incomprehensible situation to give the ball to the opponent is just a trait inherent in Inzaghi, even more so than Conte. A case in point: even in the game with Sampdoria, in which Inter lost points and had to spend the entire second half at the wrong goal, even in that match, Sampdoria had the ball a little more. Not much, but in such a situation, Inter’s radical advantage would be more logical.
But it does Dzeko’s favor. He is less involved in the rally than Lukaku, he can turn off for periods, but he explodes in a timely manner in the penalty area. His performance at the start of the season – four goals and an assist in six games – is beyond expectations.
A couple more small innovations. Brozovic’s new roles and center-backs are one of the most notable changes. At the beginning of the tenure, Brozovich sits down in defense and sometimes actually forms a bundle with de Vrey, while Shkrinjar and Bastogne get freedom when connecting to the attack. This breaks down the defensive bonds of opponents and helps create space for attacks.
What is noticeably lacking is the ability to overcome the pressure due to vertical passes. This is a consequence of the loss of Lukaku, which Inzagi has not yet compensated for. It leads to serious problems with opponents who are pressing high. For example, in the match against Fiorentina, when the champions were driven for half an hour, and Handanovich could not move the game away from the goal. Previously, the problem was solved by the fact that Lukaku took the ball (it could even be given from the bottom), covered with his body and either waited for his teammates to catch up, or turned around and in tank mode rushed to the gate himself. That is, “Inter” received, if not a moment, then at least a respite, and the option itself held back the pressure of the opponents, requiring them to be careful. Now the command can be easily pressed.
Inzaghi is trying to solve the problem with the help of horse casts on Dzeko, and this is already bearing fruit (for example, Fiorentina’s first goal was scored after Handanovic was knocked out and the fight was won in the air), but the model of getting out of defense has not yet been worked out to the point of automatism.
Another drawback (the severity of which is still difficult to predict) is that the team lacks functional readiness for the whole match. It was worth, for example, the match against Real Madrid in the Champions League. “Inter” surprised Madrid with a rally (just by the displacements of Brozovic and Shkrinjar), personally pressed, created several chances, but did not convert, and in the second half he did not pull out such a pace, came under counter pressure and lost.
There was such a problem under Conte last fall. There were enough players for one half, and then problems began. Inter got the best form of the season. Is this part of the plan now? It is controversial, firstly, the fitness coach also changed, and secondly, Lazio Inzaghi had a characteristic feature: a powerful start to the season and a weak ending. This is perhaps the main concern: that this fall version of Inter will remain the strongest in a whole year.
But this version is impressive. This is by no means an invulnerable team without weaknesses, but it was impossible to survive the summer without consequences at all. But the potential for growth is visible: due to the adaptation of Dumfries, a better exit from the defense, and simply the return of the injured. It’s not just about Eriksen, whose future is unknown. Vidal, Sensi, Sanchez and Correa have already missed some matches due to injuries. Three out of four are traumatic, but they are unlikely to be permanently inaccessible all together. Although, by the way, this is also a reason for concern: the depth of the composition is not great, and the same Dzeko and Lautaro are constantly, because there is no one to replace them until Correa returns.
Against the background of the problems of Juventus, which was too unexpectedly left without Ronaldo, this version of Inter looks, if not the favorite of the championship, but at least a contender for the Scudetto. Not bad for a club that sold 200 million in players in the summer and bought them for 35.