A title defense strategy has not been agreed to see their manager, and one of the best in the industry like Antonio Conte, leave the house in a flash a few weeks after that title due to disagreements over financial planning. Although to be honest, this is kind of Conte’s finishing move. However, it’s an even worse strategy to fully support Conte’s fears by selling your two best players, Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi, simply because you wanted the money to make up for COVID losses and other discharges (even if maybe it was just a good deal since we’ll see in a second).
It looked like Suning Holdings had gotten its only ball, last year’s Scudetto, and was about to strip Inter in parts to balance the scores. They had already closed their club in the Chinese Superleague. They had incurred a loss of $ 285 million last season, and certainly after the disposals of Lukaku and Hakimi it seemed that Inter’s triumph would be revised as an oddity or an imbalance of the universe due to the pandemic.
Well, after the last round of yesterday’s match in Italy before the holiday break, and exactly in the middle of the season, Inter easily beat Turin, 1-0, at home, seventh consecutive victory in the league (overall score: 20 -2), to leave four points ahead of city rivals Milan and seven points ahead of Napoli at the top of the standings. This is Ewing’s theory of uppers.
How did Inter make up for the loss of their two best players? It never hurts to steal your biggest rival’s best player as a drug. Inter took Hakan Çalhanoǧlu from Milan during the summer, when his contract expired, and entered Inter’s three-man midfield in a 3-5-2 form without any problems. While the loyal Nicolo Barella and Marcelo Brazovic are still in the other two places, Inter rotated to third place last year among an “eh” crew.
Especially after Christian Eriksen no longer allowed to play, Çalhanoǧlu was exactly what they needed before the other two. It was a creative force they didn’t really have in the middle, scoring six times and assisting seven. He already has more key passes (passes that lead directly to a chance) than anyone else at Inter has made in all of last season.
The sale of Hakimi turned into a pretty neat business. They earned $ 66 million for him from PSG, and then replaced him with Denzel Dumphries for just $ 13.7 million. While Dumphries may not be quite the “DEATH FROM THE RIGHT” that Hakimi has been his entire career, and may seem a little lanky at times, he still came in with three goals and two assists as he splits time with Matteo Darmian.
Eden Dzeko’s signing seemed a bit desperate and at the time able to compensate for Lukaku’s departure, admitting all the money in the world ($ 110 million). He’s 35, and even though his goalscoring record in Italy had been almost imperious, his advancing years were making him no less an obelisk. But Inter didn’t need him as their main goal outlet like Roma did, who still have Lautaro Martinez around. The latter has 11 goals, while Dzeko has 8 and is well in tune with the Argentine.
The added threat from Çalhanoǧlu, coupled with Dzeko’s solid presence, made Inter Milan’s biggest offensive force. They scored more goals with 49, nine more than anyone else. They have the most anticipated goals with 41.1, again the maximum with nine. They have the most shots on target for 21. They lead 90 shots. They have the second shortest average shooting distance behind Roma, which means they don’t just shoot from all sides. They constantly get into good spots. And now they can do it from the outside and from the center.
This does not mean that coach Simone Inzaghi left the back door open in search of goals. Inter have conceded 15 goals throughout the season, the second best behind Napoli’s 14. The goal after the shot is also the second best in the league. All of this leads to a goal difference that is a couple of postcodes away from anyone else in Italy at +34, which is in fourth place in the top five European leagues behind Monaco, City and Liverpool (against which they have just been drawn in the round of 16. Champions League, and writing all this doesn’t make my red heart feel any better for that draw).
Inter have been a bit lucky with injuries, as they have been able to field the third favorite defense of Milan Škriniar, Alessandro Bastoni and Stefan de Vrij for practically every match. Inter are not very young, only Bastoni and Barella are under 25 holders, so health could be a bit worrying for the future.
It didn’t hurt Inter that the competition continues to fall headlong into the nearest garbage can. Juventus are a bigger disaster than last year, only now they don’t have the goals from Cristiano Ronaldo that only seem to save them. It seems that AC Milan have buckled under the weight of having to balance Champions League matches for the first time in years, from which they also crashed. They also fail to find a consistent goal, which tends to happen when you depend on All-Star AARP like Oliver Giroud or THE ZLATAN at 40. While Napoli may match Inter’s defensive record, they also don’t have the reliable forwards that Inter Milan have in Dzeko and Martinez. Yesterday’s defeat against Spezia at home is a prime example of their problems, as they mistreated them when it came to ball possession and chances, but they found all their refinements to be agoraphobic.
That doesn’t mean that any title-winning team should immediately give up on their manager and top players, because not all teams see the competition move sideways in response. But it seems to work for Inter.