Inter Rising: Could the Nerrazurri Claim the Scudetto?

Inter have had an exceptional start and the Italian giants should be looking to add to their haul of 18 Scudettos under new coach Luciano Spalletti.

The Serie A  has gotten off to a blazing start with three teams staying unbeaten after the first 6 gameweeks. Among the three teams is one of Italy’s most famous sides, Inter Milan. With five wins and a sole draw, Inter look set to be serious contenders in this season’s Scudetto race. Much credit for this must go to the new man in charge, Luciano Spalletti. Spalletti brings with him years of experience of management in Italian football. His two stints with Roma particularly standout. However, the Scudetto has always evaded him. Two Coppa Italia trophies are the only noteworthy titles he has achieved on Italian soil. This season, he,  and the Inter faithful, will be looking to add a Scudetto to that list of silverware.

Inter had a dreadful 2016/17 campaign, finishing 7th and missing out on the European places. As a result, changes were required over the summer, and where better to start than by bringing in someone of Spalletti’s quality. In terms of signings on the pitch, however, Inter did not have the most eye catching of summers. While their local Milanese rivals were signing big names in every position, Inter had a more strategic approach. The focus was set on signing players suited for Spalletti’s system and to avoid making flashy, unnecessary signings. After 6 games, this philosophy seems to be working. Probably their biggest coup during the summer was that they managed to keep a hold of Ivan Perisic and Antonio Candreva. These 2 players will go on to play a big role in the Nerazzurri’s exceptional start.

Keeping Ivan Perisic out of Manchester United’s grasps could prove to be key for inter this season (Source: ESPN)

Spalletti’s men started off the season firing on all cylinders as they put 3 past Fiorentina. It wasn’t the return to the San Siro that Stefano Pioli, the former Inter and now Fiorentina manager, hoped for. Mauro Icardi and co. not only managed to put 3 past Sportiello, but also managed to keep a clean sheet, something they couldn’t achieve in their previous 13 Serie A outings. This would set the tone for games to come as Inter would go on to keep three more clean sheets. With 4 clean sheets in 6 and only 2 goals conceded, Inter have the best defensive record in the league so far. This is in striking contrast to their last campaign when they managed to keep just 9 clean sheets all season. Over the course of the 6 games , their defense has had shaky moments, but they have managed to get the job done.

Under the guidance of Spalletti, Inter have become a clutch team. In the first 6 games, 8 out of their 12 goals (67%) have been scored in the final 15 minutes. As a result, they have won 9 out of their first 16 points in the final 15. As seen with Fergie’s United and Zizou’s Madrid, the ability to score when it matters is what sets Champions apart.  One such display of this clutch mentality was seen in their trip away to Roma in the second gameweek. Inter conceded in the 15th minute and were having a ragged half as a whole. In the second half, however, the game became a lot more open. Inter capitalized on this and managed to turn the game around and win 3-1. If Spalletti’s men can continue to have a knack for scoring clutch goals, their title ambitions will be boosted immensely.

As far as individual personnel are concerned, the Nerazzurri will look to Perisic and Icardi to provide the game changing moments of brilliance. The former has enjoyed his best ever start to a Serie A campaign and will be looking to carry that form through the rest of the season. In midfield, Joao Mario has had a sound start to his second season in Italy. With 3 assists in the first 6, Mario has adapted well to the ‘Trequartista’ role given to him by Spalletti. Behind the midfield, Milan Škriniar has settled well into his new club. He also managed to net a crucial goal in the win away to Crotone. Samir Handanovic has also continued to perform in spite of his increasing age. Although not on the level of Buffon, as Spalletti has claimed him to be, he has done well enough to potentially earn himself a new contract.

Joao Mario has excelled so far in a more attacking role (Source: Bola)

The Final Word

Inter have a well rounded squad, and they should be a strong team under Spalletti’s guidance. Further, the fact that they have no European football to worry about is an advantage that the likes of Napoli, Juve and Roma do not have. Champions League football seems to be the minimum requirement for this season. A top 3 finish would definitely be considered a success. Can they be the Italian champions? There’s no denying that Juve and maybe even Napoli look better on paper, but based on Inter’s recent performances, the fans should be allowed to dream. Come the end of the season, the Nerazzurri’s play-till-the-final-whistle mentality could see them win their first Scudetto since 2010.