Inzaghi with Challenging Assignment Ahead

After the highs of winning the Serie A title, Inter Milan have taken a different path with the sudden departure of manager Antonio Conte.

Simone Inzaghi is the man who has been tasked with mounting the Nerazzurri’s title defence, and it looks set to be an exciting, fresh challenge for the former Lazio boss.

Inzaghi Set for Biggest Challenge

Inter enjoyed a superb 2020-21 Serie A campaign, as they finished 12 points clear of nearest rivals AC Milan. Conte has his own way of doing things, and those who didn’t fit the hard-working profile soon find themselves out of the picture. However, the Italian was able to garner the winning mentality at the San Siro that he had been able to achieve in previous positions at Juventus and Chelsea.

Where Inter fell short, and where Inzaghi must seek improvement, came in Europe as the Nerazzurri finished bottom of their Champions League group. Inter, who are 40/1 in the football betting to win the Champions League title next season, saw Real Madrid, Borussia Monchengladbach and Shakhtar Donetsk all finish above them in the standings. With just one win in six games, there is plenty of room for improvement for the newly crowned Italian champions in Europe.

What will make the challenge even greater for Inzaghi, both in Europe and domestically, are the reports Conte left Inter after being asked to cut costs in the squad. Inzaghi looks like he will have to be flexible when it comes to incoming and outgoing players, which will be a real test of the 45-year-old manager’s credentials.

New Boss Must Build on Defensive Foundation

Inzaghi will have at his disposal a strong team that has developed that all-important winning mentality. Inter’s success last term was founded on a strong defence, as they only conceded 35 goals in their 38 league games. It was a remarkable achievement for a side that were also the second highest goalscorers in the division.

Building on that impressive defence will be key for Inzaghi, who managed to win the Coppa Italia and two Supercoppa Italianas during his time in charge at Lazio. The Inter hierarchy have clearly seen enough of Inzaghi to give him the reins of the Italian champions, with the former striker being handed a two-year deal.

Expect Juve Reaction

Having seen their nine-year domination of Serie A come to an abrupt end, Juventus will be looking to come back stronger next season. Andrea Pirlo saw his side finish in fourth place, before the rookie head coach was given his marching orders in Turin.

With Massimiliano Allegri back at the helm, Juve are set to be serious title contenders once again, and it will be up to Inzaghi’s Inter to stop the Old Lady from climbing back to the top. The new Inter boss will need to hit the ground running, but the hierarchy at the San Siro seem confident they have got the right man for the job.

Nicolo Barella: Is His Long-Term Future at the San Siro?

Since arriving at Inter Milan from Cagliari, Nicola Barella has established himself as one of the most integral players in Antonio Conte’s system. Not only that, but at the age of 24, the Italian is rapidly developing into the complete midfielder. Because of his impressive rise to superstardom, the Cagliari-born playmaker would have plenty of suitors should he opt to depart the Nerazzurri. However, a long-term career at Inter isn’t out of the question. So, let’s consider whether he should stay in Italy for a little while longer.

A Strong Relationship with Conte

Under Conte, Barella has been indispensable to the three-time Serie A-winning manager. Following their respective arrivals at the San Siro in 2019, the pair have developed a trusting relationship. In an all-action style like Conte’s, having the Italian coach’s faith is of utmost importance. Thus far in their time working together, there can be no doubts that the 51-year-old has taken Barella’s game to the next level.

On January 17th, 2021, goals from Arturo Vidal and Barella saw the Nerazzurri defeat the reigning Serie A champions, Juventus. Following the match, Conte described the 24-year-old midfielder’s performance against the Old Lady as “perfect in every aspect”. In response, the Cagliari-born playmaker stated that the former Chelsea manager has developed him as a player because of his straightforward attitude.

It’s a testament to Barella’s quality that the club views him as their next long-term captain after Samir Handanovic, according to Football Italia. For an Italian player, captaining the 18-time Serie A winners would undoubtedly be a great honour. In Barella’s case, few can argue that he hasn’t earned the opportunity, and heightened responsibility may be pivotal in retaining his services for the long term.

Could He Swap the San Siro for the Premier League?

Due to his impressive form in 2020-21, Barella has piqued the interests of various clubs. Along with Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hostpur, Liverpool are reportedly prepared to pay £56 million for the midfielder, with Georginio Wijnaldum going the other way on a free transfer. Statistically, it’s clear to see why the Reds want the Italian, who has three goals and six assists to his name in 24 Serie A matches this season. By comparison, Wijnaldum has two goals and no assists in his first 26 top-flight games in 2020-21.

However, it isn’t only English clubs that are circling around Barella. According to FC Barcelona Noticias, the 24-year-old has caught the eye of Barcelona and Real Madrid. Because of their history and reputation, few players pass up a move to Spain. As of March 3rd, the Catalan giants are 10/3 in La Liga betting to win the league in 2020-21, but their midfield undoubtedly lacks someone of Barella’s quality. With a lack of clarity hanging over Lionel Messi’s future, Ronald Koeman may need to launch a rebuild project over the coming months, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Italian became a primary target.

Plenty to Achieve at Inter

Although historic clubs may be keen on Barella, Inter holds all the cards. Having signed him permanently in the summer of 2020, the Nerazzurri don’t need to sell their star midfielder. Plus, with the prospect of becoming captain on the table, the 24-year-old could be at the heart of returning Inter to the pinnacle of domestic and European football, which could be too tempting to refuse.

The Importance of Conte in Serie A Success

A sleeping beast is the term used to describe Inter Milan by many – a club enriched in history and success, yet one that hasn’t seen much of it since the glory title and champions league winning spell of Jose Mourinho. But under the relatively new guidance of Antonio Conte, Inter appear like all is beginning to click.

The manager’s impact has been absolutely essential. Having almost departed the club in light of Europa League final defeat to Sevilla last season, the Italian mastermind has come back this season with a vengeance. Topping Serie A after a victory in the Milan derby last time out, Inter appear to be firing on all cylinders. 

But this is no fluke from Conte, none whatsoever. Although they started the league as a general second favourites with most bookies at thebestcasinos.co.uk, Inter Milan have proven that they are no longer playing second fiddle to the Old lady in Turin. They really are the side to beat. 

Conte started the domination of Serie A with Juventus – a period that saw them win title after title. He turned around a club that had fallen from grace in light of match fixing scandals, to one of Europe’s elite. And for those who thought that was an easy task, we move on to Chelsea. Again, he took a team that had struggled in the couple of seasons prior and turned them into title winners in his first season – no mean feat in the most competitive league in the world, a league containing Manchester City, to name just one. 

His time at Inter has been revolutionary. Deploying his much-loved 3-5-2 formation, with wing backs bombing on, he’s given space and freedom to the creative attacking duo of Lukaku and Martinez. Just like he did at both Chelsea and Juventus, he’s taken a team that had been starved of sustained success and transformed them into genuine contenders on all fronts. 

His passion, dedication and drive for success is clear for all to see. But, most importantly for Inter fans, his results are too. This could be the start of a very special dynasty, for one of the world’s most under-rated, under-stated, but very special managers.

How Good Can Lukaku Get?

Romelu Lukaku was a player with quite a bit of promise in his early years. A product of Chelsea F.Cs expansive youth system, Romelu cut his teeth in the physicality of English football. With a towering 6’3 frame and over 200 pounds of muscle, he dominated back lines throughout his teenage years, and into senior football. After almost a decade in the English top-flight, Lukaku spent time in West Bromwich Albion, Everton, and finally at Manchester United. It wasn’t to be, it seemed. Despite a sound output of 42 goals in almost 100 games, Old Trafford’s fans never seemed to entirely warm to him. His touch, perhaps his main point of contention, riled up fans to no end.

Lukaku was a target man, forced to be a playmaking, hold-up striker. In the end, he was an expensive player that couldn’t fit into United’s plans. Ed Woodward and his team at Manchester sought to quickly shift Lukaku away, and recoup what little cash they could from the deal. After the agonising reality of Alexis Sanchez’s 300k-a-week wages for less than 10 goals in his United career, Lukaku left for Inter Milan as a markedly less costly, but albeit frustrating departure.

Since then, Lukaku has dominated Serie A. With 34 goals in 51 games in his debut season, he was clearly a player who didn’t fear the famously robust Italian defensive playing-style. He combined pace with power that left centre-half veterans chasing shadows and a killer instinct in front of goal that gave Milan the edge they needed. From set-plays, through-balls, or lobbed passes over the top, Lukaku was integral.

Source: Unsplash

Defensive Doubts

One of Lukaku’s major issues, at least back in his youth, was a perceived lack of defensive efforts. In the words of his manager, Antonio Conte, he was a rough diamond. Speaking to DAZN, Conte explained that he can get stronger with work and that he had the potential to become one of the best strikers in the world.

Conte went on to say that “He is on the right track, as he has everything, the physicality of a centre-forward, but also the pace and power of an American football quarterback.” Sitting deeper, almost a false-nine in the Inter Milan line-up allows Lukaku to share the burden of both attack and defence. The upside is that he can carry a team like Inter – one full of playmaking, dynamic attackers like Erikson and United alumnus Alexis Sanchez as a figurehead. It seems he simply needed to grow up a little on the pitch and share the two sides of the game to move forward.

Source: Unsplash

Continued Quality

His form hasn’t dipped in the current season. 12 goals in 13 games by December 2020 prove that he’s still not been figured out yet. As an out-and-out poacher, Romelu seems to have massive potential, even as he enjoys his peak at 27 years old. His performances are rubbing off on Milan’s prospects, too. Latest Serie A betting indicates Inter Milan are currently 8/11 to qualify for the final 16 in the Champions League. To reach anything beyond the quarter-finals would be considered a huge crescendo, and the pinnacle of their achievements if they could manage it.

Despite everything, he also managed to become Belgium’s leading scorer surpassing past records set by Bernard Voorhoof and Paul van Himst. He now sits at 57 for his nation. That’s the thing with Lukaku. For all his inconsistency, lack of a soft touch, and decision-making – criticisms that have dogged him most of his career – it seems that wherever he goes he manages to find the back of the net. He’s not someone who relies on having a team being built around him, nor does he need special treatment.

Ironically, he’s the exact sort of player United are now crying out for.

Can Inter Milan Win The Seria A Title This Year?

With the Seria A being wide open this year due to Juventus not looking like the side that has won nine consecutives in the past nine seasons. Because of this, it has blown the league right open with multiple teams now looking as if they can go on to win the title. Due to this, Inter Milan have now become the front runner when it comes to winning the league this year; is this the year that they get back to greatness?

[Image: Goal]

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Inter are currently favourites for the title priced at 9/4 for the league and are currently sat in 2nd position in the league behind bitter rival’s AC Milan. Inter will know that they are the more experienced side though with star quality littered all over their field. However, for us, the deciding factor when it comes to why we think this might be the year for Inter is that they have Antonio Conte as their manager, and he is a born winner. He has won trophies everywhere he has managed including winning the Premier League in his first season at Chelsea in which is probably the hardest league in the world.

Furthermore, to this, they have one of the best strike partnerships in the whole of Europe currently with Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez who seem to work fluidly together and really complement each other’s qualities. This partnership is the definition of Little and Large with Lukaku being that big target man with strength and hold up play but also the ability to score from wherever with 12 goals in 11 games this season. Martinez is the small, pacey and direct striker that puts fear into opposition with his insane dribbling skills and has added 6 goals in 11 appearances this year. If these two keep scoring, they’ll be on their way to the league title.

And finally, Conte is known for his defensive set up and one that he uses his man-management skills to ensure that the system that he desires is implemented in his defenders. Typically, he likes a strong defensive pack at the back and with the experience of Stefan de Vrij and Milan Skriniar, this seems to be working like clockwork at the moment.

 

[Image: AlKhaleeej Today]