First thoughts after the Champions League loss to Real Madrid weren’t great. Los Blancos are a transitioning team, which makes them vulnerable. Plus, the Galacticos they do have aren’t firing on all cylinders if you exclude Karim Benzema.
A home win for Inter would set out the Nerazzurri’s stall and make a statement – Romelu Lukaku may have been sold, but don’t underestimate this side. A late winner for Madrid negated that and led most supporters to believe that a long, hard Champions League campaign lays ahead. However, it’s wrong to jump to conclusions based on a single fixture.
The Group of Delight
There are easier groups. Real Madrid may not be the team of old, but they are still dangerous. The bookies quote them as 18/1 to win the tournament outright. Inter, by comparison, are a substantial 50/1 with the Champions League betting odds in the same market. Of course, most fans don’t expect to be European champions in 2022.
They do expect exciting football and a deep run into the competition, which Group D provides. Firstly, Simone Inzaghi’s men understand the risks of underestimating opponents after finishing bottom of as group last term that included two similar clubs. Secondly, the introduction of the Moldovan team, Sheriff Tiraspol makes the task less daunting. And, finally, Shakhtar Donetsk appear weaker than usual after they were soundly beaten 2-0 in their opening tie.
Even if Madrid are too good for Inter, the door is wide open for the black-and-blues to make it out of Group D and qualify for the knockout rounds. Once that happens, anything is possible.
Strength in Depth
Lukaku has gone and there’s nothing the club can do about it other than start the rebuilding process. The good news is, there is a lot of money to spend on a squad that is already pretty healthy. Sure, it can be better and, hopefully, it will be, yet it’s arguably strong enough to compete in Serie A and Europe.
The attacking options at Inzaghi’s disposal showcase this to a tee. Lukaku was part of a wonderful partnership that included Lautaro Martínez, who hasn’t gone anywhere. Edin Dzeko, a striker with a proven pedigree, has arrived from Roma and Joaquin Correa has an eye for goal. He scored two on his debut against Verona.
Frankly, and the Serie A top goalscorer betting market agrees because all of them are among the top 12 favourites, there is enough firepower to go toe-to-toe with most sides in Europe. That’s without Alexis Sanchez who can change a game from the bench.
Last season’s Champion League campaign was a disaster. Without Lukaku, it’s tempting to assume that Inter’s opportunities will be reduced. But it isn’t necessarily the case. For one thing, finally clinching the Serie A title in May will have given the team a tremendous lift.
Not only that, but the management has only sold a couple of integral players other than Lukaku, such as Achraf Hakimi and Ashley Young. The majority of the squad is the same, with a few experienced winners thrown in for good measure.
Hakan Calhanoglu says he will sign his Inter contract on Tuesday, with Milan having failed to convince him to stay…https://t.co/Yj9zXbIDLr
— AS English (@English_AS) June 21, 2021
This is important because the mentality of the team will be different. The players go into games knowing that they belong at the top level. This belief may be the difference between a largely successful season in Europe and the club’s previous dismal attempt.
It’s not the start anyone hoped for, but there’s no need to be negative right away. This Inter squad has a lot going for it, like potentially going deep in the 2021-22 Champions League.