A 1-0 lead at Camp Nou and a 2-0 lead at Signal Iduna Park. Although neither result held, it’s easy to get swept up by Inter’s potential and demand more.
More than just four points from four Champions League matches, more than just a chance to still reach the knockout stages and more than just second place in Serie A.
It’s a sentiment Antonio Conte certainly holds, as his tirade after Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to Borussia Dortmund revealed a man who believes wholeheartedly in the Nerazzurri cause. Regardless of who lines up against his side, the Italian always believes his players have what it takes to come out on top.
It’s an attitude that’s brought him success at all the major sides he’s coached – Juventus, Italy and Chelsea. It’s one that will likely bring him success at Inter.
However it’s one that runs the risk of grounding things before they even get started at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. It’s only November and it seems as though Conte is already having a crisis of nerves, as his squad’s lack of alternatives has become a reoccurring issue.
To say that Inter lack the depth of say, rivals Juventus, is like saying water is wet – it’s known by everyone that watches Serie A, and even those that may have stopped watching the Bianconeri’s run of success in recent years due to the obvious advantage they hold over their challengers.
That isn’t a knock on the Nerazzurri, it’s simply a fact. It’s one that still exists despite the massive financial outlay by owners Suning over the summer, in which they shelled out close to €200 million in transfer fees between purchases and loans with options to buy.
It’s a record figure for the club, and one that was punctuated by the purchase of Romelu Lukaku for €65m plus bonuses – shattering the previous high spent to bring Christian Vieri to Inter for €43m in 1999.
Yet even with the addition of names like Nicolo Barella, Stefano Sensi, Valentino Lazaro, Cristiano Biraghi and Alexis Sanchez, more is needed to compete in Italy and in Europe. It’s why Conte has been sounding the alarm bells in recent weeks as a small injury crisis has forced his hand on more than one occasion.
The coach has relied on the same group of players throughout Inter’s recent condensed fixture list, and the results are there for all to see. A sluggish draw at Parma, tense victories at Brescia and Bologna, and a stunning yet somewhat predictable collapse against Dortmund.
Once things settle, Conte should take solace in the fact that the Nerazzurri still hold their Champions League fate in their hands, and that his side currently sit just one point back of Juventus – a team they finished 21 points back of last season – in the Serie A standings.
Will he take comfort in those facts? Probably not, as the Italian has based his coaching success on going full speed at all times. It’s what’s turned Inter into a serious Scudetto contender and scrappy European foe under his tutelage after years of biting off more than they could chew.
The foundation for success has thus already been laid. Fresh faces may be brought in as soon as January to speed things along, and even if they aren’t, Inter are on their way to building something great.
It’s not enough for Conte, who wants to sprint to his goals as quickly as possible, but it’s what he’ll have to settler for currently as the Nerazzurri learn to run after years of walking, often times in place.