Inter’s 2-0 win over Napoli was a prime example of both their strengths and weaknesses, in a night where the glass was half full for the Nerazzurri.
The Milanese side took all the three points from a game in which they were rewarded for their efforts, although it is quite evident that the match could have unfolded in a different way if Napoli hadn’t repeatedly missed the chances to equalise in the first half.
But the aggressiveness that Inter showcased since early on was a clear sign of their determination – the approach could have proved risky but Antonio Conte’s side understood that bravery was crucial to outdo a tough opponent that has learned the skill to wait and counter-strike under boss Gennaro Gattuso.
Once again, the Nerazzurri showed they can already perfectly work as a team when everyone is fit, but they need to find better solutions on an individual level. In fact, Inter’s major strength can also be considered their biggest weakness – when such intensity is put on display, like against Napoli, they not only need to find the opener, but also have to wrap up the game before their energy runs out.
Against the Partenopei the strategy at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza proved effective, but Napoli had several occasions to write a plot twist, but that never came. In order to prevent such situations, Inter must find a way to maintain their high rhythm for a whole match.
It’s well known that Conte’s style of play requires relentless work from his players and that’s why they need to bring in more, and the signing of Achraf Hakimi is a great starting point.
Also, the Biscione have to raise the level of their individuals in order to rely on them when things don’t go as planned, just like Juventus and Lazio have been doing this season with the likes of Paulo Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Alberto or Ciro Immobile.
Alexis Sanchez is certainly the kind of addition Inter should look for, but players such as the Chilean are required in more areas of the pitch.
As for the tactical approach, their last home game showed that the Nerazzurri are feeling increasingly confident with a 3-4-1-2 formation that includes a trequartista, a tweak that Conte had made in order to accomodate the inclusion of Christian Eriksen, but one which has ended up bringing out the best from veteran Borja Valero.
With the Spaniard free to move closer to the attacking duo, Nicolo Barella has become even more pivotal in keeping the team balanced, as his great stamina means he can cover wide portions of the field with his relentless running.
Whilst the new formation boosted the team’s offensive potential, it also partly jeopardised their old compactness. Inter were clinical against Napoli, but it hasn’t always been the case since the restart, as some opponents were able to snatch points in games that the Nerazzurri had controlled for long periods.
If they want to find the consistency they have lacked this season, Conte’s outfit have two options – either restoring their defensive solidity or improve their attacking prowess, as this season proved a middle road which wasn’t enough to end Juventus’ Serie A dominance.
Gattuso can be happy
Napoli boss Gattuso won’t be content with the final result but he can be more than satisfied with the impact he has had on a side that were deeply struggling before his arrival.
After steering the Azzurri to a surprising Coppa Italia title, the team have already earned a Europa League spot and therefore have little motivation for the remaining matches.
Nevertheless, after watching Inter lay siege to the visitors’ goal in the opening stages he showed his charisma by sparking an immediate reaction from his men, who were also unlucky not to find the equaliser.
It is certain that, judging from their quality, Napoli are worth a top four finish, and this is a promising foundation for the former AC Milan boss to build on next season.