Conte’s Inter strangled life out of Scudetto race

Date: 3rd May 2021 at 1:50pm
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Until Achraf Hakimi raced away in injury-time to double Inter’s lead against Crotone at the Stadio Ezio Scida on Saturday evening, ultimately helping secure the Scudetto this weekend, it was a performance and result that epitomised their success this season.

Immediately after leapfrogging bitter rivals AC Milan at the top of the Serie A standings, Inter recorded consecutive 3-0 victories over the Rossoneri and Genoa, however, with first place solidified, a more pragmatic Biscione slowly tightened their grip on the title.

Over the last 10 rounds of fixtures, Antonio Conte’s side have scored a relatively porous 14 goals, yet have won 26 points from a possible 30 available, because of a defensive resolve that have seen them concede just five during this period.

While the neutrals may prefer the swashbuckling and entertaining Scudetto challenges of Atalanta or Napoli, although Inter have scored as many Serie A goals as the Partenopei this term, Conte will take great pleasure in how his players have secured him a fourth Serie A title.

Crotone aside, each of the Nerazzurri’s last seven league victories have been by a solitary goal and the 51-year-old will hold their four 1-0 triumphs in high esteem, considering how poorly Inter had been defending earlier in the campaign.

During the opening 17 rounds of the season, Inter kept just one clean sheet – another 1-0 win over Napoli on matchday 12 – but once the former Chelsea coach had resolved an unwanted ability to concede unnecessary goals, their title challenge took off.

Defensive resolve was clearly the basis for the Nerazzurri’s second-place finish in 2019/20, with 17 clean sheets allowing goalkeeper Samir Handanovic to collect the award for the most Serie A, but were some way off that total this term.

Starting with Conte’s first victory over former employers Juventus in mid-January, though, Il Biscione followed that 3-0 win with consecutive clean sheets against Udinese, Benevento and Fiorentina, and a week later looked down on the rest of Serie A.

However, the last few months should not disregard this side’s ability to entertain and simply outscore the opposition, and more appreciation should be shown to Inter’s ability to transform into a ruthless and efficient point-winning machine, that slowly crushed the Scudetto hopes of others.


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