With the Genoa sun beating down on the Stadio Luigi Ferraris on Sunday afternoon, you could understand why the Inter players looked so exhausted leaving the pitch after an energy-sapping 2-2 draw with Sampdoria in Serie A, that ended their perfect start to their attempted Scudetto defence.
However, while the weather, on the back of a three-game international break for many of the players, will have played some part as Simone Inzaghi’s side struggled to impose themselves, it should not be used to detract from their sluggish performance.
From the moment Daniele Orsato’s whistle signalled kick-off, the Blucerchiati were much the brighter, with an energy and determination about their approach that the Nerazzurri rarely matched, and were unsettled by the early pressure on them. Making several unforced errors and nearly falling behind within four minutes, when Morten Thorsby strolled between two defenders and headed narrowly over the crossbar.
Despite defeating Genoa 4-0 on the opening weekend, the 3-1 victory over Hellas Verona before the international interruption, when two late goals from Joaquin Correa rescued three points, highlighted an increased defensive frailty and just how much the Biscione attack is weaker by the loss of Romelu Lukaku.
Against Sampdoria, those shortcomings were exposed again, as the Nerazzurri managed just eight attempts on goal (five on target) and three of those came in the first period when Inter took a 2-1 lead into half-time through a stunning Federico Dimarco free-kick and an injury-time Lautaro Martinez goal.
The Argentina international’s strike was the only genuine moment of attacking quality produced by the visitors in open play. Hakan Calhanoglu robbing the ball from a hesitant Mikkel Damsgaard set Nicolo Barella to drive forward with purpose and sent a pacy cross for Martinez to fire home.
It was not until countryman Correa arrived from the bench that the Nerazzurri registered another shot on target, on 74 minutes, when Blucerchiati goalkeeper Emil Audero tipped the South American’s deflected shot over the crossbar.
Across the entire 90 minutes, Inter made just 56 attacks on the Sampdoria goal, while the hosts made nearly twice that number (107) and looked content to withstand the mounting pressure, rather than look for a winner. Maybe recalling that Il Doria were one of only three sides to defeat them last term?
While the Nerazzurri have the quality to secure plenty of points this season, even with so few goal-scoring opportunities, few will be as wasteful as the Blucerchiati and Real Madrid will certainly capitalise on a performance of a similar nature in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
However, with the movement and dynamism that Martinez and Correa can offer alongside an aging Edin Dzeko, Inzaghi certainly has the tools at his disposal to have Inter challenge for the title come May.