Inter‘s 1-1 draw against Juventus at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Sunday night left the Serie A champions seven points behind joint leaders Napoli and AC Milan, a gap which they could hardly imagine to have amassed at this stage of the season, and one that makes the Nerazzurri’s title defence more complicated.
But more importantly, after a thrilling 2-2 draw against Atalanta in September and their recent 3-1 loss at Lazio, the Juventus tie has once again seen the Biscione either losing or drawing against a rival in the top half of the table, as Sampdoria remain the only opponents that Inter failed to defeat outside of this group.
While this trend is very much similar to the first half of last season, when Inter collected one defeat and two draws against Lazio, Milan and Atalanta from their first seven Serie A matches, it’s worth pointing out that the Nerazzurri’s ability to turn the tide starting from December was key to their title-winning campaign.
Throwing points away
Securing wins in direct games against top six and title contenders would be crucial for Simone Inzaghi in order to help his side rebuild that kind of confidence that the Nerazzurri currently seem to have lost.
Their timid second-half performance against the Bianconeri ended up costing Inter more points, as their inability to kill a game they have controlled for the majority of the time spoiled an overall good display.
In fact, just like it has happened against Atalanta and Lazio, the Derby d’Italia saw Inter lose points from a winning position – in each one of these outings, the Nerazzurri seemed to slow down after taking the lead, an attitude which they cannot afford to have this season, as they didn’t prove solid enough to tame their opponents’ reaction, mainly because of their defensive fragility, an aspect that coach Inzaghi has not yet managed to fix.
Keeping opponents alive
Yet, the mental side of things is also to be mentioned, since Inter also seem to lack last season’s self-awareness, which had the effect of instilling discouragement in their rivals, making a comeback much more unlikely than it is today, when the players’ fear of a potential slip-up in the dying minutes often works as a morale booster for the team they face.
For all these reasons, the Nerazzurri should have learned by now that, unlike Juventus, a single-goal margin is not enough for them to seal all the three points against the strongest sides, which is why they need to keep their level of focus high for the entire 90 minutes, pushing for more goals rather than settling for what they have.
Inter need to address these problems fast if they don’t want to lose more ground from the top of Serie A, as the Derby della Madonnina against an in-form AC Milan on November 7 is likely to become a season-defining clash for the Nerazzurri.