A 0-0 draw in the first tie of a two-legged domestic cup semi-final against your arch-rivals is normally no cause for concern, but Inter’s failure to score against AC Milan in their Coppa Italia semi will have raised some concerns on the blue side of the city.
In fact, the goalless Derby della Madonnina draw was The Nerazzurri’s fourth consecutive game in all competitions in which they failed to find the net, and their fifth game without a win. Taking Inter’s last 13 matches across the board into consideration it’s evident to see that with the turn of the new year, their goals just seemed to dry up, but why?
The number of goals that Simone Inzaghi’s men have managed in their last 13 – unlucky for some – is 14, which is simply not enough for a team fighting on all fronts. Even though their latest 0-0 draw was void of a crucial away goal – which still come into play in the Coppa Italia – normally Inter would be eyeing up the second leg and fancying themselves, nonetheless.
However, at this stage of the season it’s not only enough to settle for being in the running for the treble without actually being in the running, meaning that within the space of two matches you have potentially gone from competing for three major tournaments to one, and then to none should you fail to do what’s necessary in football; score a goal.
In this day and age, as folks become obsessed with analysis and statistics, some things remain a constant and it’s that the most important stat in football is the one in the top, left corner of your TV screen at the end of the game. So, if the number next to your team constantly reads ‘zero’ then you’re in trouble, despite whatever else you do on the pitch.
Why the drought?
Looking at the Serie A table and the ‘goals for’ section, you’d likely wonder what the fuss is about, seeing as though Inter are the top scorers in league with 55 goals in 26 games – one more than Lazio and two more than Milan – but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Since their first Serie A game of 2022 – a 2-1 win against Lazio – the Nerazzurri have bagged just six goals in seven games, meaning that their other 49 came in the first half of the season, or in the first 19 games – once considered the ‘first round’ of the season, in which teams would play the same fixtures as 1-19 in the second half as the season, but at opposite grounds.
A basic bit of old-school calculation in one’s head draws the conclusion that Inter, at this rate, will register less than half the goals they did in the first half of the season in the second half if they go on as they are. Still no cause for concern?
Furthermore, checking the list of top-scorers in Serie A then you’d see that Inzaghi’s team are one of only two sides, along with Sassuolo, to have two players in the top-10 in the from of Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko. Martinez has 12 in all competitions, whereas Dzeko has 14 – three of which have come after Christmas.
What about Martinez, on the other hand, when was his last goal? Not taking into consideration his penalty in The Nerazzurri’s 2-1 Supercoppa Italiana win, his last strike in competitions that are still up for grabs was in Serie A against Salernitana, on December 17, so is he the ‘problem’?
Fighting on all fronts
As mentioned above, Inter are still very much in with a chance in all competitions, having already won the Supercoppa, so should they be taking a different tactical approach, or is it more a case of them sticking to what they know in the hope that it will once again bear fruit?
A Coppa Italia semi-final, a Champions League last-16 tie at Anfield and being two points from the summit of Serie A – with a game in hand – would suggest not, but being 2-0 down heading to face a formidable Liverpool at one of the toughest stadiums to play as an away team in world football, on March 8, could soon turn three competitions into two.
From now on, especially on the abovementioned night at Anfield, Inzaghi will need Martinez back to his best and back amongst the goals if the Nerazzurri are to stand any chance of progressing to the quarter-finals. He has to rediscover his goalscoring form.
Oddly enough, Inter’s next game is the Serie A fixture against the team for which Martinez’ last league goal arrived – in the 5-0 win at the Stadio Arechi – so it could well be the perfect chance for him to put the 10-match goalless streak behind him and fire the Nerazzurri temporarily top of the table.