It has been a long summer. Although the much-anticipated World Cup came and went, there is nothing like the return of Serie A football. Today Inter began their first season after the exodus of our senators such as, Milito, Cambiasso, Samuel and our beloved captain, Javier Zanetti, who moved into the front office. While some left Inter, many changes rang in during the summer. Mazzarri had his contract renewed, Ranocchia took the captains armband and new faces such as Vidic, M’Vila, Dodò, Medel and Osvaldo have found their way to Milan. We were told many times that last season was “year zero”; however, this season feels like it is truly the beginning of a new Inter.
Inter stepped out for the first half against Torino, who were a strong side last season but also had lost their star duo of Immobile and Cerci. The first few minutes saw Inter take the initiative and peg Torino back; however, Torino slowly began to claw their way back into the game. Inter’s tempo began to slow down after 15 minutes and there were very few scoring chances to speak about other than an off target shot by M’Vila. It wasn’t long before Inter came across a familiar sight with Quagliarella going to ground after what appeared to be a light challenge from Vidic. Luckily, Batmanovic was there to fly to Inter’s rescue and save the Nerazzurri from going down 1-0 undeservedly. Handanovic was strong in the air, pulling down corners and commanding his box well.
The half ended with a few missed headers from Icardi and Ranocchia in quick succession. Inter will need to take these chances if they are to challenge for silverware this season, especially when you have teams like Torino likely to sit back and absorb pressure. One real positive was that Inter seemed to control the counter-attack much better in the first half than many times last season. However, the defensive midfield duo of Medel and M’Vila seemed excessively negative.
The second half began much like the first ended, with Inter doing themselves no favours. Right from the restart Inter went on the break 3 against 2 but Icardi’s touch let him down when he was alone on goal. Osvaldo came on to the pitch for M’Vila and he immediately made an impact, heading wide from a cross and then setting Icardi up for a shot in front of goal.
Hernanes had a difficult first half but began to turn up the tempo a bit more in the second half, placing a great through ball for Osvaldo who was denied, while the Medel follow up was cleared right before he could take the shot into an open goal. Moments later Hernanes had another shot saved from distance but the player continued to try and break through.
Inter suffered in attack as Torino kept eleven men behind the ball and the Nerazzurri could not break Torino down on the wings. Both Jonathan and Dodò were failing to serve Icardi and Osvaldo with crosses from the outside and Jonathan in particular appeared to be lacking the pace necessary to get beyond the Torino defense. Both wingers were replaced late in the game but Inter failed to create much in attack and Kovacic all but disappeared from the game.
The later stages saw penalty appeals when it looked like Icardi had been dragged to the ground but the referee decided to wave play on. Icardi seemed to receive particularly harsh treatment from the official, being consistently dragged down with the ref continuing to ignore his shouts. In extra time Vidic was given a straight red card for applauding the referee, after being pulled down at the byline. The referee had a consistently poor showing on the night and left a lot to be desired.
The last two seasons Inter has come out of the gates flying but fallen off the pace soon after, so predictions are both difficult and useless to make in the early stages. However, a few things can be taken from this game; the first being that Inter will need to improve their wing play if they are going to score goals and challenge for silverware this season. The team has been formed around the capacity for wingers to get crosses in and this simply is not happening. Furthermore, the combination of Medel and M’Vila in the midfield did not appear to function as well as other combinations have in pre-season. Medel was certainly a presence defensively but did not have the passing range that M’Vila has displayed thus far. Mazzarri will have to decide which one of these characteristics he wants since the other midfield spots are seemingly locked down by Kovacic and Hernanes. It was another frustrating encounter for Inter fans and by the end of the game that “new Inter” feeling read much more along the lines of “same old story”.