- Samir Handanovic
- Stefano Pioli
For the second week in a row Inter broke records after demolishing their opponents in a beautiful sunny spring day in front of just under 60.000 extatic spectators at the San Siro. Last week Cagliari was taught a lesson, this week Pioli & co destroyed former Nerazzurri coach Gasperini whose Atalanta have been the biggest surprise of the season. And just like last week, it was thanks to two boys from Rosario.
Atalanta came to the San Siro hoping to record their second win this season over the Nerazzurri from Milano to permanently end the hosts dreams of Champions League football but instead saw their own dreams of European football being ruthlessly shattered. Inter outclassed Atalanta in every part of the pitch as every single Inter player demolished his particular opponent. Kondogbia made Franck Kessie look like a sad and confused boy who’d lost his mum in an amusement park, Miranda had Petagna so deep in his pocket they’re now conjoined twins whilst Perisic marauded down the left flank leaving poor Conti to now probably suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome following the humiliation he endured.
Cristian Ansaldi followed up last weeks excellent performance with an even better performance this week, primarily defensively freeing Perisic to figuratively pull down Conti’s pants until the 82nd minute when the Croatian winger was replaced by Eder. The same can be said about Danilo D’Ambrosio whose brilliant defensive play gave Candreva the freedom to make those two assists and continually putting Spinazzola under pressure. Candreva has been criticized, quite rightly I might add, for being too inconsistent and the same is true of his performance today. He can produce amazing crosses and his movement is a joy to watch whilst suddenly being unable to lift the ball unattacked higher than 2 meters above the ground. Undoubtedly Candreva is a quality player, his ability is unquestionable now he needs to raise his lowest level erasing the silly simple mistakes that make him look a mid-table team player.
And then there was the duo from Rosario. On October 26th 1947 Inter beat Lucchese 6-0 where 4 of those goals were scored by Benito Lorenzi. It took the Italian striker, nicknamed “Veleno”, 14 minutes to score 3 of his 4 setting a record for the fastest hattrick anyone had ever scored in an Inter shirt. It was an impressive record that stood until March 12th 2017 when the current Nerazzurri number 9 scored 3, in only 9 minutes against one of the best defenses in this seasons Serie A who also happened to be a direct rival for a place in next season’s Champions League.
Yet Icardi wasn’t the best Argentinian player on the pitch, in fact he wasn’t even the best player from Rosario in an inter shirt. That accolade belongs to Ever Banega who gave the best individual performance by an Inter player at the San Siro since Diego Milito’s mythical night against Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal in 2010. Sure, the stage today is certainly not remotely close to being as important as a semifinal in Europe’s top club competition, but the indicidual skill and brilliance demonstrated was worthy of a Champions League Final. And it came from a player who has struggled the entire season, at times looking completely out of place and who rumor had it was on his way out from the club this past January.
Even disregarding his 3 goals and 2 assists, he literally didn’t put a foot wrong for the 70 minutes Pioli kept him on the pitch mixing breathtaking backheel flicks resulting in chances for his team-mates with dream passes no-one but him even could imagine were possible. This was on the back of a brilliant performance against Cagliari last week when he produced a jaw droppingly gorgeous assist for Perisic before, just like today, humiliating the goalkeeper via a lovely free-kick.
Inter and Sporting Director Piero Ausilio have been criticized heavily for overpaying for players who either have been too inconsistent *cough Candreva cough* or deemed not ready/good enough to play regularly/feature at all *cough Gabigol cough*, therefore it’s only fair to give credit where credit is due and applaud Ausilio’s ability to sign Ever Banega on a free transfer from Sevilla. That move could be worth Banega’s actual weight in gold should Inter qualify for next season’s Champions League. Only time will tell how that plays out, but yesterday the first name of the best player in the world born in Rosario was neither Mauro nor Lionel, but Ever. And he signed for Inter this past summer for free.