Max De Luca – What We Learned From Inter’s 2-1 Loss to Sampdoria
Your mind can work in peculiar ways, especially when it concerns matters of the heart. Logic can take a back seat to superstition, the truth can be easily distorted to make room for over-optimistic outcomes and it’s possible to assuage our fears by painting a propitious picture of the future.
From matters of life and death, like stage 4 cancer diagnosis to the more mundane such as scratching lottery tickets, we invent scenarios where our preferred resolution comes to fruition.
We do this for a variety of reasons; to keep the days meaningful, the nights tolerable, and our thoughts sane, but at some point a big dose of reality hits you square in the face with such force that you have to concede it was just a pipe dream all along.
You feel foolish for believing something that deep down you knew was unattainable. You berate yourself for being an enabler in such a foolish endeavour. You scream, scratch, bang and bawl before finally accepting the situation for what it truly is.
That’s what happened at San Siro on Monday when Inter’s Champions League dreams were dashed for good as the Nerazzurri fell to a disappointing 2-1 defeat Sampdoria.
It started out well for Inter, which jumped out to a 1-0 lead in very fortuitous circumstances as Danilo D’Ambrosio’s shot took a deflection and spun past Samp keeper Emiliano Viviano in the 35th minute.
Sampdoria hit the post twice in the first half and a disjointed Inter was fortunate to take a one-goal lead into the break, but the Meazza was filled with sense of impending doom heading into the second half.
It didn’t help matters that Roberto Gagliardini wasn’t able to continue in the second session due to an ankle sprain and it was only a matter of time before Samp equalized after the restart.
Inter target Patrik Schick tapped in from close range in the 50th minute but looked miles offside until replays confirmed that Marcelo Brozovic (more on him later) kept the Samp striker onside.
Mauro Icardi looked poised to put Inter back on top but missed an open goal from two yards out to keep the match on a knife edge. The visitors looked more likely to score and duly took the lead after another individual mistake when Brozovic inexplicably stuck out his arm to block a free kick in the penalty area in the 85th minute, which led to Fabio Quagliarella’s winning spot kick.
It was a mental error of epic proportions. It was not only a pub league mistake and a gaffe that only the most irresponsible recreation league player makes, but a miscue that dashed the Nerazzurri’s Champions League dreams for good.
There’s no way forward with Inter nine points behind Napoli in third place with eight games remaining. If Inter was our significant other we would’ve broken off the relationship a long time ago.
Inter is unreliable, unpredictable and unhinged but sports marriages are a lifelong commitment so there’s nothing to do but trudge on and hope the circumstances improve sooner rather than later, as all we are left with is just another broken promise.
Here’s what we learned from Inter’s loss to Sampdoria:
1. Bye Bye Brozo
Brozovic’s performance on Monday was one of the most self-sabotaging since the days of Mario Balotelli at Inter. He kept Shick onside for Samp’s first goal before gifting the visitor’s the winner with five minutes left.
Rumours are rife the Croatian international will head to Manchester United in the summer and that’s probably the best scenario for all parties involved.
Banishing Brozovic to the fringes of the first team is one of the few things that Frank de Boer actually did right during his short tenure as Inter manager. How can Brozovic be trusted going forward? He can’t and should be kept firmly on the bench until he’s offloaded in the summer.
2. Gagliardini Already An Integral Member Of The Squad
He has less than 25 Serie A appearances under his belt – including nine with Inter – but the 22-year-old is already a key player in the team.
Gagliardini’s absence in the second half proved to be a big blow to the Nerazzurri, who looked out of sorts without the Italian international patrolling the midfield. His composure on the ball and his knack for finding the right pass in most circumstances was missed and Inter paid the price accordingly.
Gagliardini has developed an almost telepathic partnership with Geoffrey Kondogbia and his vision and intelligence is uncanny for his age. Let’s hope he’s back in time for the derby as the Nerazzurri should be able to earn three points against a Crotone side, which can’t seem to score to save its life.
3. Give Gabigol A Chance
The Brazilian was visibly frustrated when Stefano Pioli passed him over and used Joao Mario as the last substitute, and with Inter all but out of the race for a Champions League spot, it’s high time for Gabriel Barbosa to get an extended run with the first team.
It’s time to take off the training wheels and let the €29.5-million man strut his stuff for better or for worse even though Pioli might be reluctant to do so as he’s still auditioning for a full season at Appiano Gentile in 2017-18.
Max De Luca is a journalist based in Toronto, Canada and has been published on Reuters, CBC, Yahoo, Goal, USA Today and many more. Every week Max pens a column exclusively for SempreInter.com discussing the most pressing topics of the past week.
Do you agree with Max? Discuss in comments and follow him on twitter.