Luciano Spalletti and his Inter maintain their 3 point lead over AS Roma, who have a game in hand, after Uruguayan international midfielder Matias Vecino got on the end of a brilliant Marcelo Brozovic cross to equalise the lead gifted to Stephan El Shaarawy and his Giallorossi via Davide Santon.
With Lazio, who also have a game in hand, having demolished Chievo Verona at home at the Stadio Olimpico earlier in the day, the Nerazzurri could not afford to lose against a Roma side who match Inter with regards to poor form, led by former Sassuolo coach Eusebio Di Francesco dubbed by many in Italy to be a coaching dead man walking.
Luciano Spalletti’s men looked much better in terms of attitude and energy than they had for the entire month of December up until before the 2 week break when the team drew away against Fiorentina, but they were severely lacking in technical quality. Granted, the Giallorossi matched Inter in terms of the sheer volume of poor passes and simple mistakes, yet the Nerazzurri’s ability to take on and overcome the high press put in by Roma only to inexplicably give the ball away back to Roma was mind boggling. Not to mention infuriating.
Roma on the other hand barely created anything worthy of being called a chance and their only shot on target came when Stephan El Shaarawy got on the end of a harakiri attempt of a headed pass back to goalkeeper Handanovic by Italian full-back Davide Santon. Having watched it at all again x number of times, it is impossible to understand or remotely comprehend what on earth the former Newcastle full-back is trying to do. In the summer €20 million was spent on a full-back from Ligue 1 who Spalletti doesn’t feel he can play due not trusting him enough, named Dalbert. It is quite remarkable how Inter seem unable to resolve the left-back slot although it must be said Nagatomo and Santon have been much better than they have ever been during their careers at Inter.
On the right hand side of defence however the Nerazzurri have resolved their issues as Joao Cancelo must now be regarded as a starting player thanks to yet another impressive performance. The Portuguese international is quick, fast, technical and a great crosser of the ball. His improving read of the Serie A coupled with his positioning makes him indispensable and if he continues down this path, it is unimaginable that Inter wont activate his redemption clause before June.
His compatriot Joao Mario spent the entire match on the bench and it is looking more and more like the former Sporting player has played his last match in an Inter shirt. Rumors suggest that Italian international attacker Eder is also on his way out and he hardly convinced anyone not to let him go when absolutely squandering two great chances. The former Sampdoria attacker is a good player but if he wants Spalletti to play him more often then he has to take advantage of the chances he is given, something he did not do against Roma.
Antonio Candreva’s and Ivan Perisic’s form is on the rise, there’s no doubt about that after both players looked physically and mentally fresh with the Croatian almost giving Inter the lead twice in the first half. One of Perisic’s chances came from a brilliant Candreva cross whose partnership with Cancelo is looking better and better by the minute. Up front Mauro Icardi had a night where the ball did not bounce his way but his intelligent movement and 7th sense for sniffing goalscoring opportunities should have rewarded him with two goals. However, after the post denied him once, Roma’s Man of the Match Alisson came up with saves that Julio Cesar would have been proud of.
Right now it is looking like a three horse race between Inter, Lazio and Roma for two spots in next seasons Champions League which was and still is the Nerazzurri’s objective for the season. A loss last night would have jeopardized that given the gave in hand both Rome clubs have. Vecino’s goal just made the race tighter and closer. Starting from next Sunday, Inter have to start winning again if the Nerazzurri are to stand with a chance of completing the season’s objective, when Spalletti and his men travel to Ferrara to take on SPAL. No more excuses or leverage left. The serious part of the season begins now.