Inter went into their midweek fixture against perennial horror opponent Atalanta, having gone winless against them in the last six matches and the last 4 home games at the San Siro. However, on a positive note, Germain Denis, who has scored 7 goals in 10 appearances against Inter was not in the starting lineup. The Nerazzurri lined up With Jonathan replacing Nagatomo on the right and Guarin remained in the lineup ahead of Hernanes in the midfield. Moreover, Palacio returned as the striking partner for Icardi in front of a newly reopened Curva Nord.
The first half began with Inter lacking the type of intensity necessary in a home game. Too often this season and last Inter have allowed teams to claw their way into the games by not immediately putting their opponents under pressure. Inter need to improve the way they start matches, especially at home.
Inter began to pick up the pace slowly but the results were the same. Although there were plenty of opportunities to score goals, Inter were not finishing their chances or unlucky. Medel nearly missed with a bullet from outside the box, Vidic hit the bar, Kovacic had a free shot at the top of the box and Palacio burst into the box only to have hit shot saved. To make matters worse, Icardi was unable to continue after a late knock to the leg from an Atalanta defender, who was inexplicably not booked.
As the half continued, Inter slowly began to take control of the game and Ranocchia earned a penalty after being dragged down in the box during a corner kick. Unfortunately, Inter’s poor luck with penalties continued and Palacio’s penalty was well saved by the Atalanta keeper. However, the first half was not without positives. Whereas last year this would have been the point where Inter gave up a goal against the run of play, Inter went up 1-0 with a sublime piece of skill from Osvaldo. Moreover, Medel was showing his character, running down every ball and taking no prisoners in the midfield, not to mention he completed 18 of 20 passes in this half. The attitude of these players was great and hopefully their mentality is contagious throughout the squad.
Inter began the second half putting Atalanta under pressure and Palacio had a chance to put Inter up 2-0 but put the shot off the post. His goalless showing today should not deter Palacio, as he ran well and was making good runs into the box. However, after 10 mins Inter began losing control of the game, sitting back, and Atalanta were heaping the pressure on with a series of corners and shots from outside the box.
Inter were clearly tired and Mazzarri made some proactive changes by replacing Guarin with Hernanes and Palacio with M’Vila. These seemed inspired changes as well as M’Vila fit right in to the game and began breaking down plays defensively, while making strong accurate passes going forward. Hernanes was not to be shown up though and struck an absolute gem of a free kick into the very top corner, putting Inter up 2-0. Even better, Inter held on and did not concede, breaking their run of bad luck against Atalanta.
Although Inter started the game slow and went through a few hot and cold periods this was a positive performance overall. For starters, we beat Atalanta at home. Inter also showed great character tonight from both old and new faces. We finished off our opponents properly and although we some negative moments (missing a penalty) we responded positively. The midfield moved well and although there were some issues in passing accuracy, they all performed responsibly, tracking back to help. The defense is very much improved this season and the proof is visible as Inter achieved yet another clean sheet. Mazzarri was also very good today, making good substitutions at the right time, which addressed the issues on the field and were not made too late to have an effect. It was not perfect but it was a step forward and this is the type of step Inter need to be making.