In many of recent seasons Inter have flirted with being a legitimate contender for the Scudetto. The pattern was always the same. Hire a new manager. Manage to be top of the table until January. And then implode and sweat out qualifications for Champions League.
The pattern had become so predictable that many simply thought “Classic Inter” after the club seemingly gifted Juventus a lead in the title race with 3 successive draws in January. Through sheer luck, Juve had their own struggles and Inter found themselves with the chance to go back to the top of the table with a win in the Derby Della Madonnina.
And what a win it was. Inter seemed to continue the implosion trend of years past with a dismal first half showing. But this year seems different. It feels different. It IS different. The way Antonio Conte’s men came back and won 4-2 to storm back to the top of the table was brilliant.
The team finally demonstrated the mentality that every champions has. And they did it without their best striker, one of their best midfielders, and their best goalkeeper. This team has fans daring to dream.
SS Lazio vs Inter Sunday February 16th, Stadio Olimpico, kickoff 20:45 CET
PFC Ludogorets Razgard vs Inter Thursday February 20th, Stadium Ludogorets Arena, kickoff 18:55 CET
First Team Fitness:
Roberto Gagliardini: He continues to be absent due to bone edema resulting from a foot injury that occurred back in December. The club have yet to provide any meaningful update on his rehabilitation and possible return to action. Seems destined to miss this week’s matchups against Lazio and Ludogorets.
Samir Handanovic: The captain missed the match against Milan due to the stress fracture in his left hand. There has been rumors swirling about the severity and mixed reports on when he could return to action. The club have yet to provide any updates outside of saying he’ll be reassessed.
Inter’s actions in the interim have been confusing as well. The day after backup keeper Daniele Padelli made 2 mistakes in the Derby the team was reported to have been trying out Emiliano Viviano, something that suggested Handanovic would be out for at least several weeks.
But Conte followed that up by including Handanovic on the bench for the Coppa Italia match versus Napoli leading some to believe he may even return by this weekend. The club continues to reassess him on a daily basis, but as of now no one has any concrete idea of when he’ll return.