On May 2nd, 2021, Inter Milan secured the Serie A title for the first time since the 2009-10 campaign. Antonio Conte’s side finished 12 points clear of their local rivals, AC Milan, at the top of the table.
As well as having bragging rights in Italy, the Nerazzurri will now be in pot one for the 2021-22 Champions League campaign, meaning that they’ll avoid other league title winners, such as Bayern Munich and Manchester City.
However, the Italian won’t be leading them out in the elite European competition next season after leaving his role on May 26th, 2021. So, let’s look back on Conte’s time at Inter.
Building On An Already-Strong Squad To Defeat the Old Lady
During his two-year spell at the Giuseppe Meazza, Conte put together a star-studded squad of top-class players. However, he was also somewhat fortunate that the foundations were already in place from Luciano Spalletti’s reign.
It speaks volumes about the squad that the Italian inherited that, come the end of his tenure, he regarded Stefan de Vrij as integral to his plans.
The Dutchman put pen to paper with the Nerazzurri in 2018, and he played 32 Serie A games in Inter’s title-winning 2020-21 season.
Because of his form, the defender made the Netherlands’ 26-man squad for the upcoming European Championships, which, as of May 28th, Frank de Boer’s team are 112/1 to win in EURO 2020 odds.
En route to winning the Serie A title, Inter scored the second-most goals of any team in the division. The Nerazzurri found the net on 89 occasions, just one less than third-placed Atalanta.
It’s fair to say that Conte’s side stormed the league, adopting an attack-minded approach to ending Juventus’ reign of dominance.
Even offensively, the 51-year-old created a title-winning side by merging pre-existing players with new recruits. Romelu Lukaku, who signed for around £66 million in August 2019, scored a combined 41 goals with his Argentine strike partner, Lautaro Martinez.
The 23-year-old joined Inter in 2018, but the 2020-21 title triumph was his first taste of success.
Unable To Conquer Europe
Separately, both Conte and Inter are no strangers to winning the Champions League. As a player, the 51-year-old Italian lifted the European trophy with Juventus in 1995-96, with the Old Lady beating Ajax on penalties to clinch their second European title.
The Nerazzurri, meanwhile, famously won the Champions League in 2009-10, when a Diego Milito brace saw Jose Mourinho’s team defeat Bayern Munich in the final.
Together, however, Conte and Inter were unable to conquer Europe. Although winning the Champions League isn’t an easy task, there are certain expectations among the Giuseppe Meazza faithful.
Unfortunately, the 51-year-old fell short of meeting those targets. That said, it speaks volumes about the competition’s difficulty that a title-winning Inter side fell to a fourth-place finish in Group B during the 2020-21 season.
In the Nerazzurri’s six group matches, Conte’s team won only one game, which came at Borussia Park against Borussia Monchengladbach.
European struggles under Conte were nothing new to Inter, as the Nerazzurri also failed to hit the heights in the top-tier European tournament in 2019-20.
In the 51-year-old’s first season at the Giuseppe Meazza, the reigning Serie A champions finished third in Group F, behind Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona. As a result, Inter dropped into the Europa League but lost the final to Sevilla.
Creating A Feared Domestic Outfit
There can be no doubt that Conte was at the heart of Inter’s success in the 2020-21 season. The Italian put together a well-rounded team consisting of defensive solidity and offensive threat en route to ending Juventus’ nine-year reign of dominance.
While it remains unclear if the 51-year-old could have taken the Nerazzurri back to European success, he returned the club to the pinnacle of domestic football, becoming a hero at the Giuseppe Meazza in the process.