After a rather frustrating display at the Bernabeu in midweek against Real Madrid, Inter bounced back to hit top spot in Serie A for the first time this season.
An emphatic hammering of struggling Cagliari, which could have been a mauling without the heroics of the Sardinian outfit’s keeper Alessio Cragno, saw Inter take pole position in the quest to be Winter Champions.
Here is our take on Inter’s week and what consequences have been left in the embers.
1) Clean Sheets Galore After Early Season Slump
Part of Inter’s effectiveness last term was their Scrooge like defence. Conte’s side were comfortably the best for not conceding goals but it did take a small amount of adjustment to see Inzaghi get the same results from the same defence.
Inzaghi demands a little less frugality from his midfield and defence which saw the defensive numbers take a hit early in the campaign.
Normal service however seems to have resumed as Inter are now on a run of three clean sheets on the bounce in the league and have let in just three goals in their last eight league games. Long may Samir’s goal stay empty.
2) Alessio Cragno Must Be Considered As Replacement To Samir Handanovic
Although it remains pretty clear cut that it will be Andre Onana who will replace Inter’s current custodian, should the deal collapse or turn out to be a complete fabrication by the Italian media, Alessio Cragno is a man who should be considered for the role.
His sensational performance at San Siro served as a reminder of what Cragno is about, sublime shot stopping and a keen penalty saver.
With Cagliari in dire straights and looking towards at the very least a battle against relegation, Cragno wouldn’t be too expensive and for sure should be considered as an option.
3) Lautaro Martinez Can No Longer Take Penalties
For all his other outstanding qualities, penalty taking sure is a weakness of Lautaro Martinez’s on current form.
Sure let your striker take penalties but another miss surely means that he is replaced as Inter’s premier spot kick taker.
A costly miss against Milan should possibly have seen him replaced but now for certain it must see the responsibility bestowed upon somebody else, with Hakan Calhanoglu being the likely replacement.
Inter must work on their penalty taking skills in general also as it has cost them four points already this term which, if converted, would currently see them sat five points clear at the top with two more wins to their name.
4) Nicolo Barella Red Card Could Prove Costly
Inter must now face Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool without their talismanic midfielder Nicolo Barella.
His rather frustrating dismissal for an off the ball spat with Real defender Eder Militao caused mass anger from Inter fans who were understandably aware of the consequences of his rash behaviour.
Now finding themselves facing one of Europe’s elite and a recent winner of the competition, the task is made even harder with Inter now looking to an ageing Arturo Vidal or inept Roberto Gagliardini to fill the void.
Gini Wijnaldum on loan in January anyone?
5) Liverpool Almost The Hardest Draw Possible But There Is Hope
Ajax seemed a nice idea but would have been far from straight forward. However, thanks to UEFA’s botch Inter must now face one of Europe’s most dominant forces in recent times in the form of Liverpool.
Their ability to blow away sides with their 4-3-3 pressing system gives Inter as tougher test as they could’ve been given. However, a trip to San Siro for the first leg won’t have been high on Liverpool’s list of priorities and it also comes at a time when some of their African players are returning a little jet lagged from the AFCON.
This game will be a brutally hard task and Inter are very much the underdogs but a tidy performance in the first leg could make it a real nail biter. Welcome back to the knockout stages of the Champions League.