Simone Inzaghi’s Inter continue to prove their ability to negotiate the knockout competitions as they escaped Benfica with a 2-0 win in the first leg of their Champions League Quarter Final.
Goals from the brilliant Nicolo Barella and Romelu Lukaku has given Inter a real stronghold on the tie heading into the next leg which is then at San Siro.
Despite Inter’s consistently inconsistent league form, their ability under Simone Inzaghi to go deep into the latter stages of the Cups competitions is very impressive.
Here is what we learned from Inter’s past week.
1) Missing Out On Serie A Top 4 Finish A Real Risk
Inter might actually need to do the unthinkable and win the Champions League in order to ensure their participation in the competition.
A poor draw at Salernitana this past weekend thanks to a very fortunate equaliser from the hosts by ex-Nerazzuri man Antonio Candreva saw Inter once again begin to look over their shoulders at the chasing pack.
Should Juventus have their points deduction overturned, the competition heats up even more as they will establish themselves in second place.
The league side of things for Inter has to improve otherwise Inzaghi will most definitely pay for it with his job.
2) Brilliant Barella Back To His Best
Nicolo Barella is on his day without a doubt one of Europe’s best midfielders.
At times however, he has experienced and few dips in form over the past year and hasn’t quite fully reciprocated his goal scoring form of last season or pure brilliance of the Scudetto winning campaign.
In the win at Benfica however, he was outstanding.
A leader on and off the ball and capped the game he had with a goal too.
The Nerazzuri’s next captain in waiting.
3) Big Rom Handled Racist Abuse Perfectly
By initiating the exact same trademark celebration against Benfica, the Belgian striker showed his hand to the current racial abuse that he has been subject to.
After receiving no backing from the Italian Referees boss Gianluca Rocchi, zero from the league and the Italian FA, but instead suffered ludicrous accusations of ‘inciting the crowd’ by Juventus players, as well as the absurd conspiracy theories spouted by an official Juventus media host, Lukaku has seemingly taken matters into his own hands.
His post on social media, which was backed by thousands of top pros across the world, showed his class.
It is still truly frightening to believe that the we are still dealing with racist abuse of players of color in 2023. Again: 2023!
Italian football MUST do better. NOW!
4) André Onana Proving His Worth
A late save from Andre Onana allowed Inter to keep their two goal advantage at Benfica.
Should the same situation have occurred, there’s little chance that the other goalkeeper at the club, who inexplicably keeps being thrown into games, would’ve saved it.
Andre Onana must start every single match from now until the end of the season. This goalkeeper is Inter’s present and future and there is no way that his momentum should be halted simply to give games to someone who is living on past glories and may not be here next term.
5) Lautaro Martinez In A Rut
Lautaro Martinez has taken a bit longer this year to hit a trademark rough spell.
Inter’s talisman and now occasional skipper looked very lost and out of sorts this past week and now finds himself on a run of just one goal in his last 12 outings for club and country.
If Martinez is ever to become and Inter great or a top forward in world football, he must become a more consistent force.
At times in the first part of this year he was Inter’s key player but he is in a real funk.
If Inter are to consolidate top four, he needs to get back firing and fast.
Whilst serious budgetary constraints must be taken into consideration, who do you feel is most likely to take the job and who would you want?