Inter took all three points at the Artemio Franchi, but Fiorentina showed they can be one of the surprises of the season in Serie A, writes Lorenzo Bettoni in Florence.
When Riccardo Sottil put Fiorentina ahead in the first half, Serie A champions Inter seemed to be absolutely on their knees. The Stadio Franchi was shaking. Vincenzo Italiano’s side had put in a brilliant performance and, in all honesty, they could have scored more than one goal in the first 45 minutes.
Somehow, Fiorentina seemed to have the game in their hands. Inter looked like a boxer fighting at the corner, but La Viola were punching hard. Nico Gonzalez was almost unstoppable down the left flank and he set up Sottil for the opener.
Dusan Vlahovic kept Stefan de Vrij and Milan Skriniar busy while Alfred Duncan, Jack Bonaventura and Lucas Torreira provided absolutely everything a midfield must have: vision, quality, physical strength. Fiorentina fans hadn’t had one of these nights for long time. There was only one question they had in mind as they saw their team dominate Inter for 45 minutes: how long will it last?
Although it is still early in the season, it is safe to say Italiano has already transformed Fiorentina. A side that over the last two tumultuous spells was mainly concerned about defending is now one of the most exciting teams to watch. It’s not the same system, but their attitude is very similar to Antonio Conte’s teams. Whether they build up from the back or press high up the pitch, Fiorentina always produce quality football. They are so good to watch and you have the feeling they still have room for improvement, especially with a striker like Dusan Vlahovic up front.
However, the Nerazzurri were a sleeping giant. They had one goal ruled out for offside before the break and in the second half they unleashed all their quality and, above anything, their physical strength. In the space of three minutes, the Serie A champions put their noses ahead with goals from Matteo Darmian and Edin Dzeko.
Fiorentina’s chances dried up in the second half and, all of sudden, they found themselves in the corner, unable to hurt Inter as they had done in the opening 45 minutes.
“We were not mature enough to kill off the game, putting pressure on Inter again and again,” Italiano said in his post-match press conference.
“Right now, we can’t do it for the whole game. We could have scored the second or the third, that could have changed something.”
Despite that, it is difficult to blame the Tuscans, who got to the game on the back of three wins in a row, included one away at Atalanta.
Inter fans won’t remember tonight’s match as one of their most spectacular displays, but as a game that confirmed they are still the best team in Italy.
Conte is no longer on their bench, but Inzaghi has picked up from exactly where the title-winning coach left off. The players’ self-confidence and determination are just the same as last season and Inzaghi is using his men wisely, both the starters and the substitutes.
He was also a little lucky, as he was about to sub off Darmian and Dzeko, just before they scored. But it is because of Lady Luck that they return to Milan with all three points in their pocket.
“At half time, we told each other that Fiorentina could not keep the same intensity for the whole game,” Inzaghi told the media.
“But they [Fiorentina] played really well and in the second half we managed to win the game and we could have scored more.”
Fiorentina’s Nicolás González has well and truly lost his head here… 👀😆 pic.twitter.com/H1s5lgB0PX
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 21, 2021
Inter have lost Achraf Hakimi and Romelu Lukaku, but remain the best team in Serie A. They have a reliable and, so far, ruthless striker in Dzeko. Their midfield, led by Nicolò Barella, is arguably the best in the league.
They have depth and physical strength. On paper, they have all the ingredients to win another Serie A title, but it doesn’t only depend on them.
They are the best team in Serie A, but they are not as strong as last season and competition is fierce. Just think about their city rivals Milan or Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli, who can return to the top of the table if they beat Sampdoria away on Thursday.
Inter are not spectacular, but they have everything it takes to have another successful campaign. In Florence, they grit their teeth for 45 minutes, but still managed to get away with a deserved win. It’s not a result to be taken for granted, because not many top teams will leave the Franchi with three points this season.