Inter are preparing for a key Champions League fixture against Viktoria Plzen and Richard Hall analyses the Nerazzurri’s inconsistent performances this season, wondering whether Simone Inzaghi needs to use Antonio Conte’s approach in big games.

On its own, the 2-0 defeat Inter suffered at the hands of Bayern Munich last week would not have been too much to worry about. The Germans were exceptional and whilst Inter were poor defensively the defeat is worrying for Simone Inzaghi, as they have failed another big test.

Arguably, the Nerazzurri have a better squad than they had last season. However, not only have they failed in big games but are also playing in a disturbingly disjointed manner.  

‘Inter what a nightmare’ Gazzetta printed after the defeat to Bayern, followed by ‘Too much Bayern: another KO after the Derby’. This was the point: Inzaghi had to show some sort of statement after losing in the Derby and against Lazio in their other big tests.

The team looked unsure and overwhelmed in key games: the passing was poor and personal decision-making by the players made it look like the message was not getting through. What has changed? Last season (apart from some slips and bad luck at the end) saw Inter win the Coppa Italia and Italian Super Cup. So, what has happened? 

Many fans were not excited when Inzaghi came in place of Antonio Conte a year ago. Inter had to sell key players they managed to replace well and over-achieved to some extent. They still played with the steely counter-attacking style installed by the previous coach but also showed more elegance and a more refined way of playing. Often it was more possession-based and the team could adapt to both philosophies. This seems to have been lost so far in this campaign.

However, the issue isn’t just in big games. Similar problems have emerged in other matches as well. The debut game at Lecce was a disaster. The Nerazzurri earned the three points very late. Just like on Saturday against Torino, Inzaghi’s men looked sluggish and without direction.

They showed better phases against Cremonese and Spezia in games that saw the Nerazzurri start as clear favourites. It is often when Inzaghi uses his more ‘elegant’ tactics that this possession game normally unlocks the deep-lying defences. However, in big games, the ‘Conte approach’ often works better as the powerful counter-attacking style seems to get results.

This so far seems to have been lost with the Nerazzurri playing a mash-up of the two. Players do not seem to know when to press together, being exposed too high up the line. There is also a feeling that the team is not getting the message although Inter did improve in the second half against Bayern.

Not everything is bad. André Onana had an excellent debut in goal against the Germans and the former Ajax man seems to have been picked as the starter in European fixtures. Playing one goalkeeper in the Champions League and one in Serie A also makes the coach look indecisive. Perhaps Inzaghi can get his message across. He has done it before and he could do it again. The squad looks strong and this pressure they are under is nothing new. They haven’t suddenly become a poor group, and there have been some good upgrades like Romelu Lukaku.  

In modern-day football, coaches come under pressure very quickly and Inzaghi is no different. A win against Torino on the weekend was vital as it settled the ship to an extent.

However, his next real test will come when they face Roma on October 1 at San Siro. A loss to Jose Mourinho’s men will cause problems even if they beat Viktoria Plzen and Udinese prior to this. The coach has to win hearts and minds back quickly, especially as so many games are being played at this time. He has done it before and now he simply needs to press reset and start again.


3 thought on “Inter’s problems when it matters the most: do they need Conte’s approach?”
  1. Inzaghi has no ambitions unlike Conte, thats the difference. Conte managed to transfer his hunger for winning to his players the same what Mourinho does before
    Inter needs an ambitious coach who only accept winning, if we look back we never achieved anything without a hungry coach even when we had Ronaldo and other superstars

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