On the 22nd of May 2010, Inter completed the treble defeating Bayern Munich 2-0 in the Champions League final with a team fielding the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Javier Zanetti, Diego Milito, Samuel Eto’o, and more. Under the guidance of Jose Mourinho the ‘Nerazzurri’ (The Black and Blues) rose to the very top of European Football, winning its first and only European Cup, as well as a Scudetto and a Coppa Italia along the way to complete their treble winning season. Fast forward 5 seasons and the club finished 8th just ahead of their fierce rivals AC Milan in a nightmare of a season where both failed to qualify for a European competition for the first time in sixty years. Although both clubs have declined significantly over the past few seasons, this is the first summer in recent memory in which Inter look likely to turned things around.
At the end of last season one thing and one thing only was clear, the club was desperate for some much-needed investment, and so far that’s exactly what they’ve got. Thus far, the club has made numerous impressive acquisitions, strengthening on all thirds of the pitch with the likes of Geoffrey Kondogbia, Joao Miranda, Jeison Murillo, Martin Montoya, and Stevan Jovetic all joining the club either permanently or on loan.
The biggest deal so far is undoubtedly Kondogbia, who joined the club for thirty million euros from Monaco. The twenty-two year old was highly sought after this summer by the likes of Arsenal, Milan, Juventus, and more, however it was Inter who managed to land him and they won’t regret it. Kondogbia can act as a box-to-box central midfielder or a defensive midfielder and has the ability to dictate play from either position. He’s tall and strong yet technically gifted, and after seeing notable performances against the likes of Arsenal, it’s no mystery why Inter have worked so hard to get him.
Next they’ve signed Miranda for a reported fee of fifteen million euros from Atletico Madrid. Although he’s already thirty, the Brazilian is a definite upgrade on the center backs they have currently, and will pair nicely alongside either new signing Jeison Murillo or Juan Jesus, both younger inexperienced center backs. Miranda’s experience, leadership, and talent can only help the more inexperienced defenders and better the team as a whole.
Finally, they’ve managed to secure Stevan Jovetic and Martin Montoya on loan from Manchester City and Barcelona respectively. Jovetic will help support main man Mauro Icardi up front and look to take some of the goal scoring pressure off of him, and Montoya will look to cement his spot in the first XI while trying to prove to his mother club Barcelona that he can be the successor to Dani Alves’ throne. Both are quality squad additions that will help Inter get through the thirty-eight game season.
On to the fixture list. Inter kick of their Serie A campaign on August 23rd against Atalanta, followed by an away trip versus Carpi. Inter are fairly lucky with their fixture list, being that they never have two games against their biggest competitors in a row. This season, their most likely challengers for champions league football are Juventus, Roma, Napoli, and Lazio. Juventus’ league aim will be none other than to retain the Scudetto, and there is no chance they will finish outside the top three. Roma finished second last year some way off of the top, however they will still be up there in the table considering they’ve managed to keep hold of they’re best players while adding a quality No.9 in Edin Dzeko. Napoli fell out of the Champions League last season on the last day against Lazio, and being that they have one of the strongest squads in Italy they won’t want such to happen again. Lazio made a spectacular run on later in the season that saw them fire passed an inconsistent Napoli to qualify for Champions league football for the first time in seven seasons. Although Milan have strengthened as well, they still have along way to go until they find themselves back in Europe’s top flight. Inter do not play any of the teams I mentioned before back to back. That along with no European football plays out favorably for Inter in this upcoming season.
In terms of lineups, it is more than likely that Roberto Mancini will set up his team in either a 4-2-3-1 or the 4-3-1-2. In both systems, Kondogbia will be central to everything the club does. His ability to dictate games and boss the midfield will allow creative players such as Hernanes and even Jovetic (depending on where he plays) to express themselves going forward with some level of certainty they will not be caught out on the counter upon losing the ball. As previously mentioned, Kondogbia can play in either the No.6 role or more of the No.8 role but regardless of where he plays it is clear what he brings to the table, and Inter need consistent play from him if they have a chance at shooting their way back into the champions league.
In addition, one of Mancini’s most important tasks this season is finding the best center back partnership to work with. Currently, Inter have four potential first team center backs in Ranocchia, Jesus, Miranda and Murillo, but only two will pay in Inter’s four back formation, therefore it is critical that Mancini finds the pair that work best as early as possible in order to have stability at the back.
As for Mancini, with all the investment the clubs has made thus far, and being that he now has a full season in charge, expectations will be much higher than an 8th place finish. Last year Mancini came in November, therefore he didn’t have a preseason to work with the squad and employ his tactical philosophies. In addition, he didn’t have a summer transfer window in which he could work with the board to bolster the squad. However this time Mancini has had a proper preseason and a summer full of quality additions thus far, therefore the expectations will be much higher.
Although last season was a disappointing one for the Internazionale faithful, Champions league football is looking more like a target than a dream. With this summers new additions, Mancini at the helm for a full season, a favorable fixture list, and no European football to distract, the only way for Inter is up this season.
Article written by: @TheCreativeRole