Inter and Conte have followed the script so far as they maintain a close chase with Juventus in the Serie A. After 13 games so far, Conte’s side remain neck to neck with the Bianconeri as only a solitary point separates both sides.
With Juventus at a tally of 35 points and Inter closely behind with 34 points, the closest side to both teams is third-placed Lazio with 27 points, laying emphasis on the fact that it’s more than safe to call the league a two-horse race at this stage.
As it stands, Inter have done all they can (except beating Juventus) and would need more than just luck to snatch the top spot from the hands of Juve.
However, Inter might have one factor that could potentially play out in their favour.
Inter’s brilliant run in the Serie A has not taken the same positive route in Europe and as it stands, the Nerazzurri face a strong possibility of dropping into the Europa League.
Of course, the Champions League is surely the holy grail of competitions but in this case, an exit from Europe’s top prized stage could not be all that detrimental – quite the opposite.
No Champions League…no problem
Mathematically, Inter still have a chance of making the Champions League round of 16, but that exception is not solely in their hands alone. Inter lie third in Group F, three points behind Borussia Dortmund in second place and four points behind Barcelona in first place (UEFA).
Meaning Inter would have to win their last two games and hope Dortmund lose both their fixtures in the process.
Surely, Inter’s next fixture against Slavia Praha is a “should win” but a final group tie against Barcelona becomes tricky considering Dortmund would then be facing the bottom side Slavia Praha on the same day.
Should Inter drop to the Europa League, suddenly their chances of winning not just the Scudetto (potentially) gets further spread to the possibility of a European trophy as well.
Based on the football we’ve witnessed this season, the Nerazzurri would definitely be favourites to win the competition and with the quality around the team, only a few teams in the Europa League will be able to withstand Inter and Conte.
It doesn’t end on the European front but it even gives them a slight advantage over fierce rivals Juventus domestically. The Bianconeri are top of their Champions League group and would no doubt make it to the next round.
Having won the Scudetto for the past eight seasons, there is a burning desire within the Juventus ranks to bring the UCL trophy to the Allianz stadium.
Moreso, Juve’s talisman Cristiano Ronaldo has a personal UCL affinity of his own and a recent report via SportsMole even stated that the Portuguese could leave the club at the end of the season if they fail to win the competition.
Considering the fact that Juve would have to maintain the same top-level and competitive edge in both the Champions League and the Serie A, Inter meanwhile can afford to play other players in the Europa League and save the best for the Serie A which they hope to snatch from the hands of Juve.
When you further consider that Inter still have Alexis Sanchez and Stefano Sensi waiting to return to action, it makes the above narrative all the way better.
The likes of Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, who have been phenomenal in the Serie A – can be given breathers against “lesser” sides in the Europa League to ensure they stay fit and firing for the domestic league.
As per Goal, in-form Lukaku is the first Inter player to score 10 goals in the first 13 match-days of a debut Serie A season since Stefano Nyers in 1948-49, and surely Conte will try to keep the Belgian from suffering a potential burnout. Ample rest on a couple of occasions in the Europa League could be the answer to that
Lautaro Martinez has been brilliant as well and fired home his ninth goal of the season against Torino at the weekend. The Argentine has averaged a goal every 135 minutes (Transfermarkt) and it’s equally important how key he has been for Inter as well and further proves his fruitful partnership with Lukaku up front.
In a nutshell, having either of both players fresh at all times gives Conte the room to balance the scoring workload while still keeping both players in check.
Being a serial winner, Antonio Conte would surely relish a European title of any sort but the biggest trophy he would like to win come the end of the season, is one that involves him breaking the long-time dominance his former employers have had in the Serie A.