Inter’s 3-3 draw against Sassuolo seemed like another nail in the coffin for the Nerazzurri’s Scudetto race. For a season that began so brightly with a big win over Lecce, they haven’t exactly done justice to that promise. But more than anything, it has been down to their tendency to drop points against the lesser sides.
It has been a pattern of the whole season. Antonio Conte’s men shine and sparkle in many games- like they did to a large extent against Sampdoria. The goals from Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez were lovely to watch aesthetically. But in that very game, Inter’s soft underbelly was exposed.
They conceded and found themselves with a back to walls job all over again. While Claudio Ranieri’s men didn’t get anything from the game, there were many nervous moments that could’ve costed Inter right there. But against Sassuolo, that underbelly got exposed once again.
They initially trailed 1-0. They then led 2-1, before the neroverdi equalised. After Roberto Gagliardini’s open goal miss, they did score once but conceded a late equaliser. These sort of slip-ups have cost them the season and they could yet finish fourth as well.
Another example came against relegation-threatened Lecce- who they had beaten in the first game of the season by a 4-0 margin. After going 1-0 up, they conceded and had to settle for a point. Against Cagliari, Lautaro did score in the first-half from an Ashley Young cross. But they conceded late once again and Radja Nainggolan had come back to haunt him.
It nearly happened against Sassuolo earlier in the season as well. They found themselves 4-1 up with about 30 minutes to go. Despite dominating, they conceded twice and made it tough for themselves to lose 4-3. That game took place much earlier in the season and perhaps, that was an ominous sign that they failed to notice.
Not just in Serie A, the same happened in the UEFA Champions League as well. They were in a very comfortable position against Borussia Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park and were leading 2-0. But they somehow lost the game, enduring a 3-2 defeat. Against Barcelona, they were 1-0 up, but lost 2-1 after Ernesto Valverde had brought Arturo Vidal on to change the game. Conte though, left it too late to make his change.
And it is also one of Conte’s flaws. That game against Barcelona was the prime example, as he failed to make the subs at the right time and left it too late for an attacking change in Matteo Politano
As per Transfermarkt, Inter have been leading 24 times in the league but have won only 17 games. They’ve picked up six draws- the most after being in winning positions and they’ve lost once. In many ways, Conte’s pragmatic ways are not exactly reaping rewards for the club and that is one reason why they’ve dropped so many points.
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With a crucial summer transfer window approaching, it could prove to be very important in Inter’s future. Conte knows his system and needs players that fit that system.