When Juventus played out to a 1-1 draw against Leece in the earlier kickoff on Saturday, it probably looked like Inter were given a rare opportunity to go top in the Serie A standings.
With Inter to play 9th place Parma (at the time), it was three points waiting to be sealed and Inter were going to capitalize on the slip-up from Juventus earlier in the day. All the major headlines in the build-up to Inter’s game pointed towards that direction but we all saw a script that no one expected play out at the San Siro. In the most unexpected turn of events, Inter could only settle for a 2-2 draw with Parma and if Lukaku didn’t get lucky with his goal, the story could have been much more negative.
It was only the second time Juventus dropped points in the Serie A, with the first being against Fiorentina in a 0-0 stalemate last month. That moment was the very one that initially saw Inter take the initial point lead on the log standings up until they were defeated by Juventus themselves early this month (6th October).
While we can’t say too much to point that Inter have played badly in the past few weeks, it would appear that the battle to go top and remain there for the Nerazzurri is much more mental than physical or tactical.
Firstly, the media and neutrals alike have not helped Inter a lot lately. Yes, Inter probably look like the only side capable of snatching the Serie A stronghold from the Bianconeri this time around but when it’s talked about literally every time, the Inter players are bound to feel some sort of pressure heap on them sooner or later. So high the standard has been set for Conte and his men that some air of disappointment was evident in the headlines when Inter lost to Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
A venue where many other teams would have been more than happy to go home with Inter’s performance on the night regarding the result (as the Camp Nou can be a lion’s den even for the best teams in Europe).
On the positive side, that shows how much ambition and quality Inter have this time around but on the flip side it tells the story that too much is being asked from Inter too soon and they might not be able to deliver.
Which all points to the fact that Inter should not set their sights out-rightly on Juventus but should focus on themselves and make the game plan to win games – one at a time. You can’t blame the Inter team to be honest. Left, right and centre all they’re being asked about is how long they can keep up with Juventus at the top. And when that becomes a norm, it more or less fuels their obsession with their rival team rather than on themselves.
Based on the above narrative, It’s rather ironic that prior to the Parma game, Inter CEO Beppe Marotta was wary of Inter focusing on themselves. Much like he knew something could go wrong potentially.
Marotta was stopped by an Italian broadcaster of Sky Sport Italia moments before kick-off in the Serie A clash where the Nerazzurri hosted Parma at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, in Milano’s San Siro district.
“We shouldn’t look at the league table but instead we should look inside ourselves. The result in Lecce has not affected this match. This is the message that Conte wants to send to the squad and all of us.” as quoted by SempreInter
When the CEO of a club makes those statements, It can only mean he’s noticed such talk a lot among his side or he’s been asked too much of those questions lately. All pointing once again to the heavy mental burden placed on the re-branding Inter side to deliver.
Probably only the likes of Godin (with Atletico), Asamoah (with Juventus) and a few others know what it feels like to win a title and that lack of mental maturity might be the key factor with the Inter side. You don’t just stop a team that has won for the past eight seasons (Marca) in a heartbeat. It’s a process that will require patience and a good amount of consistency.
Just like Godin’s comments last month in an interview with Marca suggested. The 33-year-old veteran defender did mention it slightly and it’s obvious he was talking from experience going back to when his Atletico side were emerging in the midst of galacticos Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Talking about Inter’s Scudetto chances, the former Atletico man said to Marca,
“Scudetto? This is all to see. Juve has strengthened again and has a solid base for years, this is an advantage.”
“But Inter is ambitious, we want to fight in all the competitions, but now it is early to talk about these things and we will certainly have to go through difficult times.”
Experience is surely the best teacher and perhaps Godin should be having more pep talks with the younger Inter players later in the season. In spite of all this, Inter should not be wary of Juventus only as their second position is even under threat from a fully confident Atalanta side coming from the back of a 7-1 trashing they gave Udinese at the weekend.
Atalanta now sit at 20 points (Skysports), meaning only three points separate Juventus (23 points), Inter (22 points) and Atalanta (14) already have a better goal difference than both sides with Juventus at eight and Inter at 11.
However, the biggest lesson learnt from the weekend’s action is that Juventus still remain favourites for the Scudetto and Inter’s biggest obstacle might not the Bianconeri but actually more of themselves and perhaps a certain Atalanta side if you like.