Inter Milan managed to win their second consecutive match in the league after a narrow 1-0 win over Sampdoria. This victory helped keep the club in the contention for a Champions League spot at the end of the season. Inter have taken just 15 points from the opening nine matches and they already trail leaders Juventus by a mammoth seven points. More importantly, just one point separates them from the third place in the league. Finishing in third place will be enough to get a club into the qualification stages of the Champions League.
After this win, manager Walter Mazzarri appeared to be a pleased man, but he was also aware that Inter would not be able to get victories against top teams if they had such poor finishing skills. He has stated that the club should target scoring more goals in the coming matches. Inter have averaged just over a goal per game, while also conceding a similar amount. The form of teams around them like AC Milan and Sampdoria will give them a lot of confidence going into the upcoming matches against Parma and Hellas Verona.
Inter will also have to concentrate on the Europa league in the meantime. They have made a fine start and are top of their Europa league group with seven points from the three matches. “We’ve beaten a side that had not lost once this season. The only negative is that we couldn’t take more of our chances,” the Inter coach said at a press conference. At the end of the day, we’ve won, but hopefully we’re saving up the goals for the next match. I think my team put in a great performance in terms of the football we played. We’re happy with how the lads are playing. This is a united group made up of good men. This team feels truly mine,” said Mazzarri.
Italy’s national team boss Antonio Conte recently oversaw his first match as an international manager. Italy played against Norway in the first Euro 2016 qualifiers after having just beaten Netherlands in a friendly. Both games finished as a 2-0 victory for the Italians, which pleased manager Conte. One of the high-profile absentees in the Italian squad for these two matches was Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli, who recently returned back to England in a £ 16 million deal from AC Milan. The forward was valued much higher before the World Cup 2014, but the return of just one goal in three matches did not help his valuation.
Balotelli has also been singled out by many as one of the reasons for the exit, as he was astronomically poor in the group matches against Uruguay and Costa Rica. His only goal came in the opening match against England. Balotelli has previously been criticised by former manager Cesare Prandelli on several occasions in order to keep up his form. Conte deciding to omit the 24-year-old has raised a lot of eyebrows, but the former Juventus manager has confirmed that he has not left out Balotelli in order to send out a message. Conte will have to overcome accusations of favouritism within players in order to succeed as the Italy boss.
“We have been monitoring every match. The call-ups are based on those we observed, with those we had footballing evidence on. I don’t have to send a message to anyone. Those who know me know very well how I operate, how I am, I do not present gifts to anyone. I also told the lads that today there is this group and that as long as they deserve to be in the national squad, to wear the Azzurri shirt they will remain, but that doesn’t mean that who’s there today will be there tomorrow and vice versa,” said Conte.
Inter Milan have so far been a mixed bag in the pre-season. After managing to beat Real Madrid on penalties in the first pre-season friendly match, they were defeated by United in a similar fashion in the next encounter. This has been followed by a 2-0 win over Roma. As a result, Inter have effectively stayed unbeaten during the three pre-season matches. This has improved expectations ahead of the new season. Last campaign, the club could only manage a fifth-place finish in the league. This meant that they will have to satisfy themselves with only Europa league football for the coming campaign.
For a club that has won Champions League titles only a few years ago, this is not good enough. Mazzarri has accepted this and he says that the club will be challenging on all fronts in the coming campaign. The former Napoli manager recently signed a contract extension despite many fans calling for his head. This is seen as a move from Inter to give a big support the manager. They started last campaign in excellent fashion, but a title challenge went away midway through the season. Mazzarri is keen on rectifying this mistake in the upcoming season, but he says that people should not to give too much importance to the win over Roma.
“So far everything has worked well in the US. Now we face Roma. It is worth a lot for us to beat Roma, but we must look beyond the result. They are a very strong side and we know it will be a good test, but this isn’t Serie A yet. We don’t want to lose Kovacic, so he’ll be on the bench and will possibly play a few minutes, but without running any risks. I wanted to let him start this one, but in training I saw he’s still struggling a little,” said Mazzarri before the Roma match.