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The euphoric scenes in San Siro which marked the end of Inter’s dramatic 3-2 victory over arch-rivals AC Milan were symbolic of much more than mere Derby Milano jubilation.
The Nerazzurri faithful will never tire of getting one over on their city cousins – true – but this particular triumph served to represent something of greater significance. Inter are back!
Not only did Sunday night’s win allow Luciano Spalletti’s side to open up a huge ten-point lead over the Rossoneri, but it also moved them three points clear of Juventus after their 2-1 defeat at the hands of Lazio on Saturday evening.
What’s more, these results leave La Beneamata two points adrift of Napoli, who they are set to meet this weekend in a head-to-head clash at Stadio San Paolo.
Project ahead of project
Despite the fact Mauro Icardi’s stunning hat-trick has propelled Inter into contention for the Scudetto, there is a sense that this project is now very much ahead of schedule and that Champions League qualification remains the ‘real’ objective this season.
That’s not to say that players and fans aren’t allowed to dream however.
It is surreal to think that, just a couple of months ago, Chinese owners Suning were branded clueless by many fans and pundits who had expected the club to invest more significant sums of money in the summer transfer market.
However, shrewd additions such as Milan Škriniar and Borja Valero, as well as the retention of key players like Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perišić, have catapulted Inter into second place.
Those same fans and pundits now believe Inter have a realistic shot at winning the title. Isn’t it amazing how perceptions can change so quickly in football?
Spalletti is the main man
Even after just a few months together, it is clear Spalletti is in complete control, he has the respect of the dressing room, and the players are willing to hang on his every word.
The same certainly cannot be said about several of his predecessors during the disastrous post-Mourinho era. The squad grew increasingly fractious with the likes of Walter Mazzarri and Roberto Mancini at the helm, while last season was nightmarish from start to finish.
There is definitely a great sense of togetherness at the club now, the kind of which hasn’t been seen since the aforementioned Portuguese tactician departed having clinched an historic treble back in 2010.
As Spalletti rightly pointed out after the match on Sunday, it was vital for Inter to get points on the board early this season. The players can now afford to work calmly, with the self-assurance that comes from picking up good results.
Optimism is growing among Nerazzurri fans that this can be their year, so let’s see if the players can live up to the billing and produce a Scudetto-worthy performance in Naples on Saturday night.
Written by Jordan Russell
Follow Jordan on Twitter @JordRuss96
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