Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival in Italy could be likened to winning a lottery. The Portuguese superstar has already started liting up the Serie A and Juventus will benefit. However, amidst the whole glamour, Inter Milan could spring surprises for the Scudetto this season.
Indeed Massimiliano Allegri flaunts the strongest squad on paper, especially after Ronaldo and Leonard Bonucci’s high-profile additions.
Allegri is spoilt for choice. There are 24-25 possible starters. The manager could elect to field three different teams in the league, Cup and Champions League without even losing sleep.
It is that good.
However, sometimes the script doesn’t really go as planned. The difference between football matches and theatre. Inter Milan could play the spoilers.
Unlike the Bianconeri who spent heavily, Luciano Spalleti’s men aren’t under any pressure. Remaining in Europe would be a major milestone. But amidst such unheralded status, there is unpredictability.
That’s not to say the Nerazzurri underwhelmed in the market. By their standard, it was a hugely successful summer.
While balancing the books, discarding several dead woods, Inter did make some clever investment. Arturo Vidal’s eventual preference for Barcelona bench would hurt for a while. Not for too long though if Radja Nainggolan, Lautaro Martínez, Sime Vrsaljko, Stefan de Vrij and Balde Keita find their feet in quickly.
Joao Miranda and Milan Škriniar struck a fine partnership last term. While the Slovak enjoyed playing the ball; flawless in his passing, Miranda watched his back. Their partnership was the league’s fourth-best last term. It could be better. Kwadwo Asamoah and Vrsaljko bring quality on the flanks. De Vrij, too, adds depth in the centre.
At 30, Nainggolan is obviously not the best long-term strategy. At least for the campaign ahead, the controversial Belgian will give a much-needed boost in midfield, even if it means installing a cigarette machine in the home dressing room. Nainggolan is in good company. He would slot alongside Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic although he may not understand any Croat word.
In attack, however, there’s an even more tantalizing prospect with Mauro Icardi and Martinez. Being compatriots they won’t need eternity to blend. The ex-Racing club attacker is expected to operate from a deeper role allowing Icardi to take up a more advanced position.
This should give Inter a more balanced attack than last season when Icardi felt the need to drop back, diminishing his goal threat in the process.
Above all, the league fixture schedule seems to be in Inter’s favour. They begin against Sassuolo, Torino, Bologna and Parma, and a good set of results in those games could give them momentum heading into clashes with Sampdoria and Fiorentina.
With a favourable schedule, a stronger starting XI and more strength in depth, Inter will be confident of competing on multiple fronts this term. And with Napoli undergoing a transition period under new boss Carlo Ancelotti, the Beneamata could find themselves in the mix for a top-two finish come the winter break.
Written by Toby Prince
Follow Toby on Twitter @prinzToby
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