Inter’s journey in the Champions League has come to an abrupt end against PSV on Tuesday evening. Needing to get a better result than Tottenham in the other Group B match Inter could not press through to reach the final 16.
Inter started their campaign in the best possible way, 2 matches down and 2 wins. They looked set to make it to the next stage of top flight European football. Having lost their first leg to Barcelona 2-0 and only getting a draw in the second leg Inter were still 3 points clear of 3rd place. With 2 matches remaining it was imperative that they did their best to achieve progression.
Inter travelled to Wembley to face Tottenham on match day 5 of the group stage. A draw here would seal their fate and allow for progression to the next stage. An 80th minute goal was the deciding factor on the day giving Tottenham the win. What this meant for Inter was that due to Head-to-head results, progression was no longer in their control. The only path of progression was to get a better result than Tottenham on the final match day.
Inter hosted PSV on match day 6 whilst Barcelona hosted Tottenham. Ultimately Inter’s fate was sealed when they walked out with a draw, whilst Tottenham did the same.
In the first half Inter looked a little shaky pressing PSV but leaving gaps in their defence. It took no longer than 13 minutes of play for PSV to score a goal. Asamoah could be held accountable for conceding so early in the match. Having not disposed of the ball right on the edge of the box he was overpowered by Steven Bergwijn. Bergwijn then directed the ball squarely into the box only for Lozano to head it in. It was at this point that Inter’s progression hopes took a turn in the wrong direction. Throughout the 1st half Inter looked lost, not knowing what to do with the ball when they had it. What made matter’s a little comforting was that Barcelona took the lead against Tottenham. Inter finished the half with not a single shot on target.
The second half commenced and it looked like there was a different Inter on the pitch. They seemed more organised, and determined to break through PSV’s defence. Pressing up the field hoping to find that breakthrough goal they were looking for. Spalletti then changed things up a bit. He took Antonio Candreva off with Keita Balde taking his spot, and Asamoah was replaced by Martinez. Ultimately this changed Inter’s formation to a 3-4-3 and a more attacking approach. It seemed to have worked, when only 4 minutes later Inter got that goal that they were looking for. Politano crossed the ball into the box, finding no other than Mauro Icardi, and to the delight of all Inter fans, and the 62,000 at the San Siro, he put the ball in the back of the net.
This was the breakthrough that they were looking so had for. With Tottenham still trailing Inter had 1 hand on qualification to the next stage. In the 83rd minute Spalletti, thinking that his job was done made a match defining decision. Taking Politano, who was Inter’s best attacker on the night off. In his place Sime Vrsaljko came on the pitch changing it back to a 4-3-3 formation. Only minutes later news came through that Tottenham had equalised, meaning Inter needed to win. With his dominant attacker off the field, Spalletti could not make any changes. Ultimately their fate was sealed, with Tottenham snatching qualification from Inters hands.
Where does this leave Inter?
Inter are now out of the Champions League, and have been moved to the Europa League. Although they are still competing in Europe, they will not be able to reap the rewards that the Champions League has to offer. Following their loss to Juventus and now being knocked out of the Champions league Inter must learn. Learn from their mistakes, and learn how to pick themselves up and get on with the job. Far too often has Inter fallen into a downward spiral when it comes to December in the season. They have always struggled to get the results, and this is normally followed by a form slump. If they have learnt from their old ways, it is time to change. Spalletti needs to ensure that the squad is not disheartened by their most recent result. There is still a job at hand.
Inter’s next match is against 17th placed Udinese, being played at the San Siro. It is the perfect way to pick up three points and restart their season. It is imperative that Inter get the 3 points against Udinese. Reason for this is that they want to maintain 3rd place on the Serie A table. Sunday morning’s fixture is one of utmost importance for Inter and their season. If Inter fail to get the full three points from this match management questions should be asked.