?Luciano Spalletti and his Inter side continued their perfect start to the Serie A season against newly promoted upstarts SPAL. Inter fielded a side with three new faces from the summer transfer window, with Dalbert at left back, Borja Valero in midfield. and Milan Skriniar partnering Miranda at centre back.
SPAL featured two veteran strikers in their ranks, in the form of Marco Borriello and Alberto Paloschi, who would look to make things difficult for their hosts.
Spalletti’s men played very cohesively with a high press, and the hard work of Ivan Perisic paid off early, as he slipped in Roberto Gagliardini, who struck a low shot just wide from the edge of the SPAL penalty area.
The early warning signs looked to have been issued.
Inter quickly got their claws into the game, with their opposition comfortably affording them possession, instead looking for the counter. Whilst they were very comfortable with the ball, it led to one or more Inter players taking one or more sloppy touches when they did venture into the SPAL penalty area.
Inter’s confidence continued to grow, and there was some controversy after 20 minutes when Spalletti’s men were awarded a free kick after a fluid passing move – with the contact for the foul on Joao Mario appearing to come inside the penalty area.
The VAR was consulted, and after FIVE awkward minutes of the crowd whistling and the referee looking sheepish, the penalty was rightly awarded. Icardi calmly rolled his spot kick into the bottom left corner, and Inter had their breakthrough.
??The Argentine striker had the chance to double Inter’s tally very shortly after, but chose to shoot near post, rather than square the ball for the darting run of Joao Mario.
The combination of pressing and fluidity was now really tarting to flow for Inter, and SPAL were looking more and more rattled with each attack against them. Candreva forced a fine save from Alfred Gomis with a dipping effort from range, as Inter looked for a second goal before the break.
SPAL had their best chance of the match in first half stoppage time. Paloschi found himself in behind the Inter defence, but could not sort his feet out in time to angle his shot correctly, slicing his shot horribly askew, meaning SPAL’s only clear chance of the match went begging.
After a cagey (at best) performance in the first half, SPAL made a clear effort to go toe-to-toe with their hosts as the second half got underway, keeping far more of the ball, and creating passing moves, at times exposing an Inter defence that was perhaps a little complacent after their earlier dominance.
Paloschi made intelligent runs, whilst Serie A journeyman Borriello looked to put the ‘value’ in ‘nuisance value’ for his twelfth professional club. As a result, the game began to open up, with the midfield duo of Gagliardini and Borja Valero – the latter of which was a human metronome in the first half – began to look stretched, as both sides pushed to score.
Skriniar – already catching the eye for Inter with some committed defensive work – nearly broke Gomis’ crossbar with a looping long shot that had SPAL’s keeper completely rooted where he stood.
After a frantic half hour at the beginning of the second half, Inter began to control proceedings once again, bringing on extra midfielders in Marcelo Brozovic and Matias Vecino to shore things up, whilst SPAL continued to throw on attacking players like Federico Bonazzoli and former Leeds United striker Mirko Antenucci.
Inter killed the game with five minutes to go, however, with Peresic – a peripheral figure for most of the match – volleying a supreme strike past Gomis, to give the Nerazzuri some breathing room in the tie.
Inter very nearly found time for a third goal – which would’ve flattered them even more – on the counter, with substitute Eder heading Brozovic’s cross just wide.
Ultimately, Spalletti and Inter’s perfect start to the season continued, although after an impressive performance and win against Roma before the international break, fans might have expected a more convincing result at home to one of the division’s new boys.