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Inter are closing in on Milan but Conte still has work to do at the club

Inter will have to cope with Eriksen
Inter will have to cope with Eriksen's departure.
ANALYST
Modified 24 Dec 2020, 00:14 IST
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With a 2-1 victory over newly-promoted Spezia, Inter moved within a point of rivals AC Milan in the Serie A standings. Antonio Conte’s men recorded their sixth successive win in the Italian first-division, thanks to goals from Achraf Hakimi and Romelu Lukaku.

Despite the fact that they are in strong contention for the title, winning the Serie A this season is will not be an easy feat for Inter. The competition is intense, with as many as five clubs still in contention. Milan and Inter may have been the pace-setters so far, but Juventus is not far behind.

Antonio Conte completed one and a half years at the club in December, but are yet to win any silverware at the club.

Fans expected little of Inter in the Champions League given Conte’s track-record and they were proven right. With one win from six group stage outings, Inter were knocked out of Europe last week. Conte’s last hope of silverware is now the Scudetto - a prize for which Inter has spent over 250 million euros since the Italian's appointment as manager.

The game against Spezia was quite comfortable for the majority of the 90 minutes until Inter almost did what they usually do: concede leads and sometimes victories in the dying minutes of the game. Fortunately, Roberto Piccoli’s goal came a little too late in the game for a comeback.

Despite their place in the table after 13 games, Inter has a lot of work to do this winter. Last season, the team took the pole position by Christmas but they were pushed out of the title race by spring. It was only after the COVID-19 lockdown that they managed to get on a winning run to come up second.

This season, the margins will be even tighter for Inter with both AC Milan and Juventus around them. Conte will have to utilize the extra rest days available to get his team fit for the weekend games.

The January transfer window will again be a busy one for the Nerazzuri, with as many as five players reported to be on their way out of the club. Out-of-favor midfielder Christian Eriksen is close to leaving the club, as are Radja Naianggolan and Matias Vecino. Ivan Perisic, who spent the last season on loan at Bayern, is expected to be released from his contract.

Inter wants to use their funds to buy a strong striker to pair up with Lukaku, as Lautaro Martinez has been going through a bad run of late. Conte’s future at the club hinges on Inter’s ability to land the Scudetto.

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Martinez: The Argentine predator has not been in the same form as last year.
Martinez: The Argentine predator has not been in the same form as last year.

Conte has to show more flexibility in his formations, and unless he improves the quality of wingbacks in his squad, winning the Scudetto will remain a distant dream. Ashley Young and Matteo Darmian have barely improved since they joined Inter.

Alexander Kolarov is past his prime and should be replaced in the winter window as well. Despite their positive domestic performances, Inter still suffers from an aging squad, which has shown vulnerabilities early in the season.

The January transfer market is fast approaching and Inter will have to be busy if they are to finally lift the big prize.

Published 22 Dec 2020, 23:51 IST
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