Ahead of Southampton's latest Europa League clash, we got the lowdown on Inter from MondoFutbol.com reporter Roberto Brambilla.
How have Inter been doing since the game against Southampton two weeks ago?
Inter Milan live in a very difficult moment. On Tuesday, the club’s executives rescinded the contract of Dutch manager Frank de Boer, appointing youth coach Stefano Vecchi as caretaker. The former Ajax player paid for a poor start to the season, in which they lost seven of 14 games. After the match against Southampton, they lost 1-0 to Atalanta, in Bergamo, playing maybe their worst game of the season. The following match, they won against Torino FC at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, thanks to a stunning goal by team captain Mauro Icardi. But that didn't give a new impulse to Nerazzurri and they were defeated again by Sampdoria, on Sunday, in Genoa. Now Nerazzurri occupy 11th place in the Serie A standings.
How much do you think Inter learned from the first game?
Inter have to pay more attention to defence. In the home match against Southampton, Nerazzurri were often in trouble when the Saints attacked their defensive line. Paradoxically, that was the only game, alongside the Serie A victory against Empoli, where Inter haven't conceded a goal. However, two weeks ago, Southampton had too many chances to score, and if Nerazzurri want to earn three points at St Mary's they shouldn't repeat that defensive performance. Caretaker coach Vecchi has little time to work with the team, but he is a capable and pragmatic coach.
How impressed were you by Southampton in the first match?
It was known that Saints were a really good team. At Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, the side led by Claude Puel confirmed our previous impressions. In the first match, Southampton deserved not to lose. In the Saints squad, there are promising players, but also fully-formed and good footballers. Among them Dutch central defender Virgil van Dijk, who was good in leading the defence with authority, and thanks to his technical skills is the man who starts the build-up. He has a superior ability to find the right man with long-range passes and good timing in short play. In the near future, van Dijk could become a top European player.
How strong do you think Inter’s team will be on Thursday?
The game will be decisive for Inter. They have to win if they want to continue their Europa League campaign, and Nerazzurri will try to achieve this goal with debutant Stefano Vecchi on the bench. The 45-year-old manager signed for Inter in July 2014. After several spells in the second and third Italian division, Vecchi accepted the offer to coach the Inter Milan “Primavera” squad (the Under-19 team), winning the prestigious “Viareggio Cup World Football Tournament Coppa Carnevale” and the youth national cup – the Coppa Italia Primavera. Vecchi is an experienced and ambitious coach, whose teams are always very balanced.
Who will be Inter’s key players for the match?
Inter’s performances depend much on Mauro Icardi's scoring ability. The Argentinian striker has scored eight goals in his last 11 appearances. He is the decisive man in the attacking phase and one of his pieces of skill can change the match, as happened against Torino. As team captain, “Maurito” also has more duties – he has to help the team in this difficult moment.
What do you think will happen in the match?
Last Saturday, during the press conference before the match against Inter Milan, Sampdoria coach Marco Giampaolo said that he didn't know what to expect from the game. Nerazzurri have the talent to play a great match, but it could happen that they have a poor attitude. Basically, the Italian manager, who as a child was an Inter fan, emphasised that Inter Milan is considered a “crazy” team in Italy. The title of the club anthem is just “Pazza Inter, Amala!” which means "Crazy Inter, Love 'Em!"