Inter demolished Chievo 5-0 on Sunday afternoon CET and the performance from the Nerazzurri was the most complete one so far under new coach Luciano Spalletti.
The former Roma tactician was missing three key players in Miranda, Matias Vecino, and Roberto Gagliardini but the Biscione remarkably played better without them and balanced defensive solidarity with attacking impetus.
Previous performances from Inter were scrappy at best but the Milanese giants were able to collect points despite their unconvincing displays. On Sunday the Nerazzurri were the dominant side from the first whistle despite some attacking forays from the Veronese team in the first half.
Without the three aforementioned absentees, Spalletti started Andrea Ranocchia in defence while Marcelo Brozovic and Joao Mario started in midfield. The changes in personnel also allowed Spanish midfielder Borja Valero to play in a deep-lying playmaker role instead of operating as an attacking midfielder behind Mauro Icardi.
Making these adjustments to the team without switching formation worked to Inter’s advantage. Valero had arguably his best game for the Biscione, completing 101 passes and passing with 98 per cent accuracy. Playing deeper allowed him to dictate the play and he had more space to do so than if he had played as a trequartista.
Joao Mario operated as an auxiliary playmaker in midfield by keeping his passes simple and effective. He wasted two chances to score in the first half but his attempted shot at the end of the match became an assist for Ivan Perisic’s third goal and the Bauscia‘s fifth of the match.
The attacking midfield role was occupied by Brozovic, who provided the assist for Icardi’s strike, and he also played a part in Milan Skriniar’s goal by switching the ball to Antonio Candreva on the right-wing before the former Lazio winger crossed for the Slovakian defender to head it in.
Candreva put in another energetic display on the right-wing and he could have scored in the opening minutes of the second half, but the clear standout individual was left-winger Ivan Perisic, who scored a hat-trick.
The Croatian international has been a match-winner for Inter in the past but has also lacked consistency. In 2017/18 he has scored seven goals in 15 Serie A matches and on current form he should be able to add to that tally with ease.
One of Inter’s clear strengths is its defence but it is incredible to see certain players in that back line against Chievo perform well under Spalletti’s tutelage. Danilo D’Ambrosio’s form this season has earned him call-ups to the Italian national team, Davide Santon reminded people why he was so highly rated in his teens, and Ranocchia was surprisingly reliable and confident.
D’Ambrosio made his regular forays forward but Santon in particular looked dangerous. He took a shot from the left before Perisic opened the scoring with the rebound and another powerful shot of his just went wide.
The 26-year-old has struggled with injuries in recent seasons but against Chievo he looked rapid and energetic, demonstrating why he was compared to Italian legends Giacinto Facchetti and Paolo Maldini in the late 2000s.
In recent years Ranocchia has been a source of ridicule because of his calamitous errors but he looked like transformed player against the Mussi Volanti. Solid in defence, comfortable playing the ball out from the back, and an aerial threat at set-pieces, the 29-year-old was able to join his team in attack without neglecting his defensive duties too much.
For all the outstanding performers in the team, it was intriguing that Inter centre-forward and captain Mauro Icardi scored just one goal, but it is a testament to his teammates for contributing with the goals and providing the Nerazzurri with additional scoring options.
The victory against Chievo result puts them on top of the Serie A table after 15 rounds and Spalletti’s team looks more convincing than what it was under Roberto Mancini two seasons ago.
Spalletti is in his first season as Inter coach but he has already created stability as well as demonstrating the ability to put out-of-form players back on track and the win against the Flying Donkeys was a fine of example of how the Nerazzurri squad have bought into his methods in a short time.