Inter can only perform in big games: Could their tough Serie A run-in play in their favour?

Big games don't tend to be an issue for Inter, but fixtures against apparent smaller sides do. That Simone Inzaghi's side have a tough Serie A run-in, then, should see the Nerazzurri at their best until the end of the season.

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MILAN: Even a convincing 2-0 win over Benfica in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final wasn’t enough of a boost to help Inter get rid of their Serie A demons, as they fell to their 11th league defeat at the hands of Monza four days later, their third consecutive loss at home, once again with the same exact scoreline that has recently saw Fiorentina and Juventus come out of the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza with all three points – 1-0.

The plot of yet another Nerazzurri drama was far from surprising to anybody who has watched them this season – they had a total of 25 shots, six on target and a 1.89 xG, but it didn’t prove enough to find a breakthrough against a Monza side that had conceded at least one goal in each of their previous seven Serie A fixtures. More than just by Michele Di Gregorio‘s saves, Inter were held back again by their own lack of precision and poor execution in the final third.

It’s becoming a recurring theme for the fans at the Meazza every week to see any of their players miss the target from point-blank range, take an extra touch before shooting or wait too long to play a pass that could cut the opponents’ defence wide open, adding to the general sense of frustration.

Inter coach Simone Inzaghi during the game against Cremonese. (REUTERS/Alberto Lingria)

While Inter’s issues are plentiful, the lack of goals from their strikers is impossible to overlook – Joaquin Correa and Edin Dzeko haven’t found the net since October and January respectively, Lautaro Martinez bagged his last Serie A goal in early March, while Romelu Lukaku scored his only open-play goal in Serie A on the opening day of the season.

Their inability to score is certainly at the heart of the miserable streak that has seen them slip out of the Serie A top four in recent weeks, but many have also questioned the whole attitude of a team that have lost their last five Serie A matches against sides sitting behind them in the table, after an opening month of 2023 that had seen the Nerazzurri defeat Napoli, AC Milan (twice) and an in-form Atalanta across Serie A, Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana.

Inter’s tough Serie A fixture list

However, if the strength of their opponents and the importance of a game are really determining factors in influencing their focus and motivation, Inter could paradoxically benefit from a tougher fixture list that awaits them in the season’s final stretch.

Robin Gosens celebrates opening the scoring for Inter against Salernitana. [@Inter_en]

Of their eight remaining matches, three of them will see the Nerazzurri take on Lazio, AS Roma and Atalanta, all of whom are top-four contenders at the very least. Another game will be played on May 21 away to Napoli, who in all probability will already be crowned champions by then.

Such a series of fixtures will present Inter players with the chance to prove the theory that says they need tough fixtures to find motivation. While it wouldn’t say much for their professionalism, it would be instrumental to help the club secure the chance to play Champions League football next season, which is all that matters before a probable squad overhaul in the summer.

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