Inter’s final hurdle: Nerazzurri’s mental resilience to be tested in final stage of Serie A title march

Inter claiming the Serie A title increasingly appears to be a matter of when and not if, but Simone Inzaghi and his Nerazzurri will have their resolve tested in the coming weeks after recent disappointments.

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As an untracked Juan Jesus popped up at the far post to give Napoli an 81st-minute equaliser against his former side Inter, the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza fell into silence. After that initial inhalation and shock, a sense of surprise and disenchantment was palpable inside the famous old theatre of football.

It was the first time since Inter‘s opening fixture of 2024 against Hellas Verona that a team had managed to come back after falling behind away to the champions-elect. Then, the hosts still went on to secure a 2-1 win through a late Davide Frattesi strike.

Inter players Davide Frattesi and Lautaro Martinez celebrate a goal. (@Inter)

This time, though, their efforts were stifled by a Napoli side that put Inter’s 10-game winning streak in Serie A to an end. It immediately seemed no coincidence that such an event came right after the Biscione’s worst night of 2024 which marked their Champions League exit.

Inter’s reaction to their Champions League exit

The feeling of Inter being a near-perfect and unbeatable team was broken by their Champions League exit at the hands of Atletico Madrid. But like countless times prior, the Nerazzurri had a strong start and found a way to break through their opponents’ attempts at resisting them.

But after putting pressure on Napoli and forcing Alex Meret into some good saves, Inter took their foot off the gas in a way that suggested they thought they could cruise to victory against the outgoing champions. But that was a mistake that was punished, and not a mistake they would have made before their European elimination.

That lack of ruthlessness in front of goal prompted memories of the Inter of 2022/23. Then, their 12 league defeats saw them a long way shy of the Serie A title, leading to enormous pressure mounting on Simone Inzaghi.

Inter’s Davide Frattesi, among others, applauds the fans. (@Inter)

But fast forward nine-or-so months and Inter sit, with nine games to spare, 14 points clear of second-placed AC Milan, having managed to right so many of their wrongs from last season. With that making any slip unlikely to prevent them from getting their hands on the Scudetto, the Nerazzurri will need to be mindful.

Inter‘s next fixtures, featuring matches against Empoli, Udinese and Cagliari should see them get back into a routine of winning comfortably, and it may tell us something about their mental state following the penalty shootout loss to Atleti.

Inter and Inzaghi will hope that their late slip at home to Napoli will prevent them from further down the line, that lessons have been learned, and it is but another step in their journey of maturation.

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