Inter’s squad rotation comes at expense of momentum as Napoli rediscover form

Inter coach Simone Inzaghi made plenty of changes ahead of the Coppa Italia and Champions League finals, but his side were resoundingly beaten by Napoli.


Inter fell to a first defeat in nine matches as two stunning goals gave Napoli a 3-1 win at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Serie A on Sunday, ahead of a series of crunch fixtures for the Champions League and Coppa Italia finalists.

Playing their first match since booking a place in the Champions League final at the expense of city rivals AC Milan, Inter were seeking to maintain their momentum after a run of eight consecutive wins in all competitions.

Inzaghi rings the changes

With a clash against newly crowned Premier League champions Manchester City in Istanbul to come, as well as a Coppa Italia final on Wednesday, coach Simone Inzaghi was looking to balance continuing their form at a crucial juncture in the season and affording some of his players a much-needed rest.

As such, Federico Dimarco, Matteo Darmian, Francesco Acerbi, Hakan Calhanoglu, Marcelo Brozovic, and Lautaro Martinez were all benched, with rare starts for the likes of Danilo D’Ambrosio, Raoul Bellanova, Kristjan Asllani, and Roberto Gagliardini.

The latter was given a first half red card for a pair of bookings in quick succession, and Inter were second best for much of the match, particularly after Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa‘s wonderful goal for Napoli.

Inzaghi‘s side fought their way back into the game with a poacher’s goal late on by Romelu Lukaku, but a stunning Giovanni Di Lorenzo strike with just minutes remaining snatched the points for Napoli.

Focus on Coppa Italia final

Inter have a cup final to contest against Fiorentina in midweek before difficult league matches against Atalanta and Torino precede the Champions League final.

Whilst the Nerazzurri have played seemingly endless amounts of football since the last international break, the decision to make wholesale changes could cost them in the top four race as Lazio and Milan close in.

With the Champions League qualification race as tight as ever, Inter would have hoped to have taken at least a point in Naples to allow them to focus on their cup finals, but have offered a window of opportunity to their rivals.

Inter strikers Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez (@Inter)

Napoli rediscover spark

Napoli, meanwhile, have seen their form abandon them since lifting the scudetto, with just 12 points from their last eight league games since the start of April.

With rumours of difficulties behind the scenes and the future of coach Luciano Spalletti far from certain, the good times at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona may be reaching the end as quickly as they started.

The angry reaction of top scorer Victor Osimhen at being substituted also suggested that all is not well at the club, but Spalletti‘s side were still able to record a crucial victory as they look to end an historic season on a high.

The impact of Di Lorenzo late on was a fitting touch, with the captain netting his first home goal of a hugely impressive season from right-back.

Similarly, boyhood Napoli fan Gianluca Gaetano wrapped up the win in stoppage time to give supporters further reason to celebrate.


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