No Lautaro, no problem: Inter show there are many ways to win with victory in Rome

Inter have recently managed to beat two of the top sides in Serie A with contrasting performances, and both games were won without Lautaro Martinez being at his electric best.

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No Lautaro, no problem. There are several ways you could summarise the two momentous wins Inter have achieved over the last week, but that could be one. Before the angry letters arrive, yes, we know that Lautaro Martinez played in both games.

But against Juventus and AS Roma, quiet nights for the on-fire capocannoniere-elect only helped underline the frightening array of weapons in Inter’s arsenal.   

It has been a huge week for Simone Inzaghi’s side, one that has firmly cemented their place as the side destined to win Serie A in 2023/24, if it needed cementing anymore.

Inter show two sides against Juventus and AS Roma

JuventusMatchday 23 visit to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza for a much-hyped Derby d’Italia was understandably billed as a potential Scudetto decider, while on Matchday 24 the Nerazzurri headed to the capital to face a buoyant Roma side brimming with newfound enthusiasm and endeavour after three straight wins under Daniele De Rossi.

The net result for Simone Inzaghi’s champions-elect was two wins, but they were earned in contrasting fashion. As deserved as it was, victory over Juventus came by a slender 1-0 margin thanks to an own goal and with the help of a boiling, boisterous Giuseppe Meazza.

In the capital, the win came under torrential rain, at a hostile venue, without their suspended coach, with a half-time deficit to overcome and in an end-to-end six-goal thriller.  

Lautaro leaves it to his teammates

On both occasions, Inzaghi’s side had the savvy and composure to get the result they needed – and at no point did they rely on Martinez to carry them over the line.

The World Cup-winning superstar is having the season of his life and is well on course to claiming his first capocannoniere crown, sitting on 19 goals, seven clear of nearest rival Dusan Vlahovic in that particular race.  

But there is so much more to this swashbuckling Inter side than their captain.

Against Juve, it was all about the midfield majesty of Hakan Calhanoglu, the tactical savviness of Inzaghi and the resoluteness of a rock-solid defence that isn’t getting nearly as many plaudits as it deserves.

The Inter backline has shipped only 12 goals this season in 23 games, the best record not only in Serie A but across Europe’s top-five leagues.

Nothing underlines their ability to see out a game more than the fact that they are yet to concede in the final 15 minutes of a league game in 2023/24. That, quite frankly, is outrageously impressive given it’s the period of the game in which most goals are scored.

Inter strikers Lautaro Martinez and Marcus Thuram (@Inter)

For that reason, De Rossi’s side can take pride in the pressure they put Inter under, particularly in a fierce first half where Roma became the first team to score twice against the Nerazzurri before the break since Empoli in May 2022.

But Inter’s response to adversity in the capital showed the breadth of their quality. They regained the lead within 11 minutes of the game restarting after turning the screw and ramping up the pressure, before threatening on the counter-attack once in front and ultimately getting a late fourth through just that method.

They showed a goal threat from defence, Francesco Acerbi nodding in the opener before Alessandro Bastoni was the surprising figure at the end of the stoppage-time breakaway.

They tested Roma from the wide areas, with Matteo Darmian and Federico Dimarco’s deliveries sparking Inter’s second-half comeback.

And while Martinez had a quiet evening, his mightily impressive partner-in-crime Marcus Thuram did not, tucking in the equaliser before forcing the second, which went down as an Angelino own goal but wouldn’t have happened without yet another smart run from the Frenchman.

Inter show no signs of throwing the title away

Inter players celebrate in front of the Curva Nord. [@Inter_en]

While their win over Juve was all about diligence, organisation and fight, they unleashed their full attacking fury against Roma and it proved unstoppable even without their top scorer making his mark.

Juve fans may have been left shaking their heads in a resigned fashion while watching that second half, if the Derby d’Italia itself wasn’t enough to convince them that challenging this Inter side will take something extraordinary.

Inzaghi’s men are on course to being remembered not only as a worthy Scudetto winner but as one of the best title-winning sides Italy has seen in years.

Barring a slip-up against Sassuolo in September, they have barely put a foot wrong all season in Serie A, and the last week suggests that they are unlikely to any time soon.

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