The most popular word in Australian sport right now appears to be hub.
With five wins on the trot to start the season, is Inter Milan finally a contender to Juventus’ Serie A domination?
After defeating AC Milan and Lazio in the last two games, Internazionale has proved to be a real scudetto contender for the first time in years.
Inter last won the Serie A in 2009-10 – in the same year they won the Champions League – with AC Milan winning the year after. Since then, the scudetto has been entrenched in Juve’s side of Turin.
Last season Inter managed only two wins and a draw in the first five rounds, spectacularly falling at home versus Sassuolo and newly promoted Parma.
On the other side, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus was firing on all cylinders with five wins in as many games, a streak that eventually was broken with a draw at home versus Genoa. While it wasn’t Juve’s best season, they eventually won their eighth-straight title.
This year not only Inter has won all their games so far, but the Old Lady had her first glitch, a scoreless draw in Florence, following a lucky win versus Napoli at home thanks to an own goal in injury time. With Juve’s bloated squad – alongside new coach Maurizio Sarri, this might be the time for Inter to pounce.
Inter secret lies outside of the pitch – it is in the club’s manager, former coach at Juventus, Nazionale and Chelsea, Antonio Conte.
Conte has immediately instilled his hallmark defensive solidity in the team and made the best of newcomer Belgian star Romelu Lukaku power in counterattack.
Compare that to Luciano Spalletti’s first five games, Conte’s Inter has leaked only one goal compared to four and scored ten goals versus six the previous year. It has been an impressive turn around so far.
The next round will see Inter visit struggling Sampdoria and Juventus host SPAL before ‘Italy’s derby’ on October the 6th, when Juventus will travel to Stadio Giuseppe Meazza for the biggest game of the first half of the season.
This will be the true test for Conte’s men – will they take it?