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Pressure eased, but questions still loom following Inter Milan's win over Barcelona

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6th October, 2022
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Inter Milan performed what could be described as the unthinkable on Wednesday morning in the Champions League.

But executing the seemingly unthinkable led the Italian giants to send out the perfect message to their rival Italian clubs and European competition: you slept on us far too soon!

What proceeded for the total 98 minutes against Barca was exactly the sort of performance the Nerazzurri needed to produce in front of their home faithful – a packed and beautifully vibrant San Siro.

The one man that was the most relieved to hear the final whistle? Manager Simone Inzaghi.

The Inter manager had been feeling the heat before the match, but the 46-year-old would have thanked his squad hugely for turning up in a big match.

Defensively, it was the best performance Inter have managed to put forward this season without a doubt. They did a brilliant job of keeping their defensive shape when allowing Barca to dictate possession, which then allowed them to strike the Catalonian outfit on the counter-attack throughout the encounter.

Hakan Çalhanoğlu, Nicolò Barella, Stefan De Vrij and Federico Dimarco were a few standout individuals amongst a team that performed magnificently well.

Çalhanoğlu’s first-half strike proved to be the difference as Inter made a crucial statement at such an early part of the season to ensure their 1-0 win over Barcelona.

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Prospects currently look bright in Europe as they now sit second behind Bayern Munich in Group C with six points, and look to progress out of the group stage in back-to-back seasons.

Despite fortunes looking better in European competition, questions and concerns still exist following the 2010 Champions League winners’ start to the 2022-23 Serie A campaign, where they find themselves in ninth, with four wins and four defeats from their first eight matches.

One area of concern amongst Inter fans surrounds the goalkeeper situation between the man set to take over for years to come in André Onana, and veteran shot-stopper Samir Handanović.

Onana has received the nod from Inzaghi in all three of Inter’s Champions League matches so far this season and has produced two clean sheets, while Handanović has stepped between the posts in all eight of Inter’s matches in Serie A – producing just two clean sheets.

Though we must take into account that not all of Inter’s frailties displayed so far at the back are Handanović’s fault, the time has come for Inzaghi to make Onana the No.1 option going forward – especially knowing the criticism Handanović has had to deal with after some poor performances.

Not only has Onana produced quality saves in the little time we have seen him play, but the Cameroon international is also very good with his feet – which fits the mould of the modern day goalkeeper.

On the other end of the pitch, Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku’s presence is sorely missed as Inter’s current front men of Lautaro Martínez, Edin Džeko and Joaquín Correa have not been firing on all cylinders so far this term.

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(Photo by Mattia Ozbot – Inter/Inter via Getty Images)

I can definitely envision last season’s Coppa Italia and Supercopa champions results getting a lot better when the 29-year-old returns to the fold, but if he is unable to shift Inter’s league form in the right direction, you cannot help but feel that Inzaghi’s tenure could come to a sour end.

Strange to comprehend that scenario eventuating when you consider the fact he did a fantastic job in his first season last term, having claimed two of the domestic cup titles mentioned above, coupled with finishing in second place behind league winners AC Milan by just two points.

Though this singular result does not paper over all the cracks that have appeared thus far during the season, it was the sort of team performance the Nerazzurri needed to produce to tackle recent concerns.

What does this result mean for Inter moving forward?

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