Inter Scudetto: escape and triumph, ride to the stars with ten victories in a row at the beginning of 2024


By John

Looking at everyone from the top of the table sometimes makes you dizzy. How many times have leading teams deflated, either due to negative moments in form, or due to the more classic “failure”, the fear of being one step away from victory. It had already happened to Simone Inzaghi's Inter in 2021/22 when, on the run against Milan, he made a comeback first in the derby and then in the standings, also moving on from a bitter defeat like the one against Bologna to put the scudetto in the hands of his Rossoneri cousins. However, the best know how to learn from their mistakes and Inter's journey towards the twentieth scudetto in their history was also born from the mistakes made in recent seasons. The second tricolor of the Zhang era, the one worth the second star, bears the signature of Simone Inzaghi, capable of succeeding Antonio Conte in the list of winning coaches at the Nerazzurri, ideally closing the circle after the disappointment of that championship lost in the head to head with Milan when the coach from Piacenza was in his first season on the Inter bench.

This time, however, there were no errors, there were no major stutters: Inter has traveled at a very high pace throughout the season with only Juventus keeping the pace until the direct clash in the second round. But, like the great cyclists on the Dolomite stages, the Nerazzurri maintained such a high speed that they overtook all their rivals step by step, with the Bianconeri collapsing at the end to the point of being overtaken by Milan as Inter's main rival. So much so that Inter will ultimately end the season as the solitary leaders in 32 of the 38 championship days, basically only at the beginning of the year and a small interval linked above all to the recovery of the match against Atalanta in the second leg after the commitments in the Italian Super Cup.

And to say that there was no shortage of doubts about Inzaghi's team at the beginning of the season. Also because Inter had lost a backbone not recently, with the farewells in particular of Handanovic, Onana, Skriniar, Brozovic, Dzeko and Lukaku, replaced by the various Sommer, Pavard, Frattesi, Arnautovic and Thuram: having removed the French defender who arrived from Bayern, anything but certainties. So much so that in the first two days the Nerazzurri beat Monza and Cagliari thanks to Lautaro Martinez (three goals in the first 180') but without impressing from a playing point of view. The next two matches, however, made it clear what Inzaghi's team could be capable of: first the 4-0 against Fiorentina, then the 5-1 in the derby against Milan, a double performance of strength which led many to indicate the Nerazzurri as the absolute favorites for the title. It wasn't a walk in the park, however, also because the first missteps arrived already in the autumn, with the defeat at home against Sassuolo and the 2-2 comeback against Bologna (after having taken a 2-0 lead ). From that moment, however, Inter made little or no mistakes in the league, also thanks to the choice to focus on turnover in the Champions League group stage to be at the top in Serie A. After the victory signed by Thuram against the Roma of the much booed ex Lukaku, the draw in the direct clash with Juventus in Turin seemed to have left the championship still in balance. But that draw was followed by other tests of strength, such as the 3-0 at Maradona against reigning Italian champions Napoli, and other complicated moments. Like, for example, the draw against Genoa at Marassi in the last match of 2023 but also the 93rd minute victory scored by Frattesi in the first match of 2024 at San Siro, three points disputed due to an refereeing episode but also marked by the penalty missed by the gialloblu for the equalizer at the last moment. It seemed like the beginning of the classic phase of decline of Inzaghi's teams in January, but it was only the appetizer of the golden period of Lautaro and his teammates, capable of always winning (triumph in the Italian Super Cup included) from 6 January against Verona until March 17, held by Napoli to a draw at San Siro after ten consecutive victories.

This time, compared to 2021/22, having the asterisk in the standings for the match to be recovered against Atalanta (precisely due to commitments in Saudi Arabia for the Super Cup) did not have any negative impacts, on the contrary: the temporary overtaking of Juventus in the standings in fact, he only gave the Nerazzurri further energy, until the direct clash in February. Gatti's decisive own goal in the big match had the effect on the one hand of definitively launching Inter's Italian breakaway and on the other of leading to the collapse of the Bianconeri. Not even the disappointment of the Champions League elimination against Atletico Madrid in the round of 16 he affected Inter's run, even when his legs started to go slower due to the fatigue of many seasonal matches. Until the apotheosis of winning the scudetto in the derby: the most classic icing on the cake of a triumphal ride towards the second star.