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Inter’s 20th Scudetto: Culmination of Simone Inzaghi Mesmerising Reign

With Inter Milan’s 20th Scudetto triumph, Simone Inzaghi stands tall as the mastermind who has elevated the Nerazzurri to the summit of Italian football once again.

For years it was Filippo Inzaghi, Simone’s brother, who dominated the Italian football, basically winning every possible silverware with AC Milan. However, it seems a fascinating role reversal has occurred on the touchline, where Simone Inzaghi is outclassing his brother as a coach. After three seasons at Inter, Simone Inzaghi reached the Calcio summit by guiding the Nerazzurri to their 20th Scudetto. An iconic achievement that earned them the second star above the crest.

Inzaghi’s Success at the Nerazzurri

Under Simone Inzaghi, Inter has taken home a domestic trophy every single season so far. This year’s iconic Scudetto was also the ultimate cherry on top. Nerazzurri is now literally back in the limelight under his management. Fans started to compare him to Jose Mourinho and dream about a long run of success in the years ahead. It shouldn’t get twisted, though. The Special One’s squad was stacked with higher-pedigree players who knew the game’s tricks, as Inzaghi’s Inter is a team that presents a more attacking approach and enjoys dominating football.

Debut Season at Inter

Photo via Inter/Getty Images by Mattia Ozbot

Simone Inzaghi decided not to renew his contract after a successful tenure at Lazio and finally became Inter Milan’s coach with a two-year contract in the summer of 2021. Nerazzurri had a decent summer in the market, signing Hakan Calhanoglu and Edin Dzeko for free. Matteo Darmian and Denzel Dumfries were also bought to strengthen Inter’s flanks. However, Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi left for Chelsea and PSG respectively, with fees of 115 and 60 million euros. Also, Matteo Politano, who didn’t fit into Inzaghi’s 3-5-2 system, joined Napoli.

First half of the season was successful for Simone Inzaghi at Inter. They were the Winter Champions with 14 wins, 4 draws, and only 1 loss. This hadn’t happened in 12 years, and fans hoped the team would defend the Serie A title. Inter enjoyed a run of 9 consecutive wins from late November to January, including a 3-0 victory over AS Roma. They also had the league’s best attack.

Nerazzuri also experienced a better journey in the UCL than the prior one. They reached the knockout stages as the second team after Real Madrid. They won the Supercoppa Italiana against Juventus on January 12, 2022, with a 2-1 victory in extra time, thanks to Alexis Sanchez’s goal in the 120th minute. It was Simone Inzaghi’s first trophy with the Nerazzurri, and everything seemed to be going well.

However, one thing to note in the first half of that season was Inter’s below-par performances and results in big games. They drew against Milan, Juventus, and Atalanta at the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium and lost 3-1 to Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico. In Europe, they also lost both of their matches against Los Blancos without scoring a goal. The alarm bells were ringing silently for Simone Inzaghi’s men.

Crisis and Redemption

Photo via Getty Images by Francesco Pecoraro

February and March were the worst months possible for Inter Milan. They first lost their lead in the derby against AC Milan, conceding a goal in the final 3 minutes and losing 2-1. With this loss, Nerazzurri surrendered the top spot in the table to their city rivals. In the next 6 league games, they only managed to win one game against Salernitana, dimming their hopes of retaining the title.

In Europe, they also suffered a late double-goal defeat at home against Liverpool, and Lautaro Martinez’s lone goal in the return leg wasn’t enough to secure advancement. Inter, who were flying high in January, saw everything slip away in just two months. The only silver lining during this time was a win against Roma in the cup and reaching the semi-finals.

However, Simone Inzaghi didn’t want the season to end in absolute failure. Starting from April with a 1-0 victory against Juventus in Turin, the Nerazzurri emerged from the crisis. They won 8 out of their final 9 league games and only lost away to Bologna. However, these good results weren’t enough for the title, and Milan clinched the Serie A championship with 2 more points after eleven years.

But in the Coppa Italia, Inzaghi showed he could secure important victories in big games. The confidence gained from their win at Liverpool helped them. They defeated Milan 3-0 in the semi-final second leg of the cup and won 4-2 against Juventus in the final after extra time, securing Inzaghi’s second trophy with Inter. This victory solidified Inzaghi’s position at Inter, and the season wasn’t considered a failure for them anymore.

2022-2023 Season: The Transition Year

Photo via Getty Images

In the summer of 2022, Inter Milan made some free signings, including Andre Onana and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. They also brought Robin Gosens from Atalanta and Joaquin Correa from Lazio. Romelu Lukaku also returned to Nerazzurri on loan from Chelsea. On the other hand, players like Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sanchez, and Ivan Perisic left the team as free agents. These changes brought Simone Inzaghi closer to his desired formation at Inter.

The first half of the season wasn’t promising for Beneamata. They almost lost all their big games against Milan, Juventus, Lazio, and Roma. Inter Milan ranked fourth in the league with 10 wins in their first 15 games, trailing Napoli by 11 points under.

However, overall, things were much better in Europe. Despite being in the group of death, Inter, after beating Barcelona at home and drawing 3-3 at Camp Nou, advanced to the knockout stages as the second-placed team. They defeated Viktoria Plzen of the Czech Republic in the round of 16 but lost 2-0 to Bayern Munich in both legs.

This season faced a seven-week delay due to the FIFA World Cup, which was held for the first time in winter. Inzaghi entered the break with mixed feelings. On one hand, winning the league seemed out of reach due to the considerable gap with Napoli, but on the other hand, the team had secured advancement from their group for the second consecutive time, showing no signs of recent failures in the UCL.

Ending with a Decent Form

Photo via Reuters by Alberto Lingria

After the World Cup, things didn’t improve for Inter and Simone Inzaghi in the league. Despite defeating Napoli and Milan at the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium, they only managed to secure 2 wins in the 9 games following the Derby della Madonnina, completely ruling them out of the title race. The team ended the season in third place in Serie A with 72 points (12 points less than the previous season).

However, the situation was different in the Champions League. Nerazzurri reached the semi-finals after eliminating Porto and Benfica. Their opponent in this stage was their rival and city neighbour, AC Milan. Inter, who had defeated Milan twice in Serie A and the Supercoppa Italiana in 2023, continued their streak of victories against their city rivals in Europe. They won the first leg 2-0 and the second leg 1-0, reaching the Champions League final after 13 years.

Inter Milan also reached the final of the Coppa Italia by defeating Juventus in the semi-finals to defend their title against Fiorentina. The Viola took the lead early in the game, but two goals from Lautaro Martinez turned the game around, securing the second consecutive Coppa Italia title for Simone Inzaghi and Inter, giving them a boost of confidence for the UCL final against Manchester City.

UCL Final

Photo via Sport.quotidiano.net

In the UEFA Champions League final, Inter Milan exceeded expectations. They showed a strong defensive performance. Nerazzurri could have scored the opening goal in the second half through Martinez, but the Argentine striker missed the opportunity. Moments later, Rodri scored the first goal for Manchester City to break their heart.

Inter had good chances late in the game, but luck was not on their side. They lost 1-0 and became the runners-up. However, their strong performance and presence in the European final were signs that Inter Milan could return to their peak with Simone Inzaghi.

Domestic Domination & Inter’s 20th Scudetto

Photo via Nerazzurrisiamonoi.it

In Simone Inzaghi’s third season, Inter had another successful summer. They replaced Andre Onana with Yann Sommer and profited €45 million from this transfer. Players such as Milan Skriniar, Marcelo Brozovic, Edin Dzeko, Robin Gosens, Roberto Gagliardini, and Danilo D’Ambrosio left the team. In return, they acquired Marcus Thuram, Benjamin Pavard, and Davy Klaassen. Additionally, Inter loaned Davide Frattesi, Marco Arnautovic, and Carlos Augusto.

They appeared dominant in Serie A from the outset. They secured 15 wins and 3 draws in the first half of the season, becoming the winter champions. In the fourth match-week, they crushed Milan 5-1 in the Derby della Madonnina. This was the fifth consecutive victory against their city rivals in all competitions and it was unprecedented. Moreover, there were no signs of poor results in big games. Nerazzurri defeated Napoli 3-0 at the San Paolo and also defeated Lazio and Atalanta away from home.

In the second half of the season, they achieved ten consecutive wins. Their victory against Juventus in the Derby d’Italia practically eliminated their longtime rival from the title race, and scoring 4 goals against Roma and Atalanta demonstrated Inter’s dominance in Serie A. Finally, in week 33, Nerazzurri became champions with a 2-1 victory over AC Milan, celebrating in front of their city rivals. With 90 goals scored and 20 conceded, they had the best performance in both aspects, marking their most dominant Serie A title.

UCL & Coppa Italia

In December, Inter suffered a 2-1 defeat at home against Bologna in the Coppa Italia, a strong Serie A team, and was eliminated. This loss, which occurred in extra time, was Simone Inzaghi’s first defeat with Inter in the Coppa Italia. However, they continued their successful run in the Supercoppa Italiana. The tournament was held with 4 teams for the first time. Inter defended their title with wins against Lazio and Napoli, proving themselves as the best team in Italy.

In Europe, Inter secured 3 wins and 3 draws in the group stage and finished second in their group after Real Sociedad. They faced Atletico Madrid in the round of 16. While Nerazzurri won the first leg 1-0, they lost the second leg 2-1, leading to extra time and penalties. Unfortunately, Inter was not fortunate in penalties, and a bitter elimination at the Wanda Metropolitano ended their season in the UEFA Champions League, despite being considered one of the contenders after Manchester City and Real Madrid.

How did Inzaghi’s 3-5-2 Lead Inter to the 20th Scudetto?

Photo via Livescore.com

In recent years, Simone Inzaghi has successfully developed his 3-5-2 tactical approach. Previously, he had a good run with this formation at Lazio, but at Inter Milan, he had better resources and took his style of play to new heights. If we consider Antonio Conte, as the coach who revived this system and made it viable in modern football again, Simone Inzaghi is someone who adapted this system to his football philosophy and elevated it further.

Inzaghi’s 3-5-2 system at Inter is quite flexible. Unlike many other teams using three defenders, Inter is an entirely attacking team. This is evident in how they utilize their wing players. The wing-backs, especially Federico Dimarco on the left side, have a lot of freedom and are not just classic full-backs. They often act more like attacking wingers and have a strong inclination to penetrate through the central attacking zones.

Moreover, Inter has been a team this season that makes subtle but important changes in their tactics in each game, trying to outplay their opponents. While all Italian teams are aware of Inter’s strength, they may not know where Inter’s focus lies at different moments in the game. Inzaghi pays close attention to both team formation and player roles, following a specific plan in each match.

Team Analysis

Photo via Getty Images

Marcus Thuram has been the perfect partner for Lautaro Martinez in the attacking line this season. Both players have high qualities on the ball, create opportunities, and excel in scoring goals. Martinez has been particularly outstanding this season and is expected to secure the Serie A top scorer and possibly be named the best player of the season. Additionally, players like Arnautovic and Sanchez have effectively played their roles as reserve forwards.

In midfield, Hakan Calhanoglu is the team’s playmaker, often dropping back from the attack to start build-up from the back. Inzaghi, known for getting the best out of his players, has turned him into one of the best in the world. Nicolò Barella plays the versatile role of a joker in defence and attack, always in the right place at the right time. Henrikh Mkhitaryan also has a high level of freedom and has scored crucial goals this season. Meanwhile, Davide Frattesi has often been a reliable backup for Inter.

In defence, Inter has Alessandro Bastoni, one of the best Italian defenders in recent years, who became a credible asset during Antonio Conte’s tenure at the club. He usually plays as a left-sided central defender, while Benjamin Pavard plays as a right-sided counterpart. Stefan de Vrij or Francesco Acerbi typically play as central defenders. Inzaghi has effectively used a rotational system in defence, and substitute players have played their roles in the team’s success. Moreover, with a goalkeeper like Yann Sommer, Inter has become the best team in Italy in terms of defence.

It remains to be seen whether Simone Inzaghi can extend Inter’s domestic domination in the next season. On the one hand, they make their fans fantasize about a glorious run of years ahead; on the other hand, Juventus, Milan, and Napoli will all be hungry for the upcoming Serie A season.

Alex Lundy
Alex Lundy
A lifelong football fan, Alex loves to dabble in its history, especially FIFA World Cup. But his love for sports doesn't end at football since he loves watching NBA and Formula1 too. Reading novels and watching classic films takes the rest of his time.
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