It’s been a long time out in the wilderness, but Inter Milan is riding high at the top of Serie A after going undefeated in its first five matches. It’s not been pretty, it’s not been dynamic, but then Inter has never really been that kind of team.
Even Jose Mourinho’s historic treble-winning Inter side in 2010 specialized mainly in cautious, 1-0 victories. At the time, Mourinho was managing a team that had largely been built by Roberto Mancini. So it’s little coincidence that having been reinstated as Inter manager, Mancini is back to grinding out results with little regard for flair or style.
But that should not detract from the job Mancini has done since taking up his second spell in charge at the Giuseppe Meazza. The former Manchester City boss, who took over part of the way through last season, signed 10 players this summer after moving on a number of high profile flops; including Xherdan Shaqiri, Lukas Podolski, and Hernanes.
Among others, Mancini has brought in Stevan Jovetic from his former club Man City, Adam Ljajic on loan from Roma, and Felipe Melo from Galatasaray. Also significant are the players Mancini has managed to keep at Inter. Despite interest from a number of top European teams, both Mauro Icardi and Fredy Guarin remain at the club.
But it’s the defense that’s winning games. In five matches, Inter has scored six goals and allowed just one. The rotation of Davide Santon, Juan Jesus, Miranda, Gary Medel, Jeisen Murillo and Alex Telles has proved the most formidable defense in Serie A this season.
Mancini’s style might not win many plaudits for its attacking verve, especially when you consider that as a player he was a striker. But even with a backline of mostly injured and rotated players, Inter was still able to hold Hellas Verona scoreless on Wednesday.
This is the first time since the 1966-67 campaign that Inter has gone undefeated in its first five matches. (Although Juventus went on to win the Scudetto that season.)
But without the distraction of European competition, Inter can bring its full might to bear on Serie A. And while Mancini’s team is only three points clear at the top, it is definitely in the driver’s seat at the moment.
This high-flying Inter side faces perhaps the biggest test yet to its title credentials when it welcomes second-place Fiorentina to the Giuseppe Meazza on Sunday. That match will carry the added spice of pitting current top scorer Jovetic against his former side.
Catch Internazionale Milano vs. Fiorentina at 2:40pm ET Sunday on beINSports.