Saturday, February 24

Inter Milan rally around Simone Inzaghi in scrappy win over Barcelona to stay alive in Champions League play

FC Internazionale vs FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League
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MILAN — Inter Milan fans bracing for the worst were pleasantly surprised when their side managed to eke out a 1-0 win over Barcelona at San Siro on Tuesday to put them in contention for a UEFA Champions League knockout stage spot. At the midway point of the group stage with three matches remaining and six points in the bag, the Nerazzurri will need to focus on the rest of the European campaign as a result of their poor start to start the Serie A season. With only 12 points after eight games and 13 goals conceded, Inter are currently ninth in the Italian league table, eight points behind leaders Napoli and Atalanta.

The Champions League is the only saving grace for Inzaghi at the moment as his seat continues to heat up, otherwise it’s increasingly likely that Inter Milan will opt to change the current coach. Next week’s UCL game at the Camp Nou against FC Barcelona (Paramount+) will probably tell us much more about their chances of reaching the next round in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2011-12.

Inter showed strength

Inzaghi’s squad needed this kind of performance to show that they are still alive and motivated by their manager. Winning at home against Xavi’s side will give some extra motivation and good spirit ahead of Saturday’s match against Sassuolo (9 am ET | Paramount+) and next week’s game against Barcelona away — the biggest match of their Champions League campaign. Finally, key players such as Nicolò Barella and Hakan Calhanoglu (apart from the winning goal) showed the right character that had gone missing in the past weeks. Additionally, Milan Skriniar was outstanding after a very difficult start of the season, where his performances were probably affected by the PSG transfer rumors in the summer. All in all, Inter Milan desperately needed this win to buy more time and they will need to continue to show the same character in the domestic league to gain points in the coming games.

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Inzaghi is safe… for now

A loss on Tuesday could have determined the fate of the Inzaghi era at Inter, but it didn’t. The manager now will have more time to solidify his job security in the coming weeks with the same desperate need to win matches in the Serie A. Inter Milan are not sure yet to go through the Champions League group stage, but considering how difficult the opponents were (Barcelona, ​​Bayern Munich and Viktoria Plzen), they are now positioned quite well with six points after three games (Bayern have nine, Barcelona have three).

For the third time in a row, Andre Onana was the starting goalkeeper in the European competition and captain Samir Handanovic was benched again. Despite all the criticism around Handanovic after poor performances, Inzaghi always preferred him over Onana in the league, but it’s now probably the right time to make Onana the starting goalkeeper in all the competitions. Inzaghi is now called to make a decision that might create some tension in the dressing room. But that’s what good managers do in order to pull together results in times of turmoil.

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