It takes a lot more than just goals and excellent performances on the field to end a reign that has been predominant for eleven years now. It needs a heart that has never known fear, it needs a mettle of steel and it needs the spirit of the champions. Internazionale, better known as Inter Milan challenged an enduring legacy of eleven long years and ended Ronaldo and The Old Lady’s reign in Italy with four matches to spare.
A team that exuded brilliance at their peak, displayed godly valour and remained unbeaten since February reaped handsome dividends as it came in the form of the Scudetto, defying the likes of mighty Juventus.
This eleven-year of dominance that Juventus had disseminated over Italy was kick-started by Antonio Conte himself, who is at the helm of affairs at Inter currently, the man who finished the streak for them too.
Inter came within touching distance of the hallowed Scudetto when they registered a 2-0 victory over Crotone on Saturday and their crown was cemented as a technically undercooked Sassuolo managed to eke out a hard-fought draw against their closest pursuers, Atalanta. This stalemate crafted an unassailable lead of 13 points that rendered Inter champions after 11 years of endless disappointment.
The triumph over the rest of Italy didn’t really arrive in a heartbeat or a flash. Inter came second in the preceding edition of the tournament as they saw the Bianconeri edging past them by a solitary point. Cristiano Ronaldo was altogether in a different league in the preceding season. Coming so close to the title and yet missing it by whiskers, Conte must have already vowed vengeance against their superior opposition in white and black at that very moment.
However, this championship notched up by Inter was not a dream or a fluke. It took them time, persistence, belief and most importantly a few factors that left Ronaldo and company staring at a performance so spectacular that it may signify the change of tide in Italian football if Juventus fails to plug the significant potholes in the forthcoming season.
We will take a look at a few factors that determined the path to glory for an ambitious Conte-led Internazionale, leaving behind a lot of big names in Italy.
#1 Antonio Conte
The Italian football manager suffered quite a chaos in his stint with Chelsea for adhering to a consistent bunch of names who weren’t really extraordinary but he was trying to build an empire at Stamford Bridge. When he arrived at Inter, he was given complete freedom to hone the team into a successful unit and reinstate the wolfish voracity for victory into a side that didn’t boast of brilliant monikers and roving the fringes of mediocrity.
Slowly with time, he inculcated a system of consistency within the team that only saw shuffling in the position of the left wing-back and any one of the central midfielders. Conte managed to strike a particularly fruitful partnership at the back that saw the perfect convergence of Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni. The trio’s towering ubiquity in the defensive bulwark only leaked 29 goals from 34 games which is a captivating record for any big football team across the face of the planet.
With all said and done, the duo that reaped gold for Conte was the eminent synergy of Romelu Lukaku and the argentine sensation, Lautaro Martinez. Dotingly known as “LuLa”, the duo plundered a staggering 36 goals between them that left the rearguards of the other teams threatened. Despite the presence of a moniker in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo in Juventus, the perfect combination f attack and defence flipped the tide in Inter’s favour.
This consistent residence of the majority of the players in the starting eleven honed them into an exceptionally strong unit, thereby engineering the path of ingenuity for Antonio Conte to formulate his astonishing stratagems, catapulting the Nerazzurri to the front of the pack.
# Straight road to heaven
At times your moment of fall turns into your biggest strength and that was exactly the case with Inter. Their inopportune exit from the UEFA Champions League left them headed in a pretty much single-dimensional road, blindsided from any kinds of other distractions. Without the headache of European glory in sight, the road for Conte had only one laurel dangling at the end and that was the Serie A.
As the team didn’t have much traveling to do throughout the second half of the season, they had ample time to prepare ahead of each game, thereby helping Conte to hatch ploys without any kinds of diversions. Given the genius that Conte already is, the time came as a boon for the big man and Inter tasted their last defeat in January.
During Christmas, the team that held the best resolve to be the likeliest contenders for the championship was AC Milan as Stefan Pioli and his wards were at their scintillating best. However, a sudden dip in form transfigured into a bumpy slide that slipping from the title contention to a vortex of entropy as they are now indulged in a fierce fight for a berth in the top-flight European extravaganza.
# The Lu-La partnership overshadowed the brilliance of Ronaldo
Serie A has always remained witness to some classical defending that featured iconic names like Paolo Maldini, Georgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli, Franco Baresi, Nesta, Cannavaro and the list goes on and on. However, in a league of such extraordinary defenders, the establishment of a good striking pair has been a black-swan event.
With the heralded arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, it was believed that new records will be penned in Italy in terms of attacking flair. Though there were insane strikes from the Portuguese sensation, the regularity that is expected to keep a team going to the very front of the pack was hard to come by.
Inter, on the contrary, drew severe flak when they onboarded the likes of Romelu Lukaku who struggled vehemently at Manchester United. However, the presence of Lautaro Martinez was exceptionally inspiring and the Nerazzuri was already working with the beast from Belgium to get his priorities sorted. Despite Ronaldo being the highlights of the attacking units of Italy, it was this pair that shared 36 goals between them.
The duo’s confident and charismatic run started hurting the other clubs ever since their inception and this year was like a pivotal point for the Blues Lukaku transcended himself to a different level altogether that saw him stringing those wondrous assists and brilliant finishes. It was this very duo that stayed at the heart of Inter’s remarkable triumph over Atalanta, Juventus and AC Milan.