Two of the best playing squads this season collided last weekend. Electrifying, exhilarating, enthralling football was put on display in front a roaring Juventus stadium. For one lineup, it was about continuing their perpetual dominance, and stamping their authority on a team they consider beneath them. For the other, it was to make a point, act in defiance with virtuosity and flare, fight tooth and nail, and prove to the world their rebirth as a European elite. It wasn’t David against Goliath. It wasn’t Michelangelo loathing Da Vinci. Nor was it Captain Morgan taking down Don Alonzo’s flotilla… This was Inter Milan vs. Juventus – The most celebrated and glorious of rivalries in Italy.
While the fixture had its usual ferocity, and the competition delivered on its promise, for some of the Inter fans, per the typical social media outlets at least, it still left something to wonder – When the glory days of the 1960s & 2000s will come back again. Can the tenacity of the 60s make a comeback? Was the Mourinho era just a romantic fling with success?
So here’s my response to the doubters;
Losing a winning streak is not ideal and only a mere blip in a team’s trajectory. And don’t ignore progress and stability when it’s so visibly seeping in. Unity and efficiency is illustrated throughout the squad. From the towering Handanovic to the imposing captain, Icardi, and everyone in between. Pioli re-announced himself, even last Sunday, despite the bitter defeat at the hands of Juventus, instilling confidence and fight in his team. Rumors or not, inadvertently or not, the owners are making statements by having big names like Peter Kenyon and Sergio Aguero associated with the club in the near future, and some are even beginning to dream again. The juggernaut that WAS Inter is beginning to show signs of its forgotten capability. But in today’s impatient and whimsical world, who has the time to endure an evolution. While the signs of advancement are evident in Pioli’s squad and tactics, there will be no such thing as the “luxury of time.” He won’t get the “let’s persevere with Van Gaal, he’s a mastermind” treatment nor the “he’s Mourinho, he’s always got a trick up his sleeve!” red carpet roll out. The ideal of longevity gets closer every day to marrying regular triumph. The formation iterations, the coaching gaffes, and the hasty trading has concluded.
While Juventus got their well fought victory against Inter, the Nerazurri, defeated and dejected, left Torino to pick themselves up against Empoli without Icardi and Perisic. Pioli’s squad picks underlined the investment of depth. Pinamonti made his debut, Gagliardini showcased his talent, and Eder & Candreva delivered on their promise. Okay – Empoli languishes in 17th place but what an expression of confidence from what was, the last couple of seasons, a nervous and panicky Inter, to say the least.
The great Moratti era may be missed by the nostalgic. Il Puppi’s dazzling runs may never be replicated and maybe we’ll never see Herrera’s Catanaccio again but just like every empire has its time in glory, it eventually falls. Remember, Inter fell from its perch amid confusion, disruption, change, and a lack of collective confidence. And bravo to Juventus for their remarkable consistency and bravo to their success. But let’s not forget the ebb and flow of Serie A. And let’s not overlook that Juventus is, right now, just an empire. One surrounded by a growing number of diminutive and efficient armies, and one re-emerging from its recent slumber. One poised to surpass expectations. One setting up with intent to confirm its rightful place. One we love, and one we bleed blue and black for.