Inter 0-1 Frankfurt (0-1 Agg): Report & Reaction as Jovic Knocks Nerazzurri Out of Europa League

Inter have been knocked out of the Europa League following a 1-0 home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday night, with Luka Jovic’s goal settling the tie.

Following a draw in the first leg, this game sprung into life instantly as it was clear that Eintracht were not going to sit there and let Inter play, they were going to attack. And attack they did. 

It wasn’t long before this reaped rewards as Jovic broke away from a despairing Stefan de Vrij, then deftly chipped the ball over Samir Handanovic into the Inter net. The Nerazzurri struggled to contain Frankfurt’s lively attacking player and were caught a number of times.

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As the first half went on, Inter began to dictate the play and tried to put the Frankfurt defence under some pressure, but their final balls were easy for Christian Peintinger’s side to deal with. 

Handanovic kept the score within Inter’s reach with some fine saves, which meant Inter reached half-time needing two goals in the second half to progress. 

The game became more open and end to end as Inter looked for two goals and Die Adler chased an all important second away goal, but on this occasion it was Frankfurt who progressed to the quarter-finals. 

Here’s 90min’s breakdown of the game.


Inter

Key Talking Point

It was clear early on that Frankfurt were looking to hit Inter on the counter and attack with pace. They scored the opening goal this way and it looked to cause Inter’s defence numerous problems in the opening 20 minutes. 

If it wasn’t for their goalkeeper and captain Samir Handanovic, Inter could have been looking at an embarrassing scoreline in the opening quarter of this match. It was one of Handanovic’s saves that stood out and stopped the game being put out of the Nerazzurri’s reach.

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Inter were caught in possession and Frankfurt broke at speed and had a favourable three on two situation, which looked likely to result in a second away goal for the German side. Handanovic however, had other ideas and pulled off a fantastic save that allowed his defenders to clear their lines of the threat.

If Handanovic had been beaten, when a few of his defenders had been, Inter would have been dead and buried. Instead, it meant they had a chance to progress to the next stage and try to keep their Europa League dream alive. 


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Handanovic (8); Soares (5), Skriniar (7), De Vrij (6), D’Ambrosio (6); Vecino (6), Valero (6), Perisic (6), Politano (6), Candreva (7); Balde (5)

Substitutions: Ranocchia (6), Esposito (6), Merola (5)


Star Man

Handanovic made a brilliant early save in the opening minutes, with luck going his way as the follow-up shot hit the crossbar. 

He could have done more for Jovic’s strike but the experienced Slovenian will feel that centre-half Stefan de Vrij should have dealt with the young Serbian better, rather than being out-muscled off of the ball. 

Luka Jovic,Samir Handanovic

He again came to Inter’s rescue just before the 40 minute mark, as a quick Frankfurt counter left the home side’s defence scrambling to get back and it was the 34-year-old who provided the crucial block to stop the German side getting that all important second away goal. He delivered the goods yet again in injury time to deny both Jovic and Filip Kostic, keeping his side’s slim chances of qualification alive.

Handanovic was recently handed the captain’s armband by Luciano Spalletti and this was a captain’s performance, inspirational and calm under pressure. Inter will need that if they are to finish the season in a Champions League qualification spot.


Eintracht Frankfurt

Key Talking Point

Much has been made of Eintracht Frankfurt’s attacking style of football and it was clear from the first whistle that Frankfurt were looking to put Inter under pressure from the first kick of the ball.

They harassed the Italian side, giving them little time to settle and when they did win the ball back, they looked to move it up the field quickly and with precision. 

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Then, in the sixth minute, Jovic put Inter centre-back Stefan de Vrij under pressure causing the Dutchman to slip and allow the Serbian time to weigh up his options as Handanovic quickly came out of his goal in an attempt to put off the young striker.

Yet those who have been watching the Bundesliga this season will know that Jovic has an eye for goal and will have known exactly what he wanted to do in that moment. He simply chipped the ball over the despairing Inter keeper and watched the ball bounce into the net, giving Frankfurt an important away goal. 


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Trapp (7), Da Costa (7), Hinteregger (6), Hasebe (6), N’Dicka (6), Kostic (7); Willems (9)*, Rode (8), Gacinovic (7); Jovic (8), Haller (7)

Substitutions: De Guzman (6), Stendera (6), Paciencia (6)


Star Man

Dutchman Jetro Willems was deployed in Frankfurt’s midfield rather than in his more customary left-back role. It has to be said that he did not look out of place playing in the holding midfield role for the German side.

He expertly broke up the play, putting in some important tackles at times when Inter were starting to look dangerous. His performance is typified by the fact it took the Nerazzurri 65 minutes to register a shot on target. Willems just wouldn’t let them through. 

Antonio Candreva,Jetro Willems

Not only did he stop attacks, but he started them too. When he won the ball back in the middle of the park, the 24-year-old looked to unleash the attacking power of his teammates and catch the Inter defence sleeping. On numerous occasions he fed balls to Jovic and Frankfurt’s other attacking players, causing Inter’s defence countless problems. It must have been a relief to the Nerazzurri when he was replaced in the 73rd minute.

Such was the quality of his performance, manager Christian Peintinger may be thinking about deploying Willems in midfield more often. 


Looking Ahead

​Inter go up against bitter city rivals Milan at the weekend, with third place up for grabs for the winner. Luciano Spalletti will be hoping to secure Champions League football next season, and to do that his side will have to do better than they did against Frankfurt. To add more to the affair, Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso has avoided a ban in the derby – so expect some fireworks.

Eintracht Frankfurt face bottom club Nurnberg in their next Bundesliga game. They will be looking to add to their already impressive goal tally and get the win as they too chase down a Champions League qualification place.

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Luciano Spalletti Bemoans ‘Naive’ Performance After Inter Crash to Europa League Exit

​Inter boss Luciano Spalletti was critical of his side following their second leg home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League on Thursday night.

The Nerazzurri were strong favourites heading into the second leg at San Siro, but a dismal showing allowed the visitors to snatch a 1-0 victory on the night, thanks to Luka Jovic’s early goal.

Luciano Spalletti

Spalletti was understandably furious after the game, telling Sky Italy (via Football Italia) that his team’s inabilities to control their frustrations played a huge part in the defeat.

“We lacked a bit of everything,” Spalletti began. “We lost balance immediately and made some naïve mistakes for the opener, then got irritable and lost even more balance. It became a very difficult game.

The early goal just cranked up the tension and made us feel as if there was no chance. We lost it straight away.”

​Inter were missing 12 senior outfield players and Spalletti felt that this affected the teams performance as he had to choose players who were not ready for the game – either because they were too young or hadn’t played much football recently. He did, however, feel that the game was there for the taking.

He added: “We just couldn’t keep the ball. I chose Keita and he hadn’t played for a while, so was lacking match fitness and that determination you need. I took that risk.”

The 0-0 from the first leg allowed us to reach the final 15 minutes and see what happens. We had plenty of time to deal with the situation intelligently. Instead, we were immediately frenetic and chaotic, trying to force the ball through with individual moves rather than as a team.”

Keita Balde,Martin Hinteregger

Looking ahead to the crucial Milan derby at the weekend, Spalletti is hoping his players can learn from this experience and put in a good performance against their rivals: “We certainly need to do better than we did tonight. We need more confidence. We’ll look back over this match and recognise we didn’t read it the right way. We have to work hard in days to come.”

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Mauro Icardi ‘Expects’ Juventus or Real Madrid Move as Inter Exit Draws Closer

​Inter striker Mauro Icardi seems increasingly more likely to leave the club with every passing week, and the latest reports from Argentina claim that he will indeed leave the Nerazzuri in the summer, for either Juventus or Real Madrid. 

The former captain has longstanding issues with the club, and was stripped of the captaincy back in February, coinciding with a prolonged spell on the sidelines with a knee injury which is likely to keep him out until April. 

Mauro Icardi

Many speculate that he may have played his last match for the ​Serie A side, including Argentine news outlet TyC Sports (via ​FC Inter News) who report that the relationship between ​Inter and Icardi is ‘irreparable.’

Sourcing an unnamed member of the player’s entourage, they expect him to move to one of ​Real or ​Juventus, citing his ambition to play for one of the best club’s in the world. 

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It’s thought that the 26-year-old’s family favour a move to Turin, due to the close proximity to their current home in MIlan, and while there are no reports of a move actually being on the cards just yet, it would come as no surprise to see the runaway Serie A leaders add one of the division’s hottest talents to their ranks. 

Seeming a bit more likely, however, is a move to Real, with the report claiming a move to Spain to work under Zinedine Zidane is more in line with his personal ambitions.

The Galacticos, back under the tutelage of Zinedine Zidane, are reported to have ​already made contact with Icardi as they look for a new goalscorer, with their failure to adequately replace Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer partially contributing to their downfall this season. 

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They sit third in La Liga with no other hopes of silverware, having crashed out of the Champions League to Ajax, and some expect Icardi to be the first arrival in a squad overhaul. 

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Real Madrid ‘Initiate Contact’ With Inter Ahead of Summer Swoop for Outcast Striker Mauro Icardi

​Real Madrid are believed to have made contact with Inter over the possibility of signing their star striker Mauro Icardi in the summer.

The Argentina international hasn’t featured for the Serie A giants since early February, after being stripped of the captaincy and falling out with the club’s hierarchy after talks over a contract extension broke down. The player now looks highly likely to leave the club this summer, and a host of elite European sides will be poised to land the ruthless finisher.

Mauro Emanuel Icardi

According to Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo, ​Los Blancos’ new manager Zinedine Zidane has made signing a top quality striker his priority when the next transfer window opens, and has ensured that club president Florentino Pérez has their interest clear to I​ ​Nerazzurri. It is unclear how much ​Ic​ardi is likely to cost, but the figure could well exceed €100m.

​Napoli and ​Juventus are also rumoured to be keen on signing the 26-year-old, but a move to the Bernabéu is likely to be a more alluring prospect. 

Icardi has shone in ​Serie A for almost his entire career – excelling during spells with Sampdoria and Inter. The clinical forward has netted 108 goals in the Italian top tier, and could well be ready for a new challenge with Los Blancos.

However, the player’s wife and agent Wanda Nara has recently claimed that her husband wants to stay at Inter, and has reassured fans over his future in Milan. Perhaps then, the increased speculation over Icardi’s future has been used as a tool to secure him a more lucrative contract at the club, although the players’ declining relationship with the fans could be beyond repair.

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Meanwhile, Inter will look to progress to the quarter-finals of the Europa League on Thursday evening, when ​they face Eintracht Frankfurt in the second league of their last 16 tie. Luciano Spalletti’s side came away from the Commerzbank Arena with a goalless draw last week, and will be hopeful of progressing with a win at the cavernous San Siro.

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Inter vs Eintracht Frankfurt: Luciano Spalletti’s Best Available Nerazzurri Lineup

Inter will be desperate to qualify for the Europa League quarter finals on Thursday as they host Eintracht Frankfurt in the second leg of their round of 16 clash.

The tie is finely poised after a 0-0 draw at the Commerzbank-Arena last week, a game in which Marcelo Brozovic had a first half penalty agonisingly saved to prevent Luciano Spalletti’s side taking a strong advantage back to San Siro.

The Italian manager has some unfortunate injuries to contend with ahead of the showdown, so will need to shuffle his pack accordingly to obtain a positive result.

Here’s how Inter could lineup to face Frankfurt on Thursday.

1. Goalkeeper & Defenders

Cedric Soares

Samir Handanovic (GK) – The Slovenian took over captaincy after Mauro Icardi was stripped of the role in mid-February and has been an ever present in Serie A this season.

Cedric Soares (RB) – Has made the right back slot his own following his loan move from Southampton. The Portuguese star possesses great energy up both aid in attack and perform his defensive responsibilities effectively.

Stefan de Vrij (CB) – The Dutchman is one of the finest defenders in Italy at the moment and has been the rock in a solid Inter backline in his debut season for the club.

 
Milan Skriniar (CB) – Has forged a fine partnership with de Vrij in the heart of the defence and will have his work cut out to keep Sebastien Haller and Luka Jovic at bay on Thursday.

Kwadwo Asamoah (LB) – Boasts great pace and crossing ability which will be crucial in the clash, and he will look to use that to exploit Eintracht Frankfurt’s use of a three-man defence.

2. Midfielders

Ivan Perisic,Marcelo Brozovic

Matias Vecino (CM) – Will come back into midfield in place of Roberto Gagliardini after missing the weekend’s victory over SPAL through suspension.

Marcelo Brozovic (CM) – Missed a crucial penalty in the first leg that would have given his side a strong advantage ahead of Thursday’s match, so will be eager to make amends against the German side.

Matteo Politano (RW) – His excellent pace will cause problems for Eintracht, and the winger will be full of confidence following his goal on the weekend.

Ivan Perisic (LW) – The Croatian should have recovered in time from fatigue for the game at San Siro to start after missing the SPAL match, as Perisic’s quality is unquestionable and will be key to unpicking the Eintracht defence.

Joao Mario (CAM) – Will slot into the attacking midfielder role in place of the injured Radja Nainggolan as the former West Ham man will be tasked with being the driving force in central midfield for Spalletti’s side.

3. Forwards

Lautaro Martinez

Lautaro Martinez (ST) – Hasn’t enjoyed the prolific goal scoring season he would have liked, with only five goals in 19 matches, but will be called upon the lead the line in place of Icardi. Martinez certainly has the pace and power to trouble defences, but a lack of end product this season has hindered the 21-year-old.

The Argentine has got very big boots to fill following Icardi’s very public fallout with the club. His goal record isn’t going to cut it if he wants to be considered a long term option for Inter, but the young striker does have plenty of potential, with pace and strength in abundance.

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Alexis Sanchez: 7 Possible Loan Destinations for the Manchester United Forward This Summer

It’s fair to say it has been anything but smooth sailing for Alexis Sanchez since he finalised his move away from Arsenal to join Manchester United just over a year ago. The Chilean has been plagued with injuries but primarily affected by severe lack of form, totalling mirroring the sublime displays he put in for the Gunners that prompted a European bidding war for the former Barcelona man.

Since being part of the swap deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan move the other way midway through last season, Sanchez has accrued only five goals in 41 appearances across all competitions. Such a poor return for a player once billed among the best in Europe has prompted talk of a summer exit from Old Trafford, with a number of candidates surely willing to take a punt.

While a permanent switch is surely out of the question – mostly due to the Chilean’s astronomical near 400k-a-week wages – a loan deal would more likely satisfy all parties involved, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the United faithful would be keen to see a return on their once highly rated star.

As a result, here are seven potential destinations for Sanchez to move to this summer.


Inter

Dejan Stankovic,Alexis Alejandro Sanchez

Inter are a club aiming to become one of the biggest in Europe once again, having found themselves falling behind Serie A big boys Juventus and Napoli in recent years. Such a rebuilding process started in the summer when they invested heavily in the likes of Radja Nainggolan, Steven de Vrij, Sime Vrsaljko, Lautaro Martinez, Keita Balde Diao, and Kwadwo Asamoah.

Notably, the future of star winger Ivan Perisic continues to be up in the air and Sanchez could fit the bill replace the Croatian. Sanchez previously has Serie A experience, having turned out for Udinese for three seasons before his move to Barcelona.

In a list of fairly unlikely escape routes, this one has the air of possibility surrounding it.

Possibility Ranking: 5/10


Monaco

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Granted it will be a step down for the man dubbed ‘the squirrel’ during his younger days, he certainly shouldn’t have any issues stepping straight into the first team in south France.

The former Ligue 1 champions have endured a challenging season thus far, sacking manager Leonardo Jardim and replacing him with Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, only to go and, well, sack him and replace him with Jardim…again.

Should the French club stay up this season then a huge restructuring of the squad would be in order to return them to their former glory, however, would that be with Sanchez? It’s highly doubtful.

Possibility Ranking: 2/10


Bayern Munich

Alexis Sanchez,Rafinha

Oh how delightful it would be to be on the right side of a 10-2 aggregate humiliation in the Champions League…

It may well come to fruition for Sanchez, who will remember Bayern very vividly having been sent to the cleaners by the German side during his time at Arsenal. It’s no secret that Niko Kovac’s side are in need of wingers, with duo Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben set to call time on their spells in Bavaria at the end of the season.

It’s a destination that would surely suit the Chilean, with Die Roten challenging on all fronts, not to mention Munich having the rather lovely English Gardens where he could take his pooches for a stroll. There is even the chance that, should Arsenal sneak top four, he could (would) be drawn against his former employers, as is apparent Champions League tradition.

Possibility Ranking: 3/10


Real Madrid

Raphael Varane,Marcelo,Alexis Sanchez

The (not so new) man has come in and supposedly been granted a £300m war chest to go on a summer splurge with at the end of the season. With that in mind, Zinedine Zidane would surely love to have a fit and firing Sanchez in his side, not mainly due to the vast number of misfiring stars he has (re) inherited.

Certainly, there will a grudge amongst Real Madrid supporters given that Sanchez played for arch rivals Barcelona for three years, however, with all in white firmly aboard the ‘Gareth Bale out train’ then Sanchez could definitely fit the bill as an potential replacement. Furthermore, the money Zidane reportedly has in question could even tempt United into a permanent deal.

Possibility Ranking: 4/10


Juventus

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Despite appearing to be having something of a minor Ashley Cole moment in the picture above, Sanchez did indeed start the match in which United pulled off a shock 2-1 victory at the Allianz Stadium.

That result in Italy was one of the few highlights of Sanchez’s season to date, however, could Juventus be interested in bringing the Chilean to Turin to replace to potential departure of Douglas Costa? The Old Lady have a wealth of talent as they are and it seems vastly unlikely they could be set to make a move for the 30-year-old. But, hey, you never know.

Possibility Ranking: 2/10


Arsenal 

Alexis Sanchez

A summer transfer budget of only £40m to spend? Eager to make shrewd signings that people didn’t think of? In need of wide players?

No. Stop it. 

No.

That bridge was scorched to pieces and buried deep under ground some time ago. Ask an Arsenal fan, the fractured relationship he finished up with the supporters is a scar no amount of time or strong liquor will heal.

Possibility Ranking: 0/10


Udinese

Antonio Di Natale

Sanchez made the switch to Udinese from River Plate in 2008 and spent three seasons in Serie A with the club, scoring 12 goals in his final season to prompt Barcelona to part with €26m in 2011.

Football fans around the globe drooled over his partnership with the legendary Antonio Di Natale in the 2010/11 season. That campaign, they tallied 39 goals between them, just two shy of the 2007/08 season record held by the David Trezeguet and Alessandro Del Piero combination at Juventus.

It would prove a fairytale move should Udinese bring their man back, while in equally likely circumstances Di Natale could come out of retirement and the pair could reenact a Men in Black (and white) moment one last time.

Possibility Ranking: -1/10


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Inter vs Eintracht Frankfurt: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time, Team News & More

Inter host Eintracht Frankfurt in their Europa League round of 16 second leg on Thursday, with the tie finely poised following a 0-0 stalemate at the Commerzbank Arena.

Both sides recorded domestic wins in their games following the first leg, but will have their attentions firmly towards qualification to the next round with the Europa League both club’s best chance of silverware this term.

Inter secured a routine 2-0 home win over SPAL in Serie A, while Eintracht ran out comfortable 3-0 winners of Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Bundesliga. Luciano Spalletti’s side will boast the advantage of playing on home soil, but Eintracht have enjoyed a great season in Germany and will be looking to upset the odds.

Read 90min’s preview of Thursday’s match below.


Where to Watch

When Is Kick Off? Thursday 14 March
What Time Is Kick Off? 20:00 (GMT)
Where Is it Played? San Siro
TV Channel/Stream? BT Sport ESPN
Referee? Ovidiu Alin Hațegan

Team News

With controversial striker Mauro Icardi still nursing a knee injury it seems likely Lautaro Martinez will once again lead the line for Spalletti’s side on Thursday. 

Radja Nainggolan remains sidelined for Inter after suffering an injury in training last week while Matias Vecino returns from a suspension the midfielder served on the weekend. Croatian World Cup finalist Sime Vrsaljiko is still missing for the foreseeable future after having had knee surgery.

Radja Nainggolan

The biggest loss to Die Adler is regarding Ante Rebic, with the Croatian unlikely to return from a knee problem to feature. Other absentees for Adi Hutter are defensive duo Timothy Chandler and David Abraham, who are both out with muscular problems, while midfielder Lucas Torro hasn’t featured since November due to an abductor tear.


Predicted Lineups

Inter Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, De Vrij, Skriniar, Dalbert; Gagliardini, Brozovic; Politano, Joao Mario, Candreva; Lautaro Martinez.
Eintracht Trapp; Hinteregger, Hasebe, Toure, Fernandes, Rode, De Guzman, Kostic, Da Costa, Paciencia, Jovic.

Head to Head Record

Last weeks meeting between the sides was in fact the first ever competitive meeting between the clubs. It was a nervy affair when these two locked horns last week, however, I Nerazzurri should have taken a lead into Thursday’s leg at the San Siro but Martinez was unable to convert his first half penalty as the clash ended goalless.

Eintracht Frankfurt v FC Internazionale - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: First Leg

Inter’s previous 47 meetings with German opposition have wielded 22 wins, while Eintracht boast ten wins from their 18 matches against Italian sides.


Recent Form

Inter will have been pleased to return to winning ways with their 2-0 win over SPAL on Sunday, after their draw with Frankfurt was preceded by a disappointing loss to Cagliari in Serie A.

The club’s indifferent form throughout the season has seen them occupy fourth in the league, with hopes of earning a Champions League place next season firmly in the balance.

Eintracht will head into the game full of confidence having stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to 11 matches. Their 3-0 win over Fortuna on Monday was their fifth of that run, as the club sit fifth in the Bundesliga table.

Here is how each team has performed in their last five matches:

Inter Eintracht Frankfurt
Inter 2-0 SPAL (10/3) Fortuna 0-3 Frankfurt (11/3)
Frankfurt 0-0 Inter (7/3) Frankfurt 0-0 Inter (7/3)
Cagliari 2-1 Inter (1/3) Frankfurt 3-2 Hoffenheim (2/3)
Fiorentina 3-3 Inter (24/2) Hannover 96 0-3 Frankfurt (24/2)
Inter 4-0 Rapid Wienna (21/2) Frankfurt 4-1 Shakhtar Donetsk (21/02)

Prediction

Thursday’s clash will be a tough one to call with both sides suffering with injuries to key players ahead of the San Siro showdown. Inter’s performance in the first leg will have given them confidence, despite Martinez’s missed penalty, and are well aware of the expectations of their supporters.

Sebastien Haller

However, Eintracht are a strong team and even without Ante Rebic can cause any defence issues going forward. Should be a tight affair, with the away side quite possibly pinching it on away goals.

Prediction: Inter 1-1 Eintracht Frankfurt

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Wanda Nara Provides Update on Mauro Icardi’s Inter Future Amid Contract Dispute

Mauro Icardi’s wife and agent Wanda Nara has reassured Inter supporters by claiming the striker ‘wants to stay’ at Inter, despite being involved in a series of disputes with the club in recent weeks.

The Argentine is currently sidelined with an injury, although speculation has been rife in regards to the striker’s future, rumours which were heightened when the forward was stripped of the club captaincy in mid-February.

Mauro Icardi

Nara has looked to poor cold water on any suggestions her client is set for the exit door in Milan,

instead insisting to ​Sport Mediaset that the 26-year-old has no intention of leaving the club, in an effort to put end to the rumours of his departure from ​Serie A.

“I would not say anything that could be misinterpreted,” Nara said, as quoted by ​Goal.

“This will be an important week for the entire Inter world. But I can say it was a positive week, because we talked and we came to something important. I want the best for Mauro: He wants to stay at Inter. I’m working to make him feel good and make peace with the club. We also chose a lawyer who’s an Inter fan!”

Icardi wasn’t present at San Siro on Sunday as the ​Inter recorded a 2-0 win for SPAL, however, Nara stated the player’s no-show was nothing to be looked into and was previously discussed with Inter CEO Beppe Marotta.

“We saw the match from home, with the family, of course, we wanted to avoid any kind of controversy,” she added. “Marotta knew we would not go, I talk more with him than with Mauro.”

Mauro Emanuel Icardi

She finished by rubbishing claims that the striker’s current knee injury was fabrication, with his focus solely on a return to the first team fold. She went on to say: “The knee problem isn’t an invention. He’s taking care of himself 24 hours a day. Health is his priority right now because maybe he doesn’t feel important for the team.”

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Luciano Spalletti Proud of ‘Fire’ Shown By Inter Ahead of Crucial Milan Derby

​Inter manager Luciano Spalletti stated that his players deserved their win over Serie A strugglers SPAL on ​Sunday at the San Siro. 

The Nerazzurri looked to be struggling against a combative SPAL side before goals from Matteo Politano and Roberto Gagliardini put the contest to bed in the second half.

Luciano Spalletti

Speaking to Sky Sports (via ​Calciomercato), the 60-year-old said: “We played badly in the first half but in the second half. we showed character, the fire that we have inside. Sometimes it becomes a flame, look at Gagliardini.

“After the goal, he played like from another planet but also Dalbert, Joao Mario, all with a lot of conviction.”

The Italian also picked out Dalbert and Lautaro Martinez for praise, but was clearly very impressed with his teams performance as a whole, especially in the second half: 

Dalbert will become a great player and he showed it in the second half. Politano scored a great goal, as well as Gagliardini. Lautaro also had a great performance. I liked my team in the second half.”

In an interview on​ ​Inter’s ​website, Spalletti acknowledged that his players lacked control in the first half however, something that he will be hoping does not happen during this week’s Milan derby:

We struggled a bit with the emotions at the start and this must not happen. We knew we had to win and once our fire started to burn inside then we broke the deadlock and went on to win. We were a bit timid and insecure during the first half.

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Inter 2-0 SPAL: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Nerazzurri Keep Pace With Rivals Ahead of Derby

A rotated Inter side earned a hard fought victory over SPAL at the San Siro on Sunday afternoon.

The Nerazzuri failed to get into an attacking rhythm for much of the game against a side looking to avoid relegation to Serie B. Inter manager Luciano Spalletti made six changes to the side that drew in the Europa League in mid-week, probably with the upcoming Milan derby at the back of his mind. 

Inter were uninspiring in the first half, but looked to have gotten the lead when Lautaro Martinez broke into the SPAL box following good work from Joao Mario and buried the ball in the away sides goal. But the goal was disallowed after a lengthy VAR review and this seemed to frustrate the Inter players which played into the hands of SPAL.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 67th minute when Matteo Politano struck the ball on the half volley and buried the ball into the net. There was still time for VAR to review the goal for a potential offside, but to the relief of the Inter faithful, the goal still stood. Roberto Gagliardini wrapped up the three points in the 77th minute with a good volleyed finish into the bottom right corner, this time without a VAR review. 

Matteo Politano

SPAL failed to really trouble the Inter defence, despite some good work by Mattia Valoti, and will start looking nervously over their shoulder, especially after Bologna’s win earlier in the day.

Here’s 90min’s breakdown of the game.


Inter

Key Talking Point

Inter striker Lautaro Martinez scored a great goal in the 32nd minute, cushioning a Joao Mario chipped pass off his chest before twisting the SPAL defender and burying the ball past the wrong-footed Emiliano Viviano. 

Matteo Politano

The goal seemed to settle the Nerazzurri and sent their fans into celebration at a time when they were beginning to get restless at the inability of their team to find the net. However, VAR had spotted something that match referee Gianpaolo Calvarese had missed, in controlling the ball with his chest, Martinez used his arm to bring the ball down before scoring.

It was such a quick attacking move that it was hard to spot in real time, but this is why VAR has been introduced. Martinez used his arm to control the ball to get an advantage, and the goal was rightly chalked off, having only just been chalked on. 


Player Ratings 

Starting XI: Handanovic (6); Soares (6), De Vrij (7), Miranda (6), Dalbert (6); Gagliardini (7), Brozovic (6), Politano (7), Joao Mario (7), Asamoah (7); Martinez (8)*

Substitutions: Candreva (6), Ranocchia (7), Valero (6)


Star Man

Lautaro Martinez has big shoes to fill. In the absence of first choice striker Mauro Icardi, the young Argentinian got his chance to show Luciano Spalletti what he can bring to the side. 

Lautaro Martinez

In a game where Inter seemed to be a little off the pace and lacking creativity, Martinez made the right runs and got in some good goal-scoring positions. It’s just a shame that his teammates were unable to find him with that crucial pass. He controlled the ball brilliantly with his feet and he was unfortunate to see his goal in the first half disallowed, as the control he showed was sublime. 

His performance against SPAL raised the question of why the 21-year-old doesn’t start more often. A striking partnership of the Nerazurri’s two Argentinian forwards would surely make Inter a dangerous prospect to face, and is something Spalletti is potentially looking at for the future.


SPAL

Key Talking Point

SPAL will have felt that Politano was marginally offside as he scored the opening goal. Up until that point, the Biancazzurri managed to frustrate Inter and limit them to a handful of chances. 

Lautaro Martinez,Mohamed Fares

They’ll argue that VAR should have disallowed the goal, and that they were deserving of at least a point. SPAL would have been hopeful of coming away from the San Siro with a positive result as they look to avoid relegation from Serie A this season. 


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Viviano (5); , Bonifazi (5), Vicari (6), Felipe (7); Fares (6), Schiattarella (6), Missiroli (6), Kurtic (5), Valoti (); Floccari (6), Petagna (5)

Substitutions: Dickmann (6), Paloschi (5), Antenucci (5)


Star Man

SPAL wing-back Mattia Valoti caused the Inter defence a number of problems down the right hand side of the pitch. He delivered some good balls into the box, but they lacked recipients as his teammates either weren’t expecting the ball or were focused on defending rather than attacking. 

If SPAL can utilise Valoti and his attacking forays, then they can potentially get the results to take them away from the foot of the table. Although their forwards lack the mobility to run from deep, they have the experience to position themselves in the box to make the most of Valoti’s crosses. 


Looking Ahead

Inter have city rivals Milan in their next game, and Spalletti will hope his side can do the double over Gennaro Gattuso’s team and close the gap between the two sides to just one point. The Nerazzurri will be looking to gain automatic Champions League qualification and a crucial step towards that goal is a win over the Rossoneri.

Luciano Spalletti

SPAL welcome Roma to the Stadio Paolo Mazza in their next league game. Boss Leonardo Semplici will be looking for his team to pick up points wherever they can, and will target home games such as these. Roma have recently changed manager so Semplici may see this as an opportunity to come away with at least a point and boost their chances of survival.

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