Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Gianluca Nesci On January - 11 - 2012

Inter-view: Good Times Ahead for the Nerazzurri?

Amidst all of the buzz surrounding Carlos Tevez and his possible arrival in Milan, Inter have slowly continued their climb towards the upper echelon of the Serie A table.

The Nerazzurri have won five consecutive league matches over the past month, outscoring their opponents by a 13-1 mark during that period.

Now only six points behind Udinese in the race for the third and final Champions League birth, Inter are once again entering the conversation as not only European hopefuls, but title contenders as well.

A squad deemed too old, too slow and lacking creativity at the beginning of the season is now being dubbed as an experienced group with a solid defence (no small thanks to five clean sheets in seven matches), and an exciting group of young players coming through the ranks.

Winning cures all, it seems.

But while this form is a massive improvement for a club who dropped matches against the likes of Novara and Catania earlier in the year, the quality of opposition leaves much to be desired. Wins over Parma, Lecce, Cesena, Genoa and Fiorentina - while solid results – count for little if Inter cannot translate it into results against their Champions League rivals.

The first real test for Claudio Ranieri and co. comes this weekend, when one of the most storied rivalries in world football adds yet another chapter to its history book. When Inter “visit” Milan in the Derby della Madonnina on Sunday night, we will learn just how far the Nerazzurri have progressed.

One area that Inter have drastically improved is in the ability to create and finish chances, with the continued development of Ricky Alvarez being a key factor. The former Velez Sarsfield man, along with Philippe Coutinho to a lesser extent, have done a great job over the past month creating opportunities for a group of strikers who have taken their share of criticism this season.

With two goals on the weekend against Parma, Diego Milito brought back images of his incredible 2009-2010 season, when he was widely regarded as one of the best strikers on the planet. The Argentine now sits atop the club goal-scoring chart with six tallies on the campaign. This comes after a severe dry spell when he only found the net one time in 11 games.

“When you don’t play well, you have fewer chances to score. But players like Pazzini, Milito and myself never forget how to score, and when you recover confidence and things start to turn, the strikers will start to get goals again,” Diego Forlan told La Gazzetta dello Sport just before the turn of the calendar.

The re-born confidence of the attackers isn’t the only thing Inter fans have to be excited about.

Following the 5-0 demolition of Parma, Claudio Ranieri announced that Forlan and star midfielder Wesley Sneijder are expected to be fit for the highly anticipated clash with Milan.

“If Sneijder and Forlan will be fit to play in the derby? I hope so; I have them ready in my mind,” Ranieri told the club’s official website. “Now life will get better but more complicated because two great players like them are ready to make a comeback to the team.”

The Dutch star has been sidelined since he strained a leg muscle while going through his pre-match warm-up on Nov. 19 ahead of the match with Cagliari. Meanwhile, Forlan has been hampered by an ankle injury he sustained in training last week.

With the squad getting healthy and the youngsters continuing to grow, Inter can look ahead to the New Year with optimism. They may not be the treble-winning team of two years ago, but Inter have certainly put a brutal start to the season behind them.

As it has so many times before, the upcoming derby will go a long way in determining if Inter can reach the summit of Serie A.

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