Spalletti fumes as title hopes fade

- Agence France-Presse, MILAN

Dec 9, 2018-

Coach Luciano Spalletti blasted Inter Milan’s “sloppy and careless” performance as the fallen Serie A giant’s hopes of capturing this year’s title faded with a 1-0 loss to Juventus on Friday.

Chinese-owned Inter, who finished fourth last season, had looked a serious rival to reigning seven-time champion Juventus with summer signings such as Radja Nainggolan, Matteo Politano, Sime Vrsjalko and Keita Balde. But despite their spending spree Spalletti’s side proved to be no match for Juventus, even with Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo not as omnipresent as usual on the night for the Turin giant.

Inter sit third, but is now 14 points behind Juventus, and risk losing ground on second-placed Napoli, which is three points ahead of Spalletti’s side, and play lowly Frosinone next. City rival AC Milan, just behind in fourth, could also close the gap when it hosts Torino.

Mario Mandzukic’s diving header after 66 minutes was enough to settle the Derby d’Italia with Inter’s Roberto Gagliardini missing a golden chance after 30 minutes to help Inter to their first win in Turin since November 2012. “We managed the game in the right way for long spells, but we’re still too careless at times and sloppy,” said Spalletti.

“It would have made a world of difference had we taken the lead, but we misplaced too many passes, we made too many banal and cheap errors. There were situations where we didn’t interpret or read them property while Juventus didn’t do anything wrong,” said Spalletti. “Unfortunately, Juve are smart and we are naive. They have a way of wasting five minutes after a foul.”

Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini was imperious in defence denying Inter striker Mauro Icardi a single shot on goal as the Argentine hitman tried to add to his eight-goal tally in Serie A. But Spalletti defended the Inter captain. “Icardi had the game that he needed to have, he did some great work in dropping to help the team,” said the former Roma and Zenit Saint Petersburg boss.

“We were only on the back foot at the end of the first half and missed two big chances - you can’t miss chances like this against Juventus.” After a stuttering start to the season Spalletti’s side won seven consecutive games but have now taken just four points from their last four matches, and will host Napoli on December 26. “We go home having not got any points, but we know that we’re capable of getting a lot of points. We’ll see where we are in March or April,” said Spalletti.

Published: 09-12-2018 09:26

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