Eight Years of Darkness

This is not a dream; Parma really did win at San Siro.

Industrious Radja Nainggolan in the middle, young Lautaro Martínez as an attacking option, Keita Baldé and Matteo Politano out wide and Stefan de Vrij securing the defense – that was Inter’s promising plan for a 2018/19 Serie A title challenge. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. Two days after a revolting fiasco against Parma, it’s time to relive the club’s most important dates since it’s absolute ascendancy eight years ago. Interistas, cover your eyes, for it will not be a diary to enjoy…

Chapter One: Welcome to Paradise

Absolute ecstasy; that night in Madrid was a crowning achievement of many, many careers.

27 August 2009 – The Eleventh Man

Wesley Sneijder moves to Inter from Real Madrid for £13.5m. The last piece of Nerazzurri puzzle lands where it’s supposed to be. Strikers Eto’o and Milito, alongside with centre-back Lúcio are also in just a couple weeks earlier, teaming up in a starting XI with seven hardened veterans. Cristian Chivu’s been there for two years. Maicon – for three. Samuel – four. Júlio César and Cambiasso – five. Dejan Stanković – six. Legendary captain Javier Zanetti – for incredible fourteen years. The stage has been set.

5 May 2010 – First Scalp

Coppa Italia goes to San Siro. The reigning Italian champions may need a comeback victory over Juventus and two, hard-fought matches against Fiorentina but they get the job done in the end. At Stadio Olimpico, one careless pass in Roma’s own half leads to Diego Milito’s exquisite top-corner finish and the hosts are defeated despite holding a home ground advantage. It is not the last time when sent off Francesco Totti will see the back of black and blue shirts that season…

16 May 2010 – Second Scalp

Inter win their fifth consecutive Scudetto. After a nearly decisive loss against Roma in March, José Mourinho’s players achieve the impossible and pick up 19 points from their final seven matches to keep a two-point edge over the rivals from the capital. Diego Milito misses a handful of chances only to score from Javier Zanetti’s mazy run and hand his club a 1-0 victory. The Special One celebrates the success by blowing a kiss to a TV camera and immediately walking back to a dressing room.

22 May 2010 – Third Scalp

Nerazzurri lift the Champions League, becoming the best European club for the first time in 45 years. At Santiago Bernabéu, Milito is the executioner again, scoring from a one-two with Wesley Sneijder and then bamboozling Daniel van Buyten to secure himself a brace. Him, Cambiasso, Zanetti, Lucio, Maicon and Julio Cesar form the South American contingent pivotal to the greatest success in the club’s history: the treble. Through the whole season, the team loses only seven out of their 57 competitive matches. Unbelievable.

18 December 2010 – Fourth Scalp

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Goran Pandev pounces on a through ball from Samuel Eto’o to open the scoreline. Two minutes later, Eto’s finds space in the box himself and finishes low to double the lead. Substitutes Dejan Stanković and Jonathan Biabany conclude the match with a move that leads to the third goal. The crazy era of Internazionale’s dominance ends in a shower of golden confetti, with Javier Zanetti passing around the slim trophy for the best football club on the planet.

Chapter Two: Redundant

Raúl González sends Inter home. Except that they were at home already…

24 December 2010 – Worse than Milan

Mourinho’s replacement, Rafael Benítez, is gone. After winning only 3 out of his last eleven league matches, the Spanish boss leaves Inter in fifth place, 13 points behind AC Milan. That massive gap is later reduced to six points by Leonardo, but Inter still finish the league campaign below their local rivals, doing so for the first time since the Calciopoli scandal in 2006. A particularly bitter pill to swallow are two league defeats to Rossoneri – each suffered without a single goal scored past Christian Abbiati.

5 April 2011 – Schalshocked

A shock at San Siro. Despite opening the scoreline through Dejan Stanković’s long-ranger, the hosts fall 2-5 to Schalke after a game marked by so many errors and missed chances that it could’ve seen a cricket score. Christian Chivu is sent off for two yellows, Andrea Ranocchia scores an own goal and the German team takes home an insurmountable aggregate lead. “Who could have imagined it would turn out like that? A crushing defeat. Schalke had seven shots on target and scored five goals.” – Leonardo concluded.

4 March 2012 – Miles Behind

It’s been a long time since things were this bad for Massimo Moratti’s club. Having lost four matches in a row, including home embarrassments against Novara and Bologna, Nerazzurri barely rescue a point in a 2-2 draw against Vincenzo Montella’s Catania. Three weeks later, manager Claudio Ranieri loses his job. Two years after winning every competition possible, Inter finish 26 points off Juventus, 22 points off AC Milan and eliminated by Marseille in the Champions League’s Round of 16.

4 November 2012 – From Heaven to Hell

Inter, now without Júlio César, Lúcio, Maicon and Sneijder, score a huge, 3-1 win over Juventus in Turin. This is Andrea Stramaccioni’s seventh league victory in a row and a comeback from Arturo Vidal’s first-minute opener secures them the second place in Serie A table. Little do they know that after this success, they’ll win only seven out of 27 remaining matches, fall to the teams like Cagliari, Siena or Palermo, slide down to the ninth place and register the worst league finish in 20 years.

5 October 2013 – One Point Specialists

Totti’s great revenge happens three years after his Coppa Italia defeat. At San Siro, in front of 62 thousands fans, Roma captain scores a first-half brace and Nerazzurri are down 0-3 at the break. The second-half comeback never happens and Walter Mazzarri’s brilliant start to the season ends. While Erick Thohir’s Indonesian Mahaka Group takes control over the club from Massimo Moratti’s hands, the players produce a mysterious number of draws, splitting the points in 15 out 38 league matches. In the end, that is only enough for the fifth place and Europa League qualification.

Chapter Three: Wake Them Up When September Ends

Walter Mazzarri, watching the Cagliari disaster.

28 September 2014 – The Sardinians Invade

He picks up a ball pushed out by Samir Handanović and scores from close range. Then, he smashes in Victor Ibarbo’s low cross after the Colombian winger has done all the hard work to set the goal up. Finally, he picks up a bouncing ball from a corner kick scramble and completes a hat-trick. It’s true: Albin Ekdal is the second player in the 21st century to score three goals away at Inter – after Atalanta’s Germán Denis in 2013. Mazzarri is later sacked and Inter finish the year even worse than in 2012 – with just 55 points.

27 September 2015 – The Violets Conquer

A year minus a day from the Cagliari humiliation, Roberto Mancini’s Inter lose 1-4 to Fiorentina, making Nikola Kalinić the third 21st century man to smash a San Siro hat-trick. This time though, the players respond better to the upset. Emphasizing the safety-first approach, they score eleven 1-0 wins and surpass the last-year point tally by twelve. Unfortunately for them, Juventus, Roma and Napoli are destroying everyone in sight so the team’s improvement is rewarded merely with another Europa League spot.

15 September 2016 – The Israelis Emerge

Another lemon in Milan. Frank de Boer’s subordinates open their UEL adventure with a 0-2 defeat to Hapoel Be’er Sheva. The first goal is a schoolboy marking error at the far post, allowing an easy tap-in; the second comes from a direct free-kick. This later leads to more humiliation and the side in black and blue crashes out of the group involving their Israeli conquerors, Southampton and Sparta Prague. Just like a year later in Crystal Palace, de Boer is out the door early and chaos ensues.

19 September 2017 – The Streak Implodes

Luciano Spalletti’s lads drop two points in Bologna but this time, nothing terrible happens. For four months, San Siro is full of Scudetto hope as it’s hosts win 12 games and draw four to remain unbeaten until December. Then, a sudden disaster strikes. A week after earning a precious one point at Juventus, Nerazzurri fall at home to Udinese, entering a nine-week slump that pushes them outside of the top three. Instead of challenging for the title, they end up narrowly edging out Lazio on a Champions League qualification.

15 September 2018 – The Parmesans Partake

73% possession and 28 attempts at Luigi Sepe’s goal didn’t matter. Inter lost at home to Parma for the first time ever. The club that remained bankrupt three years ago defended stubbornly and it paid off. Nerazzurri‘s youth product and loanee Federico Dimarco, has come off the bench to score an inspired long-range screamer against his parent club. At the other end of the pitch, Perišić and Nainggolan missed a handful of chances and watched their team slip to the 14th place. Meanwhile, Juve are still at 100 percent…


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