Europa League: A low-down on Southampton’s opponents

Internazionale Milano

Inter are undoubtedly the biggest and most notable team within our group, and some would certainly argue the tournament. The thought of a trip to the San Siro and a huge European night at St Mary’s has all fans licking their lips. Inter Milan have won six European honours in their history –  this includes three European Cups/Champions Leagues and three UEFA Cups. The I Nerazzurri won back to back European Cups in the 90’s. During the 1963/64 season by beating Real Madrid, 3-1. Then during the 1963/64 season by beating Benfica at the San Siro.. Inter then won their first Champions League trophy in 2010, under Jose Mourinho. A memorable night against Louis Van Gaal’s Bayern Munich, winning 2-0 as Diego Milito grabbed both goals. That was also the year in which Saints won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, showing just how far we’ve come. Inter won all three of their UEFA Cups during the 1990’s. The first in the 1990/91 season, beating Roma 2-1 over two legs. The second during the 1993/94 season, winning against Austria Salzburg, and the final during the 1997/98 season when they won 3-0 against Lazio, Ronaldo was on the scoresheet in that particular final.

Inter have won 18 Serie A titles and 12 domestic cups, however, they haven’t won a league title since 2010 and they also haven’t won a domestic cup since 2011. Both the demise of Inter and the rise of Juventus are to blame for this.

Like Saints, Inter have a new man in charge for this coming season. Despite being at the helm for the whole of pre-season, Roberto Mancini was sacked two weeks prior to the start of the season. The Italian was replaced by the former Ajax manager Frank De Boer, and It’s fair to say that De Boer hasn’t had the best start in charge of his new club. Inter have lost and drawn their opening two games of the new Serie A season. Losing 2-0 away to Chievo and then drawing 1-1 at home to Palermo. As a manager, De Boer was greatly successful in his first managerial role. The Dutchman became Ajax manager in 2010, winning the Eredivisie in his first season in charge. He also went on to win four consecutive league titles. Alongside the league success, De Boer also lead Ajax to victory in the Johan Cruijff shield in 2013. Before joining Inter, De Boer was linked with various managerial positions, including Saints.

At such a prestigious club like Inter, the whole team is filled with fantastic players. The key men that we need to be aware of are Ivan Perisic, Mauro Icardi and Gabriel Barbosa.

Perisic is a Croatian winger who can also be shifted into an attacking midfielder role. Perisic grabbed nine goals and six assists last season, and whilst this may not look like a player who will threaten Saints too much, he showed his incredible qualities for his national side during EURO 2016. The Croat scored 2 goals and assisted once during the four games his country played. This shows me that he is highly consistent across all areas of attacking ability.

The next player who will cause us the most problems is Mauro Icardi. Argentine Icardi is a real goal getter and his strength when on the ball allows him to win most duels when running at players. Last season Icardi scored 16 goals and assisted four times. He’s still only 23 years of age but there are rumours of an attitude problem with him – this being the potential reason why he has only got one cap for his country. Icardi can also be greedy when he receives the ball, which resulted in him only making one key pass per game last season. It will be hard to keep this man quiet as he’s one of those players which could pop up with a goal at any time.

Inter signed 20 year old, Gabriel Barbosa or ‘Gabigol’, as known in Brazil, from the clutches of Barcelona from Santos this summer – the fee being a reported £32million. Dubbed the ‘next Neymar’ by some in the press, Barbosa is one of Europe’s hottest properties. Last season in Brazil’s Serie A, Barbosa scored 10 goals and created 29 chances for his teammates. Gabigol also achieved an 81% passing accuracy and a shot accuracy of 56%. Barbosa is also fresh after winning an Olympic gold medal this summer with his home nation, Brazil, and he has also been capped four times by the senior squad, scoring twice. Saints will have to be wary of his lightning place and tricky feet. Positively for Saints, however, he has never played in Europe prior to the move to the San Siro, so he may still be adapting to his surroundings. Nevertheless, though, he’s a terrific player who we might struggle to contain.

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