Lock up your daughters, Serie A, there’s a new heart-throb in town.
Well, there was. While watching Juventus stroll to first prize in Italy’s calcio beauty pageant, Inter lay in wait, hoping for old age and the victor’s luxurious lifestyle to catch up with the Old Lady. Sure enough, I Bianconeri became complacent, and the wrinkles finally began to show.
Inter pinched their place at the top, and with a fresh, vibrant charm to match their clear complexion, I Nerazzurri were hot favourites to commence their own period of domination.
But only days after winning the scudetto for the first time in 11 long years, Inter suffered a series of blows to the face which have left them battered and bloodied beyond recognition. The departure of inspirational coach Antonio Conte ripped the heart from this model, while the loss of Achraf Hakimi and potentially Christian Eriksen has cost them some serious aesthetic grace.
So, with Simone Inzaghi now in charge, they’ll be hoping to get off to a fast start and defend their crown, despite the financial issues and change in management looming over them. But how difficult are Inter’s opening 10 matches?
First up, Genoa. As far as opening day fixtures go, you can’t ask for much better than this. Inter have been drawn at home for this matchday one battle, and they’ll face I Rossoblu, who finished last season in 11th place.
It’s the ideal circumstance for the Nerazzurri to kick off their title defence, then. San Siro was a fortress last season, and against a mid-table opposition like this, they shouldn’t face too many issues.
Three points already on the board, surely.
This is a tough one to call. Hellas Verona surprised us all last season with their attacking and fearless style of play, but they faded towards the end of the campaign.
Forward-thinking coach Ivan Juric has also left the club, meaning we just don’t know what shape they’ll be in come the start of the new season.
It should be fairly routine, but we’ve put this one middle of the road, just in case Verona continue to shock us.
It’s never easy travelling to take on Sampdoria, and they proved tricky customers under Claudio Ranieri last year. The canny coach has departed however, so all eyes will be on how Samp fare without that charming man in the dugout.
Provided Inter manage to take maximum points from their opening two matches, this could be viewed as their first serious banana skin of the season.
You can’t let up for a second against Sampdoria, so full concentration and commitment needed.
Inter’s second home game of the season sees them welcome Bologna to San Siro, who’ll be hoping to take more than the zero points they collected from the champions last year.
We can’t envisage them having much luck in Milano however, as the terrifying duo of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez should get the job done.
We expect a few goals for the hosts in this one.
Fiorentina are a bit of an underrated basket case in European football. They manage to pick up decent young players, yet never seem to string together a positive season.
They did hire Gennaro Gattuso in the summer, but he left 23 days later with concerns over the running of the club. Make of that what you will.
Either way, what should be a tricky trip to Florence may probably end up looking pretty routine – unless Dusan Vlahovic turns on the style.
Atalanta is a side you’d prefer to never face. They’re robust, full of endless running, they attack until the end and are unaware of when they’re beaten. Simply put, they are a force of nature.
The only blessing is that Atalanta tend to start the season slightly slower than how they finish it, so perhaps their struggles to get into gear could swing the match in Inter’s favour.
It’ll be incredibly tough, though.
Sassuolo were another of the surprise packages last season, playing some extraordinary football on the way to an eighth-place finish. However, the main causes of that lofty position in the table will probably be long gone by the start of the new campaign.
Coach Roberto De Zerbi has already left to join Shakhtar Donetsk, while the futures of Jeremie Boga and Manuel Locatelli appear destined to lie away from Emilia-Romagna.
This season could prove to be a crash landing back to earth for Sassuolo supporters.
Much like many of the other sides at the top of Serie A, a managerial change means it’s hard to predict how Lazio will start the new season. They have pulled off a major coup in hiring Maurizio Sarri, and although his style takes some learning, it always gets results.
Whether the key figures in the squad will stick around remains to be seen. Luis Alberto and Joaquin Correa are angling for an exit, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is constantly linked with a big-money move.
Having said that, you’ll never face an easy afternoon in the Italian capital, and the Eagles will certainly be out for blood.
The only match trickier than facing Juventus at home, is facing Juventus away. Inter are tasked with the lesser of the two evils on Matchday Nine, but that won’t raise their spirits too high.
Massimiliano Allegri is back in the black and white hot seat, and when he’s in charge, Juve normally win. The maestro’s return does not hide the fact that I Bianconeri are a much weaker version of their former selves though, and Inter can exploit that.
A potential early title decider on the cards, here.
To round off their opening 10 fixtures, Inter have to travel to Empoli. This one shouldn’t be too problematic for a team currently reigning as champions of Italy.
By this point, the excitement of Serie A will have worn off for the hosts, and they’ll be sobering up to the realities of top-flight batterings once again.
It’s not a given, but Inter should end this run of matches with three points.