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INSIDE INFO: Thoughts from an Inter Milan blog

We spoke to Inter Milan blog Serpents of Madonnina ahead of Southampton's historic away trip to the San Siro in the Europa League.

Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

This week we spoke to Internazionale blog Serpents of Madonnina to get the lowdown on Southampton's opponents on Thursday evening in the Europa League.

Please read, like, share and, most importantly, enjoy this week's edition of INSIDE INFO - the original (we're looking at you, Saints column which gets the opposition's views ahead of their match against our beloved Southampton.

Read what we had to say to Inter Milan fans on their blog here.


St. Mary's Musings: How have you felt your season has went so far? Has it been going as expected?

Serpents of Madonnina: When a team of Inter's stature loses half of their opening 10 games across all competitions then you can't possibly say it's gone well. But that doesn't necessarily mean it hasn't been going as expected.

A lot of Interisti were hopeful of this year being the year we've all been waiting for since the Treble season, but I'm a pessimistic Brit so naturally I had low expectations for this season due to the quite preposterous summer we had; making a total mess of Mancini's inevitable departure, replacing him with an untested coach who has no experience of Italian football a fortnight before his first match and seeing our captain and his wife attempt to blackmail their way to a contract extension (and that's only the highlights).

What's for sure is that we have our strongest squad since 2010 in terms of individual players, but the first two months of this season have once again demonstrated that that is not enough on its own. We had a super four days in mid-September in which we beat Juventus to everyone's shock and then Empoli straight afterwards, but other than that it's been a bit of a mess. 11th place in Serie A and 0 points out of 6 in the Europa League tells its own story.

SMM: Please tell me your thoughts on Mauro Icardi after his latest escapades.

SoM: I honestly don't know what I think of Icardi at the moment. He's such a complex young man.

I've always defended him from who said he was a goal-poacher and nothing else (and what a pain it is having one of those in your team), who said he was a rat for supposedly stealing Maxi Lopez's wife and even who said he behaved like a bad captain in the summer, but if this week has been a complete and utter humiliation for everyone associated with Inter - and it sure has been - then he has to shoulder much of the blame for that.

Putting what he put in that book was totally senseless, there's no two ways about that, but you also need to ask questions of who helped him right said book and most of all the club, who were unbelievably negligent to not read any of it before it was published. He's been an idiot but it wasn't all his fault, and I'd like to emphasise that the Curva Nord do NOT represent the thoughts of all other Inter supporters.

Their treatment of him during the Cagliari match on Sunday was disgraceful if you ask me. In short, he has made an enormous mistake but I'm more willing to forgive him personally than some others seem to be.

SMM: What can Saints fans expect of this Inter side?

SoM: They can expect a team weighed down by the monumental pressure they are under to win Thursday's match, for more reasons than one, which is still searching for a precise identity and plays without a collective brain, thus proving to be much less than the sum of their pretty impressive parts.

The most alarming statistic to come out of our start to the season is that on EIGHT occasions out of ten we've conceded the first goal, which you can put down to a mix of starting games without the right level of concentration and failing to take opportunities when they arrive. There's no balance in the team at the moment, because De Boer wants to dominate every match and bring as many men forward as possible and it means the defence is frighteningly vulnerable.

The starting XI is likely to be pretty strong because we simply cannot afford to snub any match at this stage, but whether or not that'll be enough to beat an in-form team like Southampton is another matter. They'll almost certainly give up enough chances to lose it.

SMM: Does the Europa League hold any importance to Inter?

SoM: It depends. If you listen to what club officials and players have said in press conferences and interviews then you'd be forgiven for thinking that we're taking this competition seriously, but the two performances we've produced so far suggest otherwise.

The first half against Sparta Prague in particular is something I will take with me to my grave. It doesn't help that four of our players are ineligible due to Financial Fair Play restrictions (Joao Mario, i.e. our best player, Gabriel Barbosa, Stevan Jovetic and Geoffrey Kondogbia to be precise), but you'd have to be in bad faith to suggest that those who are eligible to play have produced the maximum they're capable of.

They've been totally distracted, so I'm inclined to say we don't really care about it - the club might well do, but the players don't seem to. Champions League qualification is certainly the main aim this season, but you can get that through the Europa League as well...

SMM: Who should Southampton fans be wary of from this Inter team?

SoM: We have a lot of good players who might be in action tomorrow night, but that doesn't mean they'll actually play well tomorrow.

Ever Banega and Ivan Perisic are probably our two most dangerous midfielders, but they're both unlikely to play from what I've seen (at least not from the start) so I might say Marcelo Brozovic. He hasn't played since the first group game against Hapoel as he's been frozen out of the team for a month, but his punishment appears to be finally over and he might play tomorrow.

If he does he'll have a big point to prove, and when he's on form he's a very useful central midfielder both in attack and defence, although he is a 4/10 or 8/10 player and rarely anything in between. Antonio Candreva is a dangerous winger who might look to exploit the absence of your first and second-choice left-backs on the right wing, and then there's also Icardi, but he was hideous on Sunday and will probably get booed by the stupid ultras again so I don't expect him to be great.

SMM: Are there any Southampton players you think Inter should be wary of?

SoM: To be perfectly honest I've only seen highlights of Southampton's matches this season, and I don't know who you're likely to play so it's tough to say. Tadic is the obvious answer, because against our defence he could run riot if selected, while Nathan Redmond has looked quite good from the little I've watched and Hojbjerg has always intrigued me in midfield. In their current state however Inter should be wary of every single player they come up against.

SMM: Finally, what is your prediction for this game and the group?

SoM: Football is not an exact science, both teams have 11 players and every game starts from 0-0 - these are the kinds of thoughts that Southampton fans should be having coming into a trip to San Siro, but in reality those are the things that I'm holding onto instead.

I don't know if you'd make Southampton outright favourites but for sure you couldn't possibly have wished for a better time to face us (albeit we are obliged to win so we'll have to give everything), so the chances of you getting a result are very high.

I'll go for 1-1 to retain a sliver of optimism, but I wouldn't be surprised if the three points headed back to the South Coast.

For the group I think we'll know a lot more about Inter after this match, because we remain the strongest team in terms of prestige and individuals and logic suggests we'll start picking up points at some stage. It's clearly touch and go whether we make it through though, much more so than it is for the Saints.


We would like to thank the team at Serpents of Madonnina for their help. Please make sure you check out their blog linked above. COYR!