For the first time since they were shockingly eliminated by Schalke 04 in 2011, Inter is back in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals. Romelu Lukaku’s goal in the first match at San Siro helped the Nerazzurri defeat Porto over two legs of the Round of 16; Inter’s 0-0 draw away in Portugal on Tuesday sealed the victory. The future of Inter coach Simone Inzaghi is unknown as the supporters wait to find out who they will play in the quarterfinals.
After the Nerazzurri won the Scudetto under coach Antonio Conte, who later opted to leave ways with the Italian club, Inzaghi was hired by Inter in the summer of 2021. The former Lazio manager had to watch the club sell Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi under his nose because of their financial predicament during his first few months as Inter coach. Inzaghi made a good adjustment and developed a good relationship with the fans. He defeated Juventus in both of the Supercoppa Italiana and Coppa Italia finals during the inaugural season. On the final gameday of the season, Inter lost the Scudetto and were eliminated by Liverpool in the Round of 16.
The Inter board saw Inzaghi’s debut campaign favorably and last summer opted to extend his contract by one more year, taking it from the summer of 2023 to the summer of 2024. Inter, under his direction this season, advanced past Porto in the Round of 16 after overcoming the most challenging Champions League group, which included FC Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Viktoria Plzen.
The Nerazzurri have already won their first title of the year as Inter defeated AC Milan in the Supercoppa by a score of 3-0. They will also face Juventus in the Coppa Italia semifinals later this month. Nevertheless, the league is not going so well for Inter, who are now in second place, 18 points behind Napoli, and have already dropped eight games.
After Conte departed the team in the summer of 2021, Simone Inzaghi was undoubtedly able to turn things around since the team sold key players like Hakimi and Lukaku and also lost Christian Eriksen, who was no longer able to play Serie A soccer due to a heart condition. Although Inzaghi managed to take home at least one title each year, the team as a whole was extremely disappointed to lose the Scudetto to city rivals AC Milan.
The eight Serie A losses, especially those to teams like Spezia, as happened on Friday, have already had an impact on their second season. Due to their financial predicament, Inter absolutely needs to finish in the top four. The battle is already extremely close, and missing out on the upcoming Champions League would be devastating for Inter.
Inzaghi’s dismal Serie A performances this year against smaller teams are primarily to blame if his future is still uncertain. The Nerazzurri have already forfeited points to Monza, Empoli, Sampdoria, Bologna, and Spezia in 2023. These points may be essential in the campaign for the Champions League because they already cost them another Serie A championship because Napoli is outpacing them.
There are now more and more rumors that Inzaghi might leave at the end of the season, but the choice will likely be made primarily based on the outcomes. For this reason, the club reaching the quarter finals for the first time since 2011 is a significant gain for the former Lazio coach, who expressed some displeasure at the end of the game in the post-match interview to Sky Italy: “I’m extremely calm, but when the time comes I’ll talk”. When will this moment come? Will he depart the team before his contract expires? These are the current questions.