The deadly attacking pair protagonist of the Inter championship with the Lecce coach seems to have lost the feeling: from 74 goals in the club signed in the first two years to 7 goals this season. The average realization of the pairing fell from 1.07 to 0.7. The ailments of the Belgian are decisive
Inter no longer shines on full LuLa nights. Or at least, not as much as he was able to do in the first two years with Antonio Conte. That deadly goal machine born under the orders of the Salento coach, the same capable of dragging Inter to a Europa League final and championship triumph, today gives the feeling of having jammed, of having lost that spark that allowed it to punch virtually any defense wreaking havoc at every stage. To say it are the numbers, decidedly merciless since the beginning of the season when compared to the first two years. The clear drop in LuLa’s performance in terms of goals, with an average goal dropped from 1.07 to 0.7, is largely explained by the physical torments of Lukaku, forced to miss 18 games this year due to various ailments compared to the eight divided equally between the first and second seasons with Conte on the bench.
It’s love at first sight between the Belgian and the Argentine. Conte only needs a few training sessions to shape a lethal pairing which, at the end of the year, will collect the beauty of 41 goals in 38 games played together between the league, Champions, Europa League and Coppa Italia. One of the most emblematic evenings remains that of the 5-0 trimmed against Shakhtar in the semifinals of EL, with two goals each for Lautaro and Lukaku. But among the best calling cards of the first LuLa we should not forget the championship derby won 2-0 and the 3-1 against Napoli signed by a brace from the Belgian and a seal from Toro. Lukaku’s 34 seasonal goals and Lautaro’s 21 brought the Nerazzurri one step away from European triumph, laying the foundations for the next year full of fireworks.
The one after, in fact, is the season of satisfactions. Conte hits the target in the league with a battleship that grinds victories and flies with the goals of his two strikers. Toro and Big Rom get along wonderfully and, like the year before, end the season with an average goal above the goal per game playing as a couple: 33 goals in 32 games played together, including the clips and obviously excluding the matches in which they alternated on the pitch. At the end of the season, Toro’s tally will be 19 goals, while the Belgian will reach 30 after the 34 of the previous season. La Lula is capable of adding more goals than matches both in the first championship (27 in 26 matches) and in the following one (31 in 27), which culminated with the 19th Scudetto.
The situation with Inzaghi changes radically. The reissue of LuLa looks like a faded copy of that infallible goal machine that sowed panic in Conte’s time, so much so that to date the Belgian and the Argentine have only brought home seven goals playing together (four for the Argentine, three for Belgian). With the coach from Piacenza, Lukaku has only completed two games and, compared to the eleven games in which they found themselves as a couple, they took turns in five circumstances. Yet the start had been encouraging: debut goal for the Belgian against Lecce and seal of Toro (after an assist from Big Rom) on the second day of the championship against Spezia. Then the darkness, mainly due to the physical problems of the former Chelsea, the victim of a series of ailments never experienced before in his career with such frequency.
STEELS AND HIERARCHIES
If in the first two years with Inter Lukaku had suffered just four minor injuries, for a total of eight missed games and 25 days stuck in the infirmary, this season he has already accumulated 92 days of forced stop which prevented him from taking the field 18 times. To the Belgian’s muscular problems were then added delays in form, the tiring process of fine-tuning for a fragmented preparation and – no less incisive – the bitterness for a World Cup experienced as a secondary actor in spite of (others’) expectations and ambitions (personal). All this has shifted the specific weight of LuLa to the side of Toro, taking over the leading role that belonged to Big Rom: if in Conte’s time it was Lukaku who spoke loudly, with 13 and 11 goals more than the Argentine respectively the first and second year, now it is Toro who holds the scepter thanks to a haul of 17 goals (against the Belgian’s 5). Compared to Conte’s times, the team’s style of play and attitude also changed, with inevitable reflections also on the mechanisms in attack: the Salento coach’s game enhanced Lukaku’s qualities and physical skills, with Inzaghi instead it is Taurus who has the leading role. Lukaku’s lack of continuity prevented the Piacenza coach from working on the new balance of a LuLa who today finds himself in a waning phase. But that he hopes to shine again like in the nights of full LuLa.
March 12 – 11:50 am
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