The defender and the midfielder always play: 31 starting appearances for the defender, 35 for the midfielder. They are very titular in all respects and have earned their place despite the initial doubts
From Rome to Milan. With experience to sell but many doubts, swept away quickly. Acerbi and Mkhitaryan together made 66 appearances from the first minute. And counting, as they would say in the United States: that’s not all, the impression is that Simone Inzaghi will hardly do without Francesco and Henrikh between now and the end of the season. Who would have thought it: taken to extend the squad and offer alternatives to the coach, they proved to be two essential ones.
THE REDEMPTION OF ACERBI
Lazio and Roma may have to deal with their exes in the race for a place in the Champions League. Acerbi broke badly with the Biancoceleste environment, despite still being a player owned by Claudio Lotito’s club. In the summer he was no longer wanted by the Biancocelesti fans but not even desired by the Inter fans, by virtue of that smile immortalized after Tonali’s goal in Lazio-Milan: a warrior “without a country and without a sword”. But as the title of Pierangelo Bertoli’s song, he showed up in the Nerazzurri with a hard face: immediately convincing and taking his revenge. “I am much more of a man than all those who have pointed the finger at me. I’m not here to be an extra”. Acerbi’s super performance is the victory of Inzaghi, who wanted him insistently and convinced the club at the end of August. Doubts swept away immediately, with Plzen’s move to the Champions League. And if Inter can win the Coppa Italia, the credit also goes to the defender and his goal against Parma in the round of 16, after extra time.
If Lazio broke with Acerbi, Roma and Josè Mourinho instead tried to hold back Mkhitaryan until the end. Inter took advantage of the expiry of the contract that tied the Armenian to the Giallorossi to bring home a fourth starter in midfield, a player all ductility and experience. It showed in European nights: Mkhi unlocked the round of 16 qualifying match against Viktoria and dominated, in silence, against Barcelona, Porto and Benfica. And to think that the season had opened with a problem with the flexors of the left thigh and a substitution after half an hour in Udine, together with Bastoni. Some fans grumbled: “Dybala paid as much as Mkhitaryan: Roma made the deal”. But anything but boiled down: Brozovic’s injury, with Calhanoglu’s move to directing, made the Armenian untouchable. A tireless 34-year-old, a worker and also a finisher: his goals against Fiorentina (at the end) and Udinese were decisive.
THEY ALWAYS PLAY
Acerbi is a precious element because he can replace Bastoni if necessary, despite not having an innate push phase like that of the former Atalanta. By now he always plays: in Riyadh, in the round of 16 and in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, in the two Italian Cup matches against Juve. After the World Cup, he only started on the bench in the league against Empoli, Bologna and Monza. He holds onto his place just like Mkhitaryan, surrounded after the return of Brozovic but always on the pitch despite the fierce competition. If a current hierarchy were to be established, net of turnover, the Armenian would be among the starting three and the Croatian fourth. Without these two blows, sons of intuitions and pressures, Inter’s season would have been worse. Hard to prove otherwise.
April 28 – 11.05pm
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