Soccer-Inter's title success brings just reward for Inzaghi


Soccer Football - Serie A - AC Milan v Inter Milan - San Siro, Milan, Italy - April 22, 2024 Inter Milan coach Simone Inzaghi celebrates winning Serie A after the match REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

(Reuters) - Inter Milan have dominated Italian football this season and when the final whistle blew on their 2-1 win over AC Milan at San Siro on Monday, marking the club's 20th Serie A title, it was a moment of sweet triumph for Simone Inzaghi's side.

Inter have suffered only one league defeat this season and conceded just 18 goals, by far the fewest in Serie A, securing the Scudetto with five games to spare.

They had an extremely effective close-season transfer window, acquiring players who seamlessly fitted into the club's plans for the season as they replaced stalwarts who departed.

Snagging forward Marcus Thuram on a free transfer and bringing in defender Benjamin Pavard and goalkeeper Yann Sommer from Bayern Munich for less than 40 million euros ($42.62 million) combined provided alternatives for Romelu Lukaku, Milan Skriniar and Andre Onana who all left before the season.

With Lukaku departing after a soap opera that saw him join AS Roma on loan from Chelsea, Inzaghi gave more responsibility to Argentine Lautaro Martinez, who took over as captain from now retired keeper Samir Handanovic, in a rejigged attack.

They signed Frenchman Thuram from Borussia Moenchengladbach to establish a dynamic partnership with Martinez and the deadly duo have provided Inter with 35 goals and 16 assists this season in Serie A, with the team scoring 79 goals in total.

The strikers have been supported by Nicolo Barella, who has shown technical quality and physicality at the heart of Inter's five-man midfield, with Hakan Calhanoglu and left wing back Federico Dimarco chipping in with goals and assists.

NEVER CLOSE

With Inter's potent strike force driving them to 27 wins in 33 games their challengers fell by the wayside.

Juventus had looked like battling for the Scudetto but Massimiliano Allegri's side buckled at the end of January and are now far adrift of the champions in third spot.

Milan, once viewed as Inter's main title rivals, have had an inconsistent season, with several key players injured for long periods and some lacklustre performances around the new year that put them out of contention for the championship.

Milan manager Stefano Pioli's changing formation has not resonated with a squad that required heavy rotation, leading to media speculation over his position at the club.

Reigning champions Napoli stumbled out of the starting blocks after coach Luciano Spalletti left and then took the Italy job.

He was replaced by Rudi Garcia, who was sacked after four months with Napoli sitting just above mid-table.

Former coach Walter Mazzarri returned to try and turn things around but did not make any impression before leaving after three months, with Slovakia boss Francesco Calzona brought in and now working two jobs.

Nobody was going to stop Inter, though, as they sailed comfortably towards their second Serie A title in four years.

($1 = 0.9384 euros)

(Reporting by Tommy Lund in Gdansk; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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