Lying in seventh place, seven points behind Lazio with eight games to go, finishing in the top three and qualifying for Champions League football next season seems like a pipe dream. But is it really unattainable?
It might be difficult to finish third, but I would not call it impossible. The hiring of Stramaccioni has breathed some fresh energy into the club and the the win over Genoa combined with the defeats of Lazio, Napoli and Udinese have given the Inter fans a little bit of hope. Inter would probably have to pick up maximum points from its remaining eight games, difficult but not impossible.
The biggest stumbling block for Inter is that they are seventh place not fourth place. That means they need to claw back points not only on Lazio, but also the other teams: Napoli on +4 (48 to Inter’s 44), Udinese on +4, Roma on +3.
Should Inter win all their remaining games, they would reach 68 points. Is that enough? Well history shows that you need 70 points in order to finish third. So even if Inter wins all the remaining games, that is no guarantee that they will have enough points to grab that Champions League spot.
But putting the points total aside for a moment, there are some very good reasons why Inter players and fans should still be thinking of Champions League football next season. Here are four reasons why you should still believe:
Upcoming games against their rivals could see Inter cut back the deficit quickly and give the side a massive boost of confidence. Perhaps even leapfrogging rivals late in the season (the game against Lazio is on the last day of Serie A). The games will be played away from home, but neither of the rivals are going through a good patch of form at the moment.
The fixture list doesn’t throw up too many tough games. Apart from Udinese and Lazio, the only tough game appears to be Milan, the second from last game of the season. But the derby is special and the Inter players won’t be lacking for motivation. Then there’s Cagliari (they’re almost safe), Siena (ditto), Cesena (probably already relegated come Week 35) and Parma (who could be safe from relegation come Week 36).
This season, Inter have gone through periods of wins followed by periods of defeats and vice versa. What is to stop Inter from going on another winning streak similar to the one before the winter break?
The psychological factor could play a part here as there is no pressure on Inter. Nobody thinks that they can qualify for the Champions League. So the pressure will be on the teams above them in the table, allowing Inter to play with more freedom.
Do you think Inter can finish in the top 3 this season?