Juventus FC

Antonio Conte & Inter deserve credit for ending Juventus dynasty in style

Max Cooper
May 2, 2021, 5:30 PM GMT+1
The dream team
The dream team | Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

It's official: Inter are the new champions of Italy.

Their status as the scudetto winners has been common knowledge for the past couple of months, but Atalanta's dramatic 1-1 draw with Sassuolo on Sunday meant I Nerazzurri had outrun all of their opponents with four games to spare.

Antonio Conte and his players would probably have much preferred to win the league while physically on the pitch - and in front of actual supporters, while we're on the subject - but they can celebrate with pride.

After all, they did win this title on the pitch, even if they were robbed of the on-field, final whistle emotions by Atalanta's inability to pick up three points. In truth, this title has been Inter's since we welcomed in 2021.

While all eyes were on the shock rise to prominence of a young and courageous AC Milan side, who had even beaten I Nerazzurri on their way to becoming winter champions, their city rivals were chugging along nicely.

Conte's men began the season in frenetic fashion, desperate to demonstrate their attacking firepower led by the deadly partnership of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez. Inter scored nine goals in their opening two matches, but did concede five of their own as they struggled to find the balance their coach demanded.

There was also the ongoing drama surrounding January 2020 arrival Christian Eriksen, as Conte struggled to find any way to neatly insert him into his 3-5-2 system. But even when these teething problems came to the fore, Inter kept winning.

The only blot on the 2020 copybook was the defeat in the Milan derby, along with a shock 2-2 draw with a Parma side destined for the drop. Other than that, I Nerazzurri were virtually immaculate, while playing some hectic and entertaining football along the way.

That run saw Inter heading into 2021 in second place, but Conte smelt blood. It was after a disappointing defeat to Sampdoria and a frustrating draw with AS Roma that they turned the corner to become champions.

A crucial 2-0 victory over fellow title chasers Juventus on January 17 started a remarkable unbeaten run of 14 wins in 17 matches, where they have conceded only six goals in that period - just one more than they let slip in the opening two gameweeks.

How has it all fallen so perfectly in Inter's favour, then? Well, the players have just clicked in the way that all of Conte's teams do when they all buy into his masterplan in unison. The defence of Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni has been miserly, conceding only 29 goals in 34 matches.

Out wide, Achraf Hakimi has been the star of the show, and he has demonstrated exactly why Conte pushed for the club to spend big on the former Real Madrid wing-back. He has even contributed seven goals and as many assists in the league, making him one of the most prolific players in the side.

Conte's biggest win of the season was finally finding a way to accommodate Eriksen in the three-man midfield, and the team now looks considerably weaker when he is missing. That was noticeable in the 2-0 victory over Crotone, given Inter took the lead minutes after the Dane had come on from the bench.

It's been an incredible turnaround in Eriksen's Inter career, having been talked about as a possible departure in January to now being a key component in this industrious and creative midfield. Nicolo Barella has been the outstanding midfielder in Serie A this campaign, while Marcelo Brozovic has won the league title his performances over the past two or three years have deserved.

Up top is the dynamic duo. Lukaku has taken his game to new levels this year, following on from his record-breaking numbers of 2019/20 to smash another 21 goals in the league this campaign. The Belgian has also dished out nine assists to teammates, showing a development in his all-round performance.

And finally, there is Martinez. El Toro has scored 15 and supplied eight in Serie A, meaning between them, the pair have smashed 36 of I Nerazzurri's 74 goals - almost half. The depth of their squad has helped out considerably, with the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Matteo Darmian acting as unsung heroes, turning in vital contributions at pivotal moments in the season.

It has to be said, this has been a team effort from start to finish, and it all stems from their manager's relentless desire to end Juve's dynasty. Conte kicked off I Bianconeri's reign of terror in 2012, a spell which has seen the Turin giants lift the Serie A title nine years in a row.

But their days of domination have come to an end, and it is only fitting that the man who built it from the ground up is now taking a bulldozer to it and knocking the fortress down. Inter's next quest will be to defend their new crown and demonstrate an improvement in Europe, but for now, it's party time.

You've waited 11 years for this day Nerazzurri fans, enjoy it.