In the run-up to Saturday's meeting with S.S. Lazio, FC internazionale Milano coach Andrea Stramaccioni explained that his side always rise to the big occasions – as Serie A wins against Juventus, AC Milan and SSC Napoli this term all seemed to certify. Their trip to the capital did not follow the same pattern, however.
Lacklustre in the first half, Inter improved after the break but hit the woodwork twice and found Lazio goalkeeper Federico Marchetti in unbeatable form before Miroslav Klose conjured an excellent finish eight minutes from time to send the Lazio fans into raptures. By the time the weekend was over, the Nerazzurri found themselves trailing leaders Juventus by seven points.
After two straight wins, it was a bitter blow for the San Siro side and left Stramaccioni reflecting on what his side still lack in the title race. "Lately, we've been struggling to respond after unlucky breaks," explained the 36-year-old.
Above all, he feels Inter need more of a killer instinct, having lost their sharpness after ending Juve's long unbeaten run in November. However, he saw some positives, explaining: "In the first half, Lazio had the better chances, but at the same time I think no team has made their life as difficult here in Rome as we did after the restart."
Despite the loss, Stramaccioni is determined to stay positive. "I don't think we have to reassess our ambitions because of a defeat," he explained. "The bad news is that we lost the game, but I liked the attitude we showed on a difficult pitch. We played well, but we are missing a bit of luck."
With a Coppa Italia tie against Hellas-Verona FC next up on Tuesday, he will now be hoping his charges can return to winning ways and inject some much-needed confidence before embarking on the second half of their Serie A campaign. With Juventus so far ahead, they can ill afford any more false steps.
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