Date : 08/01/2017
Venue : Stadio Friuli
Competition : Serie A 2016/2017, Matchday 19
Inter finished the first round of the 2016-2017 Serie A season with their fourth win in a row after falling back 1-0 against Luigi Delneri’s side, scoring a goal at the end of each half via their winger Ivan Perisic.
Stefano Pioli decided to field his team in his preferred formation as of late, the 4-2-3-1, with Brozovic and Kondogbia once again at the double pivot and Banega behind the striker and captain Mauro Icardi.
The nerazzurri entered their first half of non-friendly football for the year in a very alarming manner, making easy mistakes such as bad short passes and controls of the ball or even finding opponents with their goal kicks, reaching the apex of their misery as Jankto opened the score in the 17th minute.
The goal came after Udinese took advantage of a series of mistakes by the Inter players, in one more occasion that proves that in football most of the times the team or a part of the team is at fault for a conceived goal and not just the individual.
Now let’s take a closer look at the mistakes leading to Jakub Jankto’s goal.
1)As Samir receives the ball and identifies space in front of him to move into, Candreva decides to stop him but the Italian proves to be too aggressive as he overruns him and gets passed by the Udinese LB.
2) At the same time Brozovic moves closer to Jankto in order to eliminate him as a passing option for Samir. When Candreva loses Samir the Croat has to readjust his position, but instead of staying “between the ball and the goal” forcing Samir to either go in a 1vs1 against him(with support from Kondogbia too) or pass to the wing he too, proves to be too aggressive as he tries to attack the ball and makes a failed tackle.
3)Murillo is waiting Samir to act, being too static and not adjusting his position accordingly as he is caught being too close to Miranda and too far to reach Jankto and help D’Ambrosio.
4)This cannot be considered a mistake but it’s very interesting to see nonetheless. Notice how Murillo turns his body while the ball moves towards Jankto in the space next to him. He tries to always keep the ball in his sight executing a defensive fundamental that is taught to the majority of players as young kids. However, by keeping contact with the ball and turning his whole body he lost time and the ability to accelerate faster to reach the eventual goal scorer. This is in total contrast with the technique that Maurizio Sarri usually demands from his players: to never turn their whole body in this type of situation, but just their heads even if it means losing sight of the ball.
5)The fifth mistake came from Danilo D’Ambrosio who followed Thereau’s run without the ball too far towards the wing, making it impossible for himself to return back on time.
As the bianconeri went 1-0 up and were unwilling/unable to keep the ball for long periods, it was time for the nerazzurri to find a way to score.
With Delneri’s team not pressing high up the pitch but choosing to close the space in front of the ball in 4-5 formation, it was not a case of how to bring the ball out of defense for the nerazzurri but a case of how to penetrate an at almost all times very compact opponent.
To solve this problem, Pioli had ordered his wingers to move to the inside channels, between the opposition lines, creating a 4vs3 numerical advantage around the 3 Udinese midfielders and leaving the wing free for the FB to move upwards.
Inter’s inability however to reach the free player between the lines or to combine with him when reached, forced the nerazzurri in a constant circulation of the ball, with the FBs as the only free players on the wing, something that far from affected Udinese negatively as both D’Ambrosio and Ansaldi proved unable to neither cross successfully nor win their 1vs1s.
Until of course the end of the first half when Ansaldi with a beautiful pre-assist found Icardi who passed to the eventual hero of the match Ivan Perisic.
Just as in the first half, the second half found Inter trying to take advantage of Udinese’s way of defending and applying pressure of the ball.
With the nearest to the ball Udinese midfielder applying pressure on the ball but without the intention to force the ball towards the wing and with Zapata not participating in his team’s defensive phase, thus giving time to Brozovic and Kondogbia to keep possession, Inter tried multiple times to find the opposite side winger with a diagonal ball behind the defense, or even next to the opposite side FB as there was no time for the Friulani to shift horizontally.
Eleven minutes after the start of the second half it was time for the first and most impactful substitution of the whole match as J.Mario replaced Banega and took the Argentinian’s role behind Icardi.
The Portuguese offered much more movement in the central areas of the pitch and the inside channels allowing Brozovic to find him with relative ease. He also supported the two wingers much more than Banega and made vertical and diagonal runs at the spaces between the opposition FBs and CBs that were created as the FBs were following out of their position either Candreva or Perisic.
It is also very reasonable to believe that his impact was much bigger than it ever would have been Banega’s in a match that turned out to be anarchic at times, as both teams were trying to counterattack in the fastest way possible and as their defenses were not moving higher quickly, huge spaces were being created in the centre of the pitch.
The second substitution for Pioli proved to be impactful too, but not for tactical reasons, as Eder who replaced Kondogbia won the foul that lead to Perisic’s second and winning goal.
The year started in the best way possible for the nerazzurri, who however once again showed both their improved and problematic face in the same game. With an easy schedule to continue and the eventual return of Gary Medel in the starting line-up, only time will tell if Inter will be able to take positive results against the teams above them in the standings too.
For more Inter and non-Inter related Tactical Analysis, you can find me on Twitter, @ThanosChelas.