Terzo Tempo – Escaping The International Break
Inter Milan played Spal last Sunday in a game that was considered to be a trap, in the sense that everything was in their favour. They had a great turn out in terms of attendance, majority of the players came home healthy (with the exception of Cancelo) and they had an “easy game” coming up. In the previous years, Inter taking opposition lightly was a problem, just like in the past few games of last season dropping points to bottom half teams like Crotone. The teams focus has been a serious issue in previous seasons but it seems like Spallettis’ Inter has a whole new approach on the game not only tactically but in terms of attitude. Inter always had problems with lower table opposition and all though it’s to early to judge Spal as being a low table team, a 2013 or 2014 Inter would’ve struggled to pick up full points right after international break.
Inter won not because they were the better team, but because they had the right tools. Spalletti had many demands that he wanted to have met by the beginning of the season. Even though, in the eyes of many fans our Mercato wasn’t “successful” it fulfilled Spalletti’s precise needs. With that being said, all of Inters’ new arrivals played a crucial role in playing through Spals’ underrated offence featuring the likes of Marco Borriello. Spalletti’s different approach to the 4-2-3-1 was directly correlated to beating Spal’s three back formation which dropped to a near five back when they were sitting back. Dalbert, the newest addition to Inters back line finally broke the starting 11.
Despite being heavily criticized by some, he did fantastically in terms of getting the ball up and linking up well with Perisic. It was evident that Spalletti gave him and D’Ambrosio the green light to really tap into their offensive creativity which really allowed Candreva and Perisic to make more runs than usual and find open space, directly resulting in Perisic’s goal. This leaves Miranda and Skriniar in the back, they both seem to compliment each other very well, Miranda looks rejuvenated and Skriniar looks very promising. When one makes a mistake the other one backs him up and vice versa which is why we’ve been able to concede only one goal in three games.
The most important part of Inters success isn’t their right back and left back getting involved and helping out the wingers, and it isn’t Skriniar being fantastic, it’s the play in the midfield. Spalletti built himself such a strong and complete midfield that if someone isn’t playing well there is someone just as good to take their place. Spalletti has Joao Mario, Brozovic, Gagliardini, Vecino, and Borja Valero; These are all players that can easily break the starting 11 of most teams. Sunday he started Valero and Gagliardini as the two defensive midfielder and Joao Mario as the attacking midfielder.
Now, usually Valero is fantastic despite his age, but he didn’t seem on his game vs Spal therefore being replaced by Vecino along with Joao Mario being replaced by Brozovic. These substitutes were in no way down grades for the Inter midfield and the purpose of these two subs were solely to bring a bit more spark and creativity to the center of the pitch. Inter was able to beat Spal because of the way Gagliardini, Borja Valero, Joao Mario, Brozovic and Vecino were able to retain the ball. We can’t concede when all the midfielders named above are so good at retaining possession, holding on to the ball until that break out pass and if they do lose the ball they all have the technical ability to tackle the opposition or to pick up the dead balls.
Inter’s success versus Spal derives directly from the depth, creativity and technical ability of every single midfielder. They defended well and went forward well exploiting Spal’s 3 back formation as many times as they could, when they weren’t sitting back.