Inter once again started with an unchanged lineup showing Spalletti’s lack of trust in rotation something which may cost us later on in the season. The only thing that was changed was the positioning of Borja Valero who flitted between being a traditional Trequartista and a third lung in midfield depending on the phase of play.
Meanwhile Cagliari started with a very fluid 3-1-4-1-1 in which the players were very interchaengable and their structure and organization was very good. The wing backs were bombing up and down the wings with two carrileros or shuttlers on either side of a traditional defensive midfielder to stop overloads down the wings. The two players up front were tasked with creating on their own with Joao Pedro playing in behind Pavolletti.
Cagliari started off with freshness and energy and tactically outfoxed Inter at the start, the two wing backs who are pivotal to this system played very high up the pitch pinning back the Inter players and forcing the wingers to offer defensive cover therefore limiting their attacking contribution. The 3 centre backs had the measure of Icardi and with the lack of support he was getting he was very isolated which meant Inter struggled to create chances for the first half hour.
Aided by Inter’s lethargic start Cagliari deployed an aggressive pressing system which suffocated Inter and stopped them from transitioning from the defensive phase to the attacking phase. The two wing backs pressed the Santon and Dambrosio while Pavoletti pressed the two centre backs with Pedro dropping into midfield in case Inter bypassed the press. This man oriented press put Inter under pressure and resulted in Cagliari winning the ball high up the pitch and creating dangerous chances.
Inter also struggled a lot with balls over the top where Pavolletti continuously escaped marking from the two centre backs and the defensive structure was horrific.
As Cagliari eventually ran out of steam relatively quickly Inter started getting on the front foot and attacking especially using the wings and the free spaces offered their to create dangerous chances. Candreva and Perisic tried a lot of runs in behind and tried to stretch the play towards the widest half space in order to capitalize on the numerical advantage they naturally possessed there. This was very successful as it resulted in the first goal where a cross coupled with cardis brilliant movement resulted in a goal.
The second half was relatively simple with not a lot to talk about tactically, the Cagliari players simply tired with the aggressive pressing they attempted starting to take its toll and Inter brought on fresh legs that changed the game. The only tactical change of not was Valero dropping in with Gagliardini as a deep lying playmaker and Brozovic playing in front of the two where he was very effective with his aggressive late runs which Cagliari struggled to pick up.
Conclusion: This game was not a very interesting one tactically and it was won due to the presence of fresh legs not due to any tactical prowess. Another good performance from everyone though.