In one of the most important games of the season, Spalletti opted for his usual, tactically sound 4-2-3-1 against Juve’s 4-3-3. As expected, Inter pressured Juve high up the pitch in order to win the ball back but Juve kept finding space down their right hand side. Inter’s tight unit and pressure forced Juve to go wide and cross which ultimately played into Spalletti’s hands.
The 4-3-3 which Juventus deployed allowed them to match Inter man to man in the midfield but also have wide options (Mainly Cuadrado) in the hope gaps would open up as legs begin to tire and mistakes occur. That did happen at moments however Samir Handanovic was on call to keep them out. A clear tactic from Juve seemed to be to find Mandzukic in the air against D’Ambrosio as much as possible with him drifting in from the left as the majority of the attention was being dished upon Higuain understandably.
The game started off with Inter dominating with and without the ball due to their high press forcing Juve to punt the ball long and ultimately losing possession which Inter didn’t do too much with as Juve stayed compact leading to the ball going out wide an awful lot.
However a quick counter from Juve in the 8th minute, beginning with a pass from Cheillini splitting the midfield to find Mandzukic, led to the first major talking point of the game as Handanovic was forced into a save and Miranda had to clear off the line.
A common action throughout was a pass from Pjanic to Cuadrado out wide leaving him one on one with Santon and Juve loading the box looking to find Mandzukic at the back post, this was proving to be very successful and if it wasn’t for some good saves and also some poor moments from the Juve #17, it could easily have been 1 or 2-0 to the home side.
Both sides were cancelling each other out with their respective playstyles, Inter with their high pressure and Juve with their low pressure, compact style. One of the main issues Inter faced without the ball was Miralem Pjanic since Allegri had him play a deep lying playmaker role allowing him to spread the play and keep the ball with Matuidi and Khedira playing on either side as shown below.
From the 20th minute onwards, the game was predominantly played in the middle sector of the pitch with both teams cutting off the supply to the forwards and pressing to cause either a mistake or long pass. The last big talking point of the first half came right at the end with yet another attack down Juventus’ right flank as De Sciglio overlapped Cuadrado allowing the Colombian to yet again whip a cross to the back post with Mandzukic up against D’Ambrosio as Higuain dragged Miranda away with his run and his effort crashed off the crossbar.
A slower tempo was taken to start the second half as Inter didn’t press as high but instead kept the ball well, playing it around the defence and two centre midfielders but not really progressing upon that since Juve kept their low pressure, compact style. Whenever Juventus won the ball back, Spalletti’s men would fall into a 4-4-1-1 formation to help the fullbacks and centre midfielders with the amount of wing play on display however Ivan and Davide were still unable to get close enough to Cuadrado allowing him to continue firing crosses into our box.
As time went on, it was clear that the high press was no longer an option as Inter instead opted for a deep block, perhaps negatively as it invited Juve to build the ball up higher up the pitch and even if we won the ball back, Icardi was left alone with next to no support against two centre backs so it would’ve been tough for him to hold the ball or create something for himself meaning counter attacking would be slightly more difficult.
The deeper block simply allowed them to dominate the match and even though we tried to keep the ball, the pressure and the fact most of their team was cemented in our half meant it was impossible to pass the ball out at times, an instruction Luciano uses regularly.
In the last 15, Allegri took off Khedira for Dybala signalling he wanted to try to win the match and having Pjanic drop into a two with Matuidi with Dybala playing in front trying to find pockets of space. Gagliardini came on for Candreva to form a more solid, defensive midfield triangle as the game entered the latter stages.
Two very tactical managers who just couldn’t get the better of each other however keeping a clean sheet meant we broke their 44 game record of scoring in consecutive matches in Serie A which is a positive to take from the game. A good point away to the reigning champions however at the same time, it feels like they were there for the taking if the three in behind Mauro had been more on their game, especially Brozovic and Perisic as they were very error prone throughout the game losing possession needlessly and just making the wrong decisions. Also, Cuadrado proved to be too much for Santon and even Perisic as well to handle which we fortunately got away with. Apart from that, it was an even game and a point was a fair result on the night.