After last week’s long-awaited victory, Inter were looking to build on that with another win however that wouldn’t be so easy as they faced a persistent Genoa side away from home. A team that is very capable after taking points from the likes of Roma, Lazio and AC Milan this season. Also, 22 out of their previous 24 matches in all competitions had ended in a one goal difference, with the other two being a two goal difference so it was clear to see that if Inter were going to get anything from this game, it would truly be a battle to the end.
Relatively new Genoa manager, Davide Ballardini stuck with his trusted 3-5-2. A system which has seen his side pick up more points in his spell than everyone else bar Napoli and Juventus which speaks volumes about the work he has done so far. A triplet of changes were made as Biraschi, Pereira and Rigoni were replaced by Rossettini, Rosi and Daniel Bessa (who made his first appearance for the Rossoblu).
Spalletti was very, very restricted for this game with the likes of Miranda, Perišić and Icardi being ruled out through injury whilst Brozović was dropped to the bench for disciplinary reasons. So, not much changed including the formation as Andrea Ranocchia (who took the captaincy) replaced Miranda once again, Gagliardini came in for the dropped Croat and finally Candreva took the place of Ivan.
With a makeshift side put out by Spalletti, it was no surprise that the home side dominated the early exchanges of play, being allowed to move it about with not much pressure being applied. Even the typical high press was not in use when possible which meant Genoa were able to build up from the back. Corners were also a danger early on as the Rossoblu tried to exploit the instruction of zonal marking with Galabinov targeting the near post; something which almost paid off.
Genoa’s defensive shape varied depending on which side the ball was on. If the ball was on Inter’s left side, Rosi would push up to either Candreva or D’Ambrosio (depending who was wide) whilst Laxalt would drop to form a back four with the midfield three keeping their positions. This allowed Genoa to apply pressure in numbers when necessary whilst also keeping a good defensive shape for any attack Inter could muster.
Inter’s best bit of play came in the 18th minute when Candreva and Karamoh got a lot closer to Éder after Gagliaridini won the ball high up the pitch, also the first noticeable time this happened. Due to the fact the front three were close together, neat play was possible causing the Genoa backline many problems as Candreva beat his man in the box before delivering a peach of a cross to Karamoh who was unable to convert from close range but the compactness of Inter’s attack allowed this to happen because up to this point, Genoa were having no problems dealing with Inter’s width and inability to get the ball moving in the final third.
A high line was instructed due to the lack of pace in Genoa’s frontline so allowing space in behind isn’t too much of a problem and it allows more pressure to be applied due to the compactness.
The Nerazzurri’s press in numbers wasn’t as efficient as their opposition mainly due to the system but also, the personnel. Genoa manage to switch the play and create a dangerous 2v1 simply because the whole midfield committed to one side whilst Karamoh lacks defensive awareness so he is not able to help. If Hiljemark showed a bit more quality, it could have turned out to be a great opportunity.
As shown above, it was Vecino out of position (Once again, no surprises there) which allowed two Genoa players to attack Cancelo, where as if Matías was in his position, Cancelo could focus on the wide man and there would be no issue whatsoever.
There were moments when Inter’s wide men would tuck into the half space, getting closer to the striker, as the fullbacks offered more offensive support. Doing this meant the defenders all had a man to mark so fast ball movement was required but ultimately it lacked. In the instance below, Genoa are tight not allowing much space through the middle and instead of moving the ball quickly to Cancelo giving him the chance to attack Laxalt, Borja moved the ball across to Gagliardini who done well to break into the box but Genoa were perfectly positioned to deal with an attack down the left side.
A common theme throughout was Genoa’s midfield making bursting runs through Inter’s defence which tests the resilience and awareness of the defenders. Galabinov would be a distraction therefore creating gaps for midfielders to exploit.
And even if the ball doesn’t get through, there are still enough men back to stop a counter as the wingbacks would not attack in this situation or the players that have made deep runs could try to counter press by winning the ball back quickly.
Why are three Genoa players allowed to be on the edge of the box with only Karamoh around? This directly led to the goal which killed the game…
Right after the goal, Spalletti took off Vecino for Rafinha, the only player who looks like he has a real spark about him but too little, too late? Away to a team that doesn’t concede goals often and you need three goals to win the game. Regardless, in doing so the system was tweaked slightly as both Candreva and Karamoh tucked right in to make runs through the gaps between the defenders, dragging them away which ultimately allowed Rafinha more space to produce some magic. It did help to make attacks more purposeful and threatening but obviously, not enough.
Davide Ballardini and his side were very content with the score line as expected so they just sat off, kept their shape and compactness. So, what do you do if you’re Inter then you might ask? Interchange where possible (attacking players), get the ball moving at a quicker pace and use the width available to drag players out. Two of these were done but as most will know, the key part was not fulfilled and that is the quick ball movement. If you are in need of two goals, what is slow patterns of play going to do when you’re trying to break down a deep block? Nothing. I am not sure if this is an issue to do with the instructions the manager is sending the players or if the players are just not playing to the intensity they should be. Either way, this is very wrong and tactically not much would’ve made a difference unless the play was sped up.
With the introduction of Brozović, Inter went to a 4-3-3 with five players attacking centrally as the fullbacks also added options out wide but like I said previously, not much was going to change with the way in which the pace of the ball was being moved at. However, at the same time Genoa were fortunate to not concede after a clearance off of the line from a corner and with ten minutes to go, maybe more energy would have been expressed had the deficit been halved.
Although the Nerazzurri were not great, it has to be said that Genoa defended brilliantly and with great structure. Each player knew exactly where to be, when to press, when to drop back etc and that is credit to the manager because many teams would have given up space through tired legs and minds but not in this match, not this team.
If anyone enters a certain section of the pitch, this example being Karamoh in Zukanović’s space, he knows to apply pressure and then drop off as soon as the ball is played to Cancelo.
Even when the fullbacks made the option available, wrong decision making made it very easy for Genoa to see out the game and run down the clock. In the example below, Cancelo is in a load of space if Karamoh gives him the ball which allows the Portuguese to try to beat his man to get a good delivery into the box for both Éder and Pinamonti to attack as well as Karamoh himself should he make a good run but instead Yann puts in an awful cross which caused no harm at all. Wrong decision making played a huge role in the way this match played out.
Overall, it wasn’t a match filled with great entertainment but that is exactly what Genoa are about; grinding out results and that is simply what they did. You always felt that if Inter were to go behind, it would be almost impossible to get a win from this match and that is how things panned out. However, although the Rossoblu played well and were fantastic in defence specifically, they were incredibly fortunate to take the lead the way they did and if that didn’t happen, maybe just maybe we would be talking about how Inter at least got a point from this game but all in all, it was yet again a bad display from Inter but not a result we can dwell on since the team were missing key players and the derby is now coming up so the focus has got to be to just get back on track. Onto next week where a win at home against Benevento will surely be the outcome!