Tactical Analysis: Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio 1-1 F.C. Internazionale Milano

Tactical Analysis: Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio 1-1 F.C. Internazionale Milano
January 18, 2016 15:21
( )

Date : 16/01/2015
Venue : Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia
Competition : Serie A 2015/2016, Matchday 20

Roberto Mancini chose to field a side consisting of: Samir Handanovic under the posts behind Alex Telles, Jeison Murillo, Miranda and D’Ambrosio. In front of them sat Gary Medelas the DM behind the interior midfielders Guarin and Brozovic. Playing as a “number 10” was Adem Ljajic behind the attacking duo of Icardi and Jovetic (who was in a more free role moving laterally or to the wings to receive the ball) in a 4-3-1-2 shape.

On the other bench, Edoardo Reja after the sale of Maximiliano Moralez to Leòn, keeps trying to find the best suited formation to his team, at least until Alessandro Diamanti is fully fit, something that will enable him once again to use a shape that includes two wingers.

With these in mind the experienced coach brought to the pitch his side in a 3-5-2/5-3-2 formation. Sportiello was the GK, behind the three CBs Toloi, Masiello and Cherubin. This three man defense gave them the opportunity to be able to follow one of Inter’s FWs out of line, but still, leaving a 2vs1 advantage behind them. Drame and Conti were the wingbacks attacking the far post on crosses when on the other side of the ball. De Roon sat once again in front of the defense with the primary objective of destroying Inter counterattacks and protecting the three CBs. Cigarini and Kurtic played in front of the Dutchman with Monachello and Gomez as the attacking duo. Alejandro Gomez had a free role moving sideways or laterally to receive the ball and create, creating triangles and combining, mainly on the left with Kurtic and Drame.

Inter’s 4-3-1-2

Inter’s diamond shape at the centre of the field forced Atalanta to build the play and move the ball through the wings where Inter pressed and tried to win the ball with the help of the touchline (this pressing was more intense at the start and as the game progressed became less and less evident, mainly, due to either bad shape after losing the ball or due to the more direct nature of this match).

Guarin has started his run to press Drame, while the diamond shape, that leaves to space centrally is evident in the screenshot too.

This is where the problems from Inter started though.

Firstly, on defense their pressing was failing due to Guarin’s inability to defend on 1vs1 against Drame, who after the dribble was finding space to run into and make overlapping and underlapping runs with Gomez.

On offense, Inter didn’t have the attacking width to stretch the opposition defense (although this is not always a problem is you have the ability to combine in smaller spaces, drag the defenders out of line and find spaces behind them), not creating a lot of space between them to penetrate.

The fact, also, that only one FB was attacking at a time (the one at the side of the ball), with the other staying near the CBs meant that situations like the ones below arose.

As it can be seen, on both the images above, first Guarin and then Brozovic are ready to switch side to the play, but there is no Inter player on this big space, on the opposite side, on time to play to. This forced the midfielders to hold the ball for longer and get pressured with the danger of losing the ball.

Murillo and Toloi score but for the wrong sides

On the 17th minute, Atalanta’s continuous attacking from only the left side paid off, as Drame after dribbling D’Ambrosio first and then moving between the Italian and Guarin crossed the ball low for Murillo to put it in his own net.

In my opinion, this was an avoidable goal, as Guarin had the time to move next to D’Ambrosio and position his body in a way that showed the way centrally to Drame where Ljajic and Medel were ready to press him. Instead he did nothing, letting Drame to move between him and his teammate and cross. See below:

Eight minutes after the goal, the nerazzurri answered with another own goal.

It was a great inspiration from Icardi who moved towards the ball, dragging a defender with him, leaving the ball to pass him by. Jovetic received the ball and passed to Icardi who had run to the space he created behind the defender. The Argentinian captain then passed to his teammates in front of goal, but Toloi made the mistake and made the score 1-1.

Second half

The second half started with Atalanta pressing for the first time high up the pitch, when Inter tried to build-up short. The nerazzurri were once again unable to cope with a high pressing team, making sometimes silly mistakes, and were forced many times on long balls that little to none chances of creating dangerous situations.

Seeing that, Mancini brought in Perisic, who replaced Guarin, changing his shape to a 4-4-2/4-2-3-1.

Although this shape gave the ability to Jovetic/Perisic/Ljajic and Icardi to combine in shorter spaces it still left Inter vulnerable to pressing as there were, in reality only two midfielders, and the initial positioning of the front four, on every short build-up was very high.

With no results and Inter still unable to dominate the game, Mancini made once again another formational change.
With Telles leaving the pitch and Biabiany coming in, the nerazzurri switched to a 3-5-2.

This shape, had both the wingbacks ( Perisic and Biabiany), closer to Atalanta’s Drame and Conti, leaving no space to counterattack or move freely.

It also, fixed the width problem and the problem with the space on the opposite side of the ball( as mentioned at the start of the article), due to the fact that both Perisic and Biabiany could now be high up the pitch simultaneously.

The control of the game too, was for the first time properly Inter’s, due to the fact that Perisic, Ljajic, Jovetic, Brozovic and Icardi were much closer together and able to combine.

But as it is with football, you cannot have only advantages but you are forced to have to face the disadvantages too.
With both the 4-4-2/4-2-3-1 and the 3-5-2 shapes, Inter had a lot of attacking players high up the pitch and in front of the ball. This meant that  there was no counter-pressing structure for when the ball was lost.

Counter-pressing is the act of pressing immediately after losing the ball instead of retreating, just like in the GIF below.

Without this structure, after the ball was lost immediately at least 5 players, were out of the game chasing the ball and were forced to run up and down the field many times in order to return to defense (becoming mentally and physically tired at the end).

This mental and physical tiredness resulted in seeing situation like the one below, where the whole central area of the field is unoccupied by Inter players, at the end of the game.


Inter have to be happy, after taking a point at the end of the day from this trip to Bergamo as Handanovic was the one that saved the team in more than one situations.

Mancini’s tactical tinkering was not able to bring a win as his team showed a lot of problems in their mentality( for example : Brozovic falling down and instead of returning to defend, shouting to the referee or Jovetic slow running instead of pressing Drame , before deciding to follow him and foul him for a yello card), but in their ability to finish once again, as Icardi and Palacio lost two great chances ( Icardi was also responsible for not communicating with his teammates in the situation, that can be seen below, when he tried to reach a high cross while he had three teammates behind ready to shoot)

By Thanos Chelas