Terzo Tempo – In The Dying Minutes
Inter played Barcelona at home in a game that basically would have pushed the winning team into a spot in the knockout round of the Champions League but instead ended in a 1-1 draw with neither team booking their place in the second round, at least not on the night.
Spalletti opted to play with his most trusted players in the eleven with Vrsaljko on the right, De Vrij and Skriniar in the middle and Asamoah out on the left side. In the holding midfield role we saw Brozovic accompanied by Vecino. In that line of three we saw Perisic, Nainggolan, and Politano all led by the captain himself Mauro Icardi.
Whats especially interesting in the game was the way Spalletti instructed his players to move, the shape was always changing which is what was able to keep the defensive block so solid. Here we will focus mostly on the shapes of the entire eleven rather than the numerous stand out performances of Inter’s players.
Spalletti started the game in the standard 4-2-3-1 this is always the formation going forward considering it’s very balanced and doesn’t leave them as exposed if ever theres a turnover in the midfield. With high pressed wingbacks and a fully committed Vecino, Inter can still have Skriniar, De Vrij, and Brozovic while the rest of the squad works to get back. It’s important to note that the goal come from a turnover in the midfield which unfortunately was a pinch from De Vrij and a weak shutdown from Asamoah which is what led to Barcelona’s goal.
The most effective form of Inter was when they had a high press. This lined up almost as a 4-1-2-1-2 which saw Icardi and the attacking midfielder force Ter Stegen to make a move, the wingers watch Barcelona’s wingbacks, Inter wingers watch Barcelona’s wingers and Brozovic steps into cut the central option which leaves only the middle of the field for Ter Stegan to distribute, this is where the big bodies like, Vecino, De Vrij and Skriniar can collect the aerial ball and recycle and/or distribute forward.
The last and most effective shape Spalletti implemented was basically defending in a 4-1-4-1 block. This allowed Icardi to press the centerbacks and every time the ball moved horizontally in the centre of the field Vecino, Brozovic or the attacking midfielder stepped to press and the solo holding midfielder stepped in to fill the whole of the four. This forced Barcelona to go backwards, when they went backwards the back line stepped about 10 yards forward to properly set up the press, this led to the pressing 4-1-2-1-2 mentioned above and the system went on.
In conclusion, Inter was able to to tie the game in the dying minutes to end the game with a 1-1 draw. It’s good to know that if Inter can’t play to their strengths of having the ball to their feet that there is an alternative and other ways to win the game. If this system can be perfected for an entire 90 minutes, Inter will be able to utilize it against teams that are “stronger” than them on paper.