Inter’s Champions League draw against Shakhtar Donetsk yesterday saw Simone Inzaghi struggling to make the right changes in a hard-fought encounter with Shakhtar coach Roberto De Zerbi.
This according to today’s print edition of Milan-based newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, who highlight the back-and-forth tactical clash between the two Italian managers, and how it kept the Nerazzurri from ever really taking control of a match which in the end finished as a goalless draw.
Former Benevento and Sassuolo boss De Zerbi took over at Shakhtar in the summer, and he already looks to have put his stamp on the Ukrainian side on last night’s evidence, with his team looking to play similarly to how the Neroverdi have over the past couple seasons.
Inter allowed Shakhtar to have long spells with the ball, with possession sequences being a hallmark of De Zerbi’s teams, but in the end the choice to start Edin Dzeko up front made counter-attacking with pace difficult, according to the Gazzetta.
The Gazzetta also highlight the injury to Shakhtar striker Lassino Traore as a major turning point in the match, with the Burkinabe having had to leave with a bad leg injury following an accidental collision with Inter’s Denzel Dumfries.
With Traore’s exit, Shakhtar lacked an out-and-out Number Nine and so had to play with a more fluid front three, seeing winger Tete come on and Pedrinho move into a centre-forward position.
Inzaghi’s challenge from there on was to keep his defenders marking the Shakhtar attackers, without having too many players committed to the defensive task, and so defender Milan Skriniar was caught between trying to come out to Shakhtar attacking midfielder Alan Patrick or keeping with the runs of Pedrinho.
In the end, the Nerazzurri increasingly dropped back as they contended with the attacking movements of the Shakhtar players, prioritizing defensive solidity over committing numbers to counter-attacks.
The Gazzetta also argue that Inzaghi made the wrong decision to remove Marcelo Brozovic from the pitch, as it meant that Nicolo Barella was dropped into the deep midfield role, and deprived the Nerazzurri of Barella’s powerful counter-attacking runs, and in so doing removed a key weapon against Shakhtar’s control of the game.