#NerazzurriClassics – When Antonio Conte’s Inter Easily Saw Off Roberto De Zerbi’s Sassuolo

#NerazzurriClassics – When Antonio Conte’s Inter Easily Saw Off Roberto De Zerbi’s Sassuolo
October 2, 2021 10:30
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November 28th, 2020 – In the second season in charge of the Nerazzurri, Antonio Conte took a slightly different tactical approach, hoping to dethrone his former club Juventus as Serie A champions.

However the team got off to a rocky start, as Conte was yet to figure out the defensive balance of the squad. The team had only managed one clean sheet through the first eight games of the season and was averaging almost two goals per game.

As round nine came around, Inter were traveling to take on an undefeated Sassuolo side that had not conceded a goal in three games leading up to the home game against the Nerazzurri.

Photo: Daniele Buffa

Roberto De Zerbi started the season with similar intent as Antonio Conte at Inter, however with very different results.

Under De Zerbi, Sassuolo had managed to play an offensive brand of football which was a joy to watch for the fans and neutral audience.

As season progressed, De Zerbi figured out a more balanced approach to his tactics which meant, along with scoring multiple goals per game, they were also starting to keep clean sheets, most notable one being a 0-2 win away at Napoli.

Round nine match-up between the two sides was bound to be a close encounter and an interesting challenge for both managers with Inter clearly having a better side on paper.

Photo: LiveMedia/Francesco Scaccianoce/LiveMedia

Starting eleven for Antonio Conte were Handanovic, Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni, Darmian, Barella, Vidal, Gagliardini, Perisic, Martinez, Sanchez.

For the home side and De Zerbi, the starting eleven were Consigli, Toljan, Chiriches, Ferrari, Rogerio, Lopez, Locatelli, Berardi, Djuricic, Boga, Raspadori.

Before the start of the game, the league gave a moment of silence to the legendary Diego Maradona who had passed away during the week leading up to week nine of the Serie A season.

The game got off to a disastrous start for the home side, Lautaro Martinez intercepted Vlad Chiriches’ pass, deflected it straight to Alexis Sanchez who combined with a slick passing combination to open up Sassuolo defenses to give Inter a lead four minutes into the match.

Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

In their attempts to shake off the early goal, Sassuolo came out of their half in numbers, to try and look for a tying goal.

However Conte seemed to have a clear plan to exploit the slow pace of Sassuolo center backs and move the ball vertically from defense to attackers very quickly.

This strategy was working as Lautaro Martinez got another golden opportunity to score Inter’s second of the match right after the first one, receiving the pass from Bastoni and making a run at the goal only to miss the chipped shot wide right of Consigli in goal.

Photo: Andrea Staccioli / Insidefoto

Inter didn’t wait long to score a second, around fourteen minute mark following a corner kick, Arturo Vidal’s shot deflected off of Vlad Chiriches and went into the net to give Inter a second goal of the match.

Sassuolo tried to slow down the tempo of the game and retained possession and pressed Inter’s center back pair as they attempted to build from the back.

On a number of occasions, troubling the Nerazzurri and getting turnovers. Notably Djuricic’s curled shot from outside the box deflected off the goal post, agonizing for the home side, the score remained at 0-2 at half-time.

Chiriches’ nightmare continued as he had to be taken off before half-time due to injury, replaced by Marlon in defense.

As second half got underway, Sassuolo continued to retain more possession in their attempts to create goal scoring opportunities which resulted in Inter playing counter-attacking football.

Photo: Matteo Gribaudi

This favored the Nerazzurri as they were trying to exploit Sassuolo defenses out of position and transition the ball from defense to attack at lightning pace.

Sassuolo’s night went from bad to worse, as Gagliardini finished off a fantastic counter-attack move around sixty minute mark when he received Darmian’s low cross from the right, controlled it with one foot and hit it on the volley with the other past Consigli for Inter’s third and final goal of the match.

This was an inflection point for both sides, as Inter continued in their winning ways while Sassuolo finally came back down to earth and had a series of losses and ties.

Inter went on to win their nineteenth scudetto while Sassuolo finished outside Europa League spot in eighth place, missing European Spots by 2 points.

By Bilal Mirza

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