Former Inter defender Daniele Adani feels that this evening’s Serie A clash between Inter and Atalanta sees two teams who play a complete style of football pitted against one another.
Speaking to Milan-based newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, Adani hailed the possession-based style of play of both the Nerazzurri and La Dei ahead of their Serie A match in Bergamo this evening.
When Inter last faced Atalanta in Serie A, the match ended in a 2-2 draw after an eventful contest which saw the Nerazzurri miss a penalty late on while La Dei had a late winner ruled out by VAR.
In that match, both sides traded the initiative for the entire duration, and the tempo of the match hardly let up as both teams constantly looked to put pressure on and create danger.
Now, they face each other a second time and each has the chance to take more than a point from the encounter, with Adani feeling that the match will be characterized partly by a stylistic similarity between the two teams.
“There are subtleties to each, but Atalanta and Inter both play total football, in the sense that all 22 players on the pitch are active participants in possession,” he explained.
Adani also spoke about Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, stating that “I don’t consider Handanovic just a goalkeeper, but an extra defender in the buildup phase.”
“He had already started to modernize his style of play under Spalletti, improving a lot with the ball at his feet,” he continued. “Also, he’s the leader in the locker room.”
Adani characterized Andre Onana as a “Goalkeeper for the future, just as good with the ball as he is making saves.”
“But I still can’t imagine Inter without Handanovic in goal,” he added, “and I’m not at all sure that the Slovenian will just stay on as backup while the new player settles in. I still see him as a fundamental part of this team.”
Of the use of the keeper in the buildup phase, he predicted that “It will be one of the keys to tonight’s game, because facing up to Inter are Atalanta, one of the teams that press the most, at a high tempo and always pushing high up.”
Breaking down Inter’s tactics, the former defender noted that “In the first phase of possession, Inter often drops two midfielders, Calhanoglu and Brozovic, with Skriniar and Bastoni going wide at the same time, as if they were full-backs and not central defenders.”
“Atalanta are used to playing with a man-marking style,” he continued, “so De Roon and Freuler will follow the opposing midfielders, pushing high up a lot.”
“But if at the same time the two attacking midfielders do not cover the ball and remain too high, Inter would have a numerical advantage on the flanks, opening up the pitch in front of them,” he went on.
Adani predicted that “If Sanchez plays, as seems to be expected, the focus on his flashes of inspiration could come at the cost of giving up a few too many balls.”
“Alexis will not be a starter,” he went on, “but he is the Inter player with the most creativity, despite the importance Lautaro and Dzeko. If the latter wins his duel with Demiral, Sanchez could have the space to make things happen.”
“Inter have a deep squad,” he added. “Correa is a luxury substitute, whichever of Lautaro and Alexis doesn’t start can come on and make the difference.”
“Then there’s Vidal,” he went on, “who can still give a lot in twenty minutes, and let’s not forget about Dimarco or Dumfries, assuming Darmian plays.”
“Atalanta have somewhat less,” he went on, “but Pessina can be important, Koopmeiners is a player who combines grit and quality and can be important for managing pressing and possession in the final stages of the match.”