It is onerous to not surprise what number of supporters checked out Inter’s workforce sheet on Saturday night and thought, “Hmm, 5 defenders, however just one pure centre-back on the pitch. That may be a strong plan.”
The reality is, only a few would have been impressed by Antonio Conte’s insistence on sustaining his beloved, tried and examined 3-5-2 formation, irrespective of how most of the needed personnel have been unavailable for the massive Derby Della Madonnina.
Milan rolled into city (nicely, it is their city too, so…strolled throughout the garden?), as very a lot the underdogs on this tie. Regardless of their struggles in recent times nevertheless, Stefano Pioli’s males are doubtless Italy’s kind workforce because the begin of 2020, with the imperious Zlatan Ibrahimovic main them to 3 straight wins within the new season.
These three grew to become 4 on Saturday, as to the shock of most viewers, Inter slipped to a shock 2-1 defeat to their bitter rivals. I Rossoneri put in a fantastic show, hitting their hosts twice early on, after which absorbing the stress and using their luck to say all three factors.
Inter had their possibilities to not solely tie the sport, however to grab a win. In the end, it wasn’t to be. But all of it feels so clearly avoidable.
Conte set his aspect up with three central defenders, however his choices have been restricted on account of damage and optimistic coronavirus exams. Traditional suspects Alessandro Bastoni and Milan Skriniar have been sidelined, which means the Nerazzurri boss needed to formulate a Plan B.
Solely, his Plan B was awfully just like his Plan A – and worse. Relatively than altering the dynamics of the workforce to deal with the imbalance at centre-half, he as a substitute opted to plough on together with his basic system, and squidged wing-backs Aleksandar Kolarov and Danilo D’Ambrosio into their discomfort zone.
That left Stefan de Vrij as the one pure centre-back within the aspect, and boy did that turn into painfully obvious inside the primary 20 minutes. The ageing and overly-experienced (outdated) Kolarov was the primary to really feel every of his 34 years, getting on the incorrect aspect of Ibrahimovic, and placing in a stunning deal with to concede a spot-kick.
That was duly punished – on the second try – and Inter discovered themselves with all of it to do. It did not cease there, although. Conte was provided a twofer on his shoddy lineup solely three minutes later, when Rafael Leao sized up and chopped down D’Ambrosio, leaving him for useless on the byline, earlier than crossing to an unmarked Ibrahimovic, who did the remainder.
Unmarked, by the best way, as a result of Kolarov was nonetheless someplace in Rome (mentally and probably bodily), slightly than sticking to one of many deadliest strikers on the planet.
Credit score to Inter although, they did not fold.
Spurred on by the sensation there was little left to lose, they threw all the things at Milan in a pulsating 70 minutes of soccer. Romelu Lukaku pulled one again, and he, Lautaro Martinez, Achraf Hakimi and a number of other others had the prospect to spare the backline’s blushes.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. I Nerazzurri could not blow down the pink and black door, and their huffing and puffing was for nought.
Possibly it’s for the most effective. Maybe, on this one event, Conte could lastly have learnt that deciding on a system to go well with his obtainable gamers is a greater different to choosing the right gamers for his most popular system. In any case, a sure Christian Eriksen may very well be well worth the hefty charge paid in January, if he is performed in his finest place – a job that does not exist within the common setup.
And the identical might be mentioned for Alexis Sanchez and Ivan Perisic, each of whom are tasked with adapting to a model new place so late of their careers – two gamers who can nonetheless provide a lot when utilised accurately.
Why did they promote Diego Godin, by the best way? A call that seems stranger with every passing week. Possibly he is not of beginning XI high quality now, however he may do no worse than the chuckle brothers who took to the sphere immediately.
These questions should be requested. A final-minute equaliser might need glossed over the plain cracks on this show on Saturday night, and the narrative could have revolved round a spirited comeback.
Certainly, the Inter boss should still level to a potential penalty that was waved away late within the second half, or the collection of alternatives that have been woefully squandered. Something to deflect criticism from his treasured, treasured system.