Benevento (2): 34′ Caprari, 76′ Caprari
Inter (5): Romelu Lukaku 1′, Roberto Gagliardini 25′ Romelu Lukaku 28′, Achraf Hakimi 42′, Lautaro Martinez 71′
Inter cruised through their second game in Serie A, beating Benevento 5:2 while dominating possession and chances created. Lukaku with the double along with Gagliardini, Hakimi and Lautaro each with one goal.
They started brilliantly when Lukaku scored in the first minute followed by a domination of the next 30 minutes scoring another two, one for Gagliardini at the 25th minute followed by Lukaku’s second in the 28th minute. After taking their foot off the gas for a little bit, Benevento came back to life with one goal in the 34th minute by Caprari. Inter finished the half 4-1 up with Hakimi adding one in the 42nd minute then Lautaro who came in the second-half adding one more in the 71st minute before Caprari added his and Benevento’s second goal in the 76th minutes.
Inter now are six points from two games going into the weekend to face Lazio at the Olimpico.
Shots/on Target: Inter 18/8 (Benevento 11/5)
Possession: Inter 66% (Benevento 34%)
Total Passes/Success: Inter 676/91% (Benevento 330/79%)
Starting Lineup and Formation
Inter started the game with 3412 and Benevento, as usual, started with 433. Inter made seven changes from the team that started against Fiorentina which showed a great sign of how deep the squad is. It was clear from the beginning of the match that Gagliardini and Vidal will be in the middle ahead of the defense while Sensi is going to operate a head of them right behind the forwards. It was good to have Skriniar back in the starting lineup after all the speculation of him moving away from enter. de Vrij went back to start in his position in the middle of the back three while Kolarov took the left Center back side. With Hakimi and young playing on the wing backs. And the two forwards Lukaku and Sanchez.
Most of the time during the game Gagliardini was acting at the deepest midfielder who gets the ball from the defense to the opposition half which is a role that was usually played by Brozovic last season. On the offensive side, the noticeable difference between having Alexis Sanchez and Lautaro Martinez is that Sanchez drops to be behind Lukaku with the role of a distributor instead of being at the end of the final pass which showed when he played a give and go with Hakimi on the right side that provided the cross for Lukaku’s first goal.
The changes were made starting at the 51st minute Vidal being replaced by Barella who was playing the same role. At the 65th minute three changes with Lukaku, Sensi and Young being replaced with Brozovic, Perisic and Martinez. With that change Brozovic played that deepest midfielder role while Gagliardini who was replaced by Eriksen at the 81st minute went to play further up on the field.
Style of Play
Inter adapted build up play style which was clear in the first half. The passes completed by Inter players being in their half, and the top three most passers where Skriniar, Kolarov and de Vrij followed by Gagliardini who was the deepest midfielder most of the time.
When they reached the opposition’s half they tried to push Benevento way inside their 18 while trying to make crosses using the two wing-backs. Wing backs were sometimes the highest two players on the field. Crosses were played from one Wing-back to the other as showed in the second goal where Hakimi played the cross directly to Ashley Young who set up Gagliardini for the shot.
When Inter lost the ball they tried to press high on the field using the two forwards and the midfielders. When Barella came on the field, his energy helped create that relentless press to get the ball back as soon as possible.
What Conte introduced is the ability for the backline and Handanovic to find that pass in the hole behind Benevento’s press and ahead of the defense which leaves midfielder with a big space to work with. All in all Inter’s style of play against smaller teams relies on having the ball more than the opposition while pushing the wing backs and the forwards higher on the pitch which shows in the possession and passing stats.
Positives and Negatives
Inter can only move forward from this game, with lots of positives and little negative signs that if worked on, can allow Inter to challenge for the Scudetto. The first positive thing we saw in this game was the depth that Conte has in the squad, the option to make seven changes from the first game and still dominate is a great privilege which not a lot of teams have. Being able to rotate world class players with two games a week is something that will give Inter a great advantage over some of the top teams that play European competitions.
Seeing Hakimi and Sanchez playing 90 minutes and being the two best players on the field gives the fans some confidence. We have not had a player with Hakimi’s abilities since Maicon. This is a great sign.
Gagliardini playing a good game is a very positive sign especially if Inter are planning to keep him. He got the highest rating in this game from the Inter’s player.
Getting Skriniar back in the starting lineup is absolutely great for the defensive line, as he is still one of the highest rated center backs in Serie A and the world. I think his head needs to be in the game rather than all the focusing speculations around him leaving. He was a little bit nervous as he was the player with the most fouls in the Inter’s team.
The first weakness that Inter should work on is the overdoing of the passing in the back sometimes. They shoot themselves in the foot by losing the ball very close to their area. This happened when Benevento pressed very high in the 34th minute and Inter’s defense opted to not play the long ball and that resulted in losing the ball and Benevento scoring the only goal in that half. Better decision-making at these times should help with this problem. Allowing a small team like Benevento to have 8 shots with 5 of them on target is somehow worrying and Conte should find a solution for the transition after losing the ball from offense to defense. To have more cover for the defenders and to not to leave them exposed as that would result in some big problems against bigger teams.
In conclusion, Inter dominated the game from the first minute which was needed after the roller coaster of the Fiorentina game.
Lukaku and Lautaro on the score sheet for the second game will boost confidence while Alexis Sanchez being the focal point of most of the attacks is a good extra option for the offensive side of the game.
The midfield worked really hard to press and recover the ball as fast as possible while being right behind the attackers which resulted in Gagliardini scoring the second goal.
Some warning signs in the defense that should not be hard to be fixed. With de Vrij coming back and Bastoni at a high level, the defense should be back to being the best in Serie A like last season.