Lazio (1): 55′ Sergej Milinković-Savić
Inter (1): 30′ Lautaro
Inter dropped the first two points of the season at the Olimpico when they were only able to leave the stadium with a 1-1 draw against Lazio.
The game saw a lot of disciplinary events instead of chances created and goals. Inter had the upper hand in terms of ball possession whereas Lazio were more effective when it comes to chances on goal.
Lautaro Martinez was on the scoresheet for the third game running to put Inter ahead in the 30th minute from a Perisic adventure on the left side. While Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, after the break, came to hunt Inter again at the Olimpico to make Lazio Level in the 55th minute by a header at the end of an inch perfect cross by Acerbi.
Yellow cards were shown in seven occasions with Inter getting the higher share of 4 cards; besides 2 red cards split evenly between the two sides where Ciro Immobile was sent off in the 69th minute and Stefano Sensi in the 86th minute.
Shots/on Target: Inter 12/3 (Lazio 12/4)
Possession: Inter 60% (Lazio 40%)
Total Passes/Success: Inter 597/87% (Lazio 401/83%)
YCards/RCards: Inter 4/1 (Lazio 3/1)
Starting Lineup and Formation
Inter started with their usual 3412 style under Conte; who made four changes from the squad that started the last game against Benevento. Perisic replacing Young on the left wing-back; while Hakimi keeping his position on the right side. Bastoni was back at the starting position on the left side of the two center-backs Skriniar and de Vrij. Barella came back to the midfield along Vidal and Gagliardini. Lautaro started as a second forward next to Lukaku.
While there was no change in the defense and the midfield shape, it was a bit strange to see Barella playing as a number 10 with Eriksen and Sensi on the bench. As for the offensive side, the change in the formation from last game was that Lautaro was playing as a center forward next to Lukaku rather than playing behind him like Alexis Sanchez. This may have impacted Conte’s decision to start Barella over the other midfield options.
The substitutions this game started later than last game. The first two were in the 67th minute with Gagliardini being replaced by Stefano Sensi who played as a number 10. The Italian pushed Barella back next to Vidal. Ashley Young replaced Perisic in a straight swap.
It took Conte only 3 minutes to realize the danger of leaving Vidal on the pitch after being the reason for Immobile to get sent off, while receiving a yellow card himself. He was replaced by Brozovic in the 73rd minute. After that, Conte went to replace Lautaro and Skriniar with D’Ambrozio and Alexis Sanchez in the 79th.
Inter kept the same shape through the game until the red card as they were forced to play with one forward. Alexis Sanchez had to drop to play a clear number 10 until the final whistle.
Style of Play
Inter again went for the possession game with playing from the back through the three center-backs and the two midfielders. The wing-backs pushing all the way up the field. This showed in the possession stats where Inter had 60% of the ball. However, it took Inter 5 minutes to find their feet as Lazio started strong with 68% possession in these minutes.
On the offensive side, Inter alternated between two ways of attacking. The first was playing the ball to the feet of Lukaku with his back to the goal. The rest of the team working off him when he was able to turn. He had 40 touches in the whole game with 35 of them coming in the first 65 minutes in comparison with his 21 touches in the 65 minutes he played last game.
The second way was crossing from both wing-backs trying to take the advantage of having both Lautaro and Lukaku on the field who are good in the air. While as usual, pushing one of the midfielders and the opposite wing-back into the box when crossing. Inter had 30 crosses this game from in comparison with the 8 during the Benevento game.
Both strategies did not give Conte what he hoped for. The only goal came from an adventurous dribble inside the box by Perisic, before the ball took a deflection and fell to Lautaro who took the shot below Strakosha’s hand.
On the defensive side, Inter pressed high and hard when Lazio had the ball in their half. Conte was trying to force a long ball or a miss pass, not allowing the opponent to gain any momentum from building from the back. However, Inter dropped very deep with the defensive and the midfield lines when Lazio were able to break the high press and move the ball forward to Inter’s half.
That allowed Lazio to create problems for Inter because it gave their players the space to work with the ball and move it without pressure around the box. And that was the situation with the goal Inter conceded in the second half. Acerbi had the time and space to pick Milinkovic-Savic who headed the ball into the net at the far post.
Inter style of play allowed them to control the first half but Lazio were able to counter that strategy in the first 15 minutes of the second half which was the period they scored in.
Inter had a balanced game with ups and downs. Conte and his coaching staff can take some positives from this game and maybe build on them.
On the individual side, first and foremost, it was noticed that Skriniar was back to his best, being rock solid in the defense while moving the ball smoothly in the right side with Hakimi.
Afterwards, the impressive performance by Vidal with the most interceptions and ball recoveries in the Inter squad.
Last but not least, the existence of Lautaro’s name on the scoresheet for the third game in a row has unquestionably been crucial for boosting his self-assurance.
One of the biggest positives Inter can take from this game as a whole is the success of coming to the Olimpico and having the majority of the ball possession. Also, being able to control the tempo during most of the match.
Inter needs to work on some weaknesses if they want to be title contenders till the end of the season.
First thing first, the same problem that happened during the first two games. Inter’s struggle with the defensive shape recovery after losing the ball in the opponent’s half. And also stopping the counter attacks high on the field.
The second problem is the area behind Perisic. Because of the lack of his defensive abilities, Inter struggle in the left wingback position. Unlike Ashley Young, who was transformed to a fullback years ago in Manchester United.
Brozovic seemed unhappy and disconnected from the game when he came on to the field. This is a problem Conte needs to fix; as he is Inter’s only ball moving deep midfielder.
Handanovic should not have been beaten at the near post. Will Conte drop Handanovic and Give Radu a chance at some point? Only days can tell.
Finally, Conte needs to find his best starting 11 with maybe one or two changes rather than changing close to half the lineup every game. The picture will now be clear after the closure of the transfer market.
All in all, Inter got only what they deserve, which was one point out of this balanced game. The team had their moments, but they did not take the chances well and they were punished after this.
Some players had a very good game and they just need to keep the good work while some others need to step up and maybe learn from their mistakes.
Inter can use this International break to gather the thoughts and work on some the weaknesses.
Conte cannot complain after this good transfer market that the club had; especially during the pandemic. He needs to get the best out of the deep squad he has.