Following a superb 2-0 win over Shakhtar, Inter have finally qualified for the Round of 16 in the Champions League after a long 10 year wait.
It was positive to see Inter grab the result, especially since the previous matches with Shakhtar brought no joy.
Let’s look into some key points from the match itself.
Man of the Match –
Ivan Perisic was absolutely fantastic today and definitely the best player on the field. Over the past month of football, Perisic has been Inter’s best without a doubt.
I know there has been multiple contract negotiations, and Perisic’s manager has unfortunately said they aren’t signing a new contract. Hopefully Marotta can perform a miracle as Perisic has been a terrific performer so far under Inzaghi.
Today, Ivan was a man possessed. In both attack and defence, Perisic was the standout on the field and there was daylight between the player coming in second. Most of Inter’s structure today was based around Perisic’s ability to beat his man Dodo in attacking situations.
Unluckily for Inter in the first half, Darmian was rightly ruled offside during Inter’s most positive piece of play. A great fake shot had the defender sliding the wrong way and then Perisic smashed the ball into the back of the net. Perisic would’ve had a goal if not for the offside.
It wasn’t until midway through the second half when we saw the masterclass performance of Perisic truly come to light. A sublime run down the left with a tantalizing cross into the danger zone. A couple of deflections before Dzeko superbly scored Inter’s opener.
Minutes later, Perisic was at it again. This time a pinpoint cross found Dzeko at the back post where he headed the ball home making it 2-0 to Inter. It was game over after that, but this did not stop Perisic going above and beyond.
A couple of build up plays from Shakhtar where Perisic worked his backside off in defence to save the day and clear the ball out of danger. A truly wonderful performance all over the pitch from the Croatian superstar.
What did we do right?
If you look at statistics of this match, Shakhtar actually dominated in possession. For once, this Inter side did not have more control of the ball over their opposition.
Was this a problem? No.
This actually benefited Inter as it meant that Shakhtar were put in a false sense of security. With Shakhtar in control, it meant their players were spread out all over the park. If Inter had been in control, then we would’ve seen a compact defensive structure from Shakhtar meaning it would’ve been more difficult to break them down.
The pressure applied in defence allowed Inter to intercept the ball and setup deadly counter-attacking raids. Unfortunately a lot of these chances were wasted as Inter had a total of 21 shots at goal compared to 7 from their opponents.
Even though we put the ball into the goal four times, only two of them would go on to count. One was disallowed for offside, while the other was disallowed for a push in the back from Lautaro. I thought both were the right call so no disputes about the decisions.
Our substitutions were correct, as Barella looked dead on his feet and even Lautaro was completely sapped too. Correa and Vidal bring speed and experience respectively, so definitely the right changes from Inzaghi. Also, bringing in the experienced D’Ambrosio for Darmian was great as Inter were able to bolster the defence.
This match was a gigantic step forward in our season so we need to appreciate this accomplishment of getting through the group stages.
Air of confidence –
Since the Milan derby, this Inter side has gone from strength to strength. We then arguably played some of our best football in the match against Napoli. The confidence must be at an all time high at the moment.
The midfield is really starting to gel well together. I think this sudden improvement is proving to be the key to Inter’s success. Even with Barella’s recent dip in form (from fatigue I believe), Hakan has stepped up to play some decent football.
The trio of Brozovic, Hakan and Barella are working hard for each other and really putting Inter in control of matches. This is freeing up space for the likes of Darmian and Perisic on the flanks proving to be decisive with Dzeko and Lautaro scoring goals.
I think we are finally seeing what Inzaghi’s tactics look like and the team are definitely buying into his coaching ideologies. We see trust being put in the players and this allows them to contribute even if they aren’t performing good on the day.
The perfect example was with Dzeko I thought. A poor first half where he missed multiple opportunities which I’m sure he would’ve been disappointed with. Then 20 minutes later, he turns it around and has two goals to his name.
The same thing happened with Correa a few matches ago when he scored his brace. I feel that Inzaghi brings a new belief which allows these players to excel and overperform.
At the end of the season, I might be saying something different. However, Inzaghi has done something which Spaletti and Conte both failed at doing. Inter are through to the final 16 of the Champions League!
A new identity –
This may seem crazy to hear, but the balance of this Inter team is perfect compared to other Inter teams during this century. I don’t mean it in a way of attack or defence, this is purely in relation to Italian football.
Inter is the leader of Italian football at the moment, and it’s being shown through both winning the Scudetto last season and also the players on the pitch today. A new Inter, a new identity is being showcased.
If you go back in the last decade, or even the decade before that we never an Inter side like the one we have today. I mean no disrespect to previous teams as they were some of our most successful.
However, this Inter side is not heavily based on non-Italian players shining as teams in the last 90’s and early 00’s were.
The experienced Italians in the squad leading the way with some of the most promising talents in world football right now. In today’s match, the likes of Ranocchia, Darmian, Barella and Bastoni with the substitutions onto the field of D’Ambrosio, Dimarco and Sensi was beautiful to see.
The balance is perfect because there is experience and youth, then you bring in x-factor players like Skriniar, Brozovic and Lautaro and that equals a recipe for sustained success into the future.
The club is doing everything the right way to be successful for a long time. I’m a strong believer in this squad, and another step forward will be winning the Coppa Italia and Scudetto too.
Where to next?
Inter will face Serie A newcomers Venezia away from home. It’s a match which pundits are expecting Inter to win, and win comfortably too. On recent form, Venezia have won two on the trot, but Inter should definitely be too strong on this occasion.
Might be a good opportunity to give Barella and others who need it a good rest.
Prediction: Inter 3-0
As always, Forza Inter!