Home Analysis Record defense at San Siro in the Champions League: here’s how Inzaghi...

Record defense at San Siro in the Champions League: here’s how Inzaghi made a breakthrough

The Nerazzurri continue to concede less and less: 7 clean sheets in 12 matches in 2023. They had never before won three games in a row keeping a clean sheet at the Meazza in the UCL competition.

Inzaghi "We wanted this trophy"

Aside from the subpar showing against Bayern Munich, Inter have yet to concede a goal at San Siro this season in Europe. While Andre Onana has been exalted in goal and the defense holds, the work of the midfield trio proves to be of precious value. In fact, for the first time in their history in the Champions League, the Nerazzurri won three games in a row at home with clean sheets. It’s an important row of feats: one against Barcelona (1-0), Viktoria Plzen (4-0) and Porto (1-0) – a clear demonstration that things are working for the defense.


Inter played 12 games in the new calendar year and did not concede on seven occasions. Only five teams have punished the Nerazzurri after the World Cup and this was more about carelessness in certain situations. Think of the slip against Empoli as they found themselves in numerical inferiority or the goal conceded against Parma in the Coppa Italia. The goals conceded against Cremonese and Udinese were irrelevant (Inzaghi’s team still brought home the three points), yet the two against Monza were decidedly more painful.

In their biggest matches Inter never conceded: 1-0 against Napoli, zero goals conceded in two derbies (3-0 in the Super Cup and 1-0 in the league), and finally 1-0 in both the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia with Atalanta and against Porto in the Champions League.


No Italian club has collected as many clean sheets as the Nerazzurri in 2023. And to think that at the beginning of the year, Inzaghi’s team conceded three goals each from Lazio, Milan, Udinese, and Fiorentina (in that case winning the match). In addition there was the 3-3 draw at the Camp Nou, a match which cannot be compared to the aforementioned league matches due to the massive importance of the result. Undoubtedly, the inclusion of Onana had an effect: before the Cameroonian became a regular for the league competition (he was previously only starting in the Champions League group matches), Inter had conceded 13 goals in eight days. Fifteen rounds later, that number is at 27 – a much better average.

The defensive back line continues to be a strength with Acerbi emerging as a reliable central defender. Also Skriniar’s performance has not dropped despite the fact that he is most likely leaving Milan in the summer. Last September, Bayern won 2-0 at the Meazza as the goals came from Leroy Sané and an own goal from D’Ambrosio – with Onana’s heroics they were lucky they didn’t concede more. Since then, no one in Europe has scored at the San Siro, despite Inter not playing conservatively. Against Porto, they kept the center of gravity higher than their opponents and produced more chances. The most significant dangers arrived after the start of the second half. After a rough start to the campaign, Inzaghi has found the right balance and the numbers don’t lie. At the Stadio do Dragao, we will see if Inter can stay impregnable even when traveling from San Siro.