Inter (1): 58′ Lautaro Martinez
Atalanta (1): 79′ Aleksey Miranchuk
Inter drew 1-1 away from home with Atalanta to mark the fourth game in a row without a win. The team now has only one win in the last eight games in all competitions. While many fans believed that this was Conte’s last chance to restore their faith in him, Inter failed to hold onto the three-points which were in their hands after being 1-0 up until the last 11 minutes.
The first half was evenly split between the two teams, as they shared the ball possession without any danger from either side. Inter started the second half as the much better team. Lautaro scored Inter’s only goal in the 58th minute after a brilliant cross from Ashley Young. Vidal had the chance to double the lead 5 minutes after the goal. He missed a one-on-one chance with the Atalanta goalkeeper.
Atalanta controlled the game starting from the 65th minute after Conte chose again for his team to drop back defensively after grabbing the lead. Aleksey Miranchuk scored the equalizer in the 79th minute from Atalanta’s only shot on target in the second half. The Bergamo side showed more hunger for the three points during the last minutes of the game. The Kept the press, but Inter were able to leave the stadium with the point to stay five points from the top of the table.
Shots/on Target: Inter 10/3 (Atalanta 9/2)
Possession: (Inter 48%) Atalanta 52%
Total Passes/Success: (Inter 490/86%) Atalanta 544/89%
Starting Lineup and Formation
Inter started the game with a 3-5-2 formation. The defense had a piece of good news for every Interista because Milan Skriniar started for the first time since the Lazio game in early October. The Slovak center back was missing due to a positive Covid-19 test after that game. Next to him, Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni kept their positions from the last game as center backs.
Conte chose the same three midfielders that started the Madrid game midweek. Brozovic in the middle with Barella to his right and Vidal to the left. Ashley Young started as a left wing-back, while Darmian slotted in as the right one. The Choice of the two wing-backs was more defensive than offensive as Conte kept both Perisic and Hakimi on the bench due to the strength that Atalanta possesses on the flanks.
In the front line, Lautaro Martinez and Alexis Sanchez started as expected. With no recognized playmaker on the field, Sanchez took that role and played behind Lautaro who had the out-and-out striker role.
Substitutions in this game were just like-for-like ones. Roberto Gagliardini replaced the exhausted Arturo Vidal in the 70th minute. Inter fans were happy with the good news that Romelu Lukaku can have some minutes in this game. He came in the 74th minute along with Ivan Perisic to replace Martinez and Sanchez up front.
The last roll of the dice from Conte was to bring in D’Ambrosio and Hakimi hoping to strengthen the wing-back positions. However, nothing changed as Inter was under siege in their half until the final whistle
Style of Play
Inter utilized three different styles of play throughout this game depending on the situation. The first one was in the first half of the game. The second one when Inter believed that they can win this game at the beginning of the second half. While the last one was after the 65th minute when Conte thought that his team can defend the lead for the final 25 minutes.
Inter started the game with their usual plan to build from the back. However, Atalanta went for the high press on Inter defenders which did not allow Conte players to move the ball up the field smoothly. Inter defenders and wing-backs were forced to play long balls to Lautaro and Sanchez who were dispossessed by the opposition’s defenders most of the time. Inter had four shots in total with none of them on target during the first half.
As for the defensive side, the plan was to have two lines with a small gap between them. The three center-backs had the two wing-backs right next to them for the first defensive line. While the three midfielders along with Alexis Sanchez formed the second line. This plan was a success. Atalanta had only one attempt on target, which was a header from a set-piece saved easily by Handanovic.
The first half was even between the two teams in most areas of the game. They had a very similar number of correct passes. while ball possession was almost split between the two teams with Inter having a slight edge with 51% of it.
At the beginning of the second half, Inter did not allow Atalanta to move the ball around in their half like in the first 45 minutes. Conte players were high on the field pressing the Atalanta defender. Inter forced Atalanta to play long balls to the forward Zapata who was always surrounded by the Inter defenders.
Conte players were able to move the ball to the dangerous areas better in the second half. The tactical change was to push the two center-backs further to the sides, while Barella and Vidal played in front of Brozovic to create an inverted triangle. The two wing-backs moved up to the final third. This change forced Atalanta to stay deeper in their half.
With Atalanta in their defensive side, Inter moved the ball to the sides as they normally do when they don’t have their focal point Romelu Lukaku who was it still on the bench. The fruit of this plan came in the 58th minute when Lautaro scored from Ashley Young’s cross.
65th Minute to the Final Whistle
Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. Inter kept the same style of play for only 5 minutes after the first goal. Inter had a double chance to kill off the game but Atalanta goalkeeper saved both shots from Vidal and Barella. After that, Conte made the same mistake he did in previous games by asking his team to drop back.
The team went to their defensive half choosing to be compact in the hope of holding the opposition for the last 25 minutes. Inter tried to overload the sides which led to a huge gap in the middle without any cover. Atalanta were able to equalize from a pass into the middle of the field in front of the defense. The Russian attacker had the time to receive and adjust the ball for his shot at the edge of the area. Inter kept defending until the end of the game even with the substitutions, as they were not able to adjust after Atalanta’s goal.
Inter are having one of the worst starts of a season in the club’s history. With only three wins in the first seven games, Conte’s tactics seem to be an open book for every opponent.
Fan’s patience is wearing thin. With Conte being the highest-paid coach in Serie A by a big margin, fans are expecting better displays from the former national team coach.
With the least shot per game conceded in the league. Inter are expected to have a better defensive record. However, the team is not even in the top 5 best defenses in Serie A. Inter kept only one clean sheet in 7 games.
The question now is, has this international break come in the right time for the coach, or the international players will come back exhausted or injured to add to his misery?
Is Inter in crises?