Inter (2): 49‘ 90′ Lukaku
Borussia M.Gladbach (2): 63‘ P Bensebaini 84′ Hofmann
Inter failed for the second year in a row to win their first UCL group stage game. For two years now, the UCL draw served Inter by starting them against the group’s weakest team on paper. Lukaku’s brace only gave Inter 1 point as they had to come from behind in the second half.
The game saw Inter being in control, while having a balanced midfield for the first time this season. Inter had a good first half in terms of being composed and collective as they created chances without allowing Borussia Mönchengladbach to have any shots.
Inter grabbed the lead very quickly in the second half, but dropped back after to allow the opposition to create some chances. A miss pass by de Vrij followed by a clumsy tackle by Vidal gave Borussia a penalty kick to tie the game.
Vidal’s lapse of concentration allowed Hofmann to sneak in an equalizer in the back of the net to give Gladbach the lead. After that, Inter played for their lives and Lukaku was able to snatch the equalizer in the 90th minute from a corner kick.
Inter again conceded from very few chances on the defense, as Borussia scored from their only two shots on target this game.
Shots/on Target: Inter 17/4 (B. M.Gladbach 6/2)
Possession: Inter 57% (B. M.Gladbach 43%)
Total Passes/Success: Inter 539/86% (B. M.Gladbach 405/78%)
Crosses: Inter 23 (B. M.Gladbach 14)
Starting Lineup and Formation
Inter started the game with a 3-4-1-2 formation. Bastoni was on the bench for the first time since he tested positive for covid-19. Stefan de Vrij, Kolarov and D’Ambrosio started for second consecutive game in the defense.
The midfield saw the change of having Vidal and Barella in front of the defense with Eriksen playing behind the two forwards, Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez. No change was made on the left wing-back with Perisic starting. However, Darmian had to step in on the right wing back after Hakimi’s Covid-19 test results came back positive just 5 hours before the game.
Arturo Vidal was the counter attacking shield for Inter. He had the most tackles and interceptions in the game. While Barella played the box-to-box midfielder.
With Vidal and Barella in the heart of the midfield, Eriksen was allowed to move freely anywhere in the opponent’s half. He was the most creative player in the first half.
In the attacking part of the game. In contrast to when they played together before, Alexis Sanchez played next to Lukaku rather than behind him, since Eriksen was playing the provider role.
Inter made only three substitutions during the game. Lautaro Martinez replaced Alexis Sanchez during the break who reportedly had a muscle problem. Two more changes took place when Bastoni and Brozovic replaced Perisic and Eriksen in the 79th minute. That substitution allowed Barella to move up on the field, while Kolarov moved to the left wing-back position.
Style of Play
Inter wanted to play from the back as usual, however, with the press that Borussia applied from the beginning of the game, Conte had to tweak the way the ball moved up from the defensive to the offensive side. One of the two defensive midfielders had to drop deep, while pushing the center-backs to the outside lines to act as a wingback. Thus, the wing backs played high in the opposition’s half.
With the presence of Lukaku, Inter sometimes used him as the focal point of the attack. Alexis Sanchez and Erickson moved around Lukaku in the empty spaces to connect with him.
In this game, Inter played the crossing card from outside the box. The players had 23 crosses during the game. The two wingbacks and the midfielders were given instructions to cross the ball whenever they had a chance while the rest of the players were overloading the opposition’s area.
The first goal for Inter started by a cross from Vidal to Lautaro Martinez who headed off target. However, because of the overloading of the area, the Inter players were able to get the ball back to Lukaku for a tap-in.
Martinez hit the crossbar in the 82nd minute from across from the right side when the game was still tied at 1-1.
When it came to the defensive side of the game, Inter pressed Borussia to the outside lines forcing them to play long balls that were intercepted easily by the defenders. This plan was very successful during the game as it limited B. M.Gladbach to zero shots in the first half and only two in the second.
Inter dropped deep after their leading goal in the 49th minute until Borussia tied the game. They failed to put pressure on the ball in key areas during these times. Hence, the opposition players were able to gain some ground on the field and started having space to pick their passes in the final third.
Inter conceded two goals from the only two shots on target in which Borussia Mönchengladbach had.
The first goal was conceded after Vidal tripped Marcus Thuram inside the 18 yards area. However, Thuram would not have been to receive the ball in the dangerous area had both Kolarov and D’Ambrosio did not stay inside the box only to watch de Vrij move up with the ball before he made the miss pass.
As for the second goal that Inter conceded. Arturo Vidal was run to the ground in the last two weeks with the amount of minutes he played. He didn’t have the mental capacity to stay focused the whole time. He lost the sight of Hofmann when the ball was played behind him as he was covering for Bastoni. After that he did not have the legs to chase back Borussia’s winger who had an easy finish.
In general winter showed a good balance for the first time this season. With a midfield that contained two hard fighting players and a technical playmaker.
With Lukaku being the only solution for the offense, Inter look to be one injury away from an offensive disaster. Conte needs to find different solutions in the attacking third.
The defense needs to stay focused for the whole 90 minutes. Because at the moment it seems like Inter concede from every mistake they make in the back.
With this draw, the club is going to face a tricky road ahead to qualify for the next round of the Champions League.
Inter fans would not accept anything this season other than going deep into Europe’s most prestigious competition, while being a true Scudetto contender until the last week.