Inter tasted their first defeat in pre-season when they were beaten 3-1 by Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany earlier this week. They followed up that result with a dull 0-0 draw against PAOK last night.
The Nerazzurri haven’t been particularly prolific in their warm-up games, and there are still doubts about whether the team can hold fort at the back with the three-man defence. With the new signings profiled last week, Mazzarri has a few options open to him.
The former-Napoli tactician’s preference for the 3-5-2 and 3-4-3 is well known, and it is clear that he is eager to try and get his teams to play with those formations, given the right players. The issue at Inter is that he lacks the pacey players in the final third.
With the Partenopei, the likes of Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani could break with pace really quickly, making teams wary of committing too many men forward at any stage. However, this sort of speed is missing in the Serpenti ranks.
Inter’s quickest player is Yuto Nagatomo and while the Japanese international has shown his qualities, he is not the man to be bombarding down the wings on a regular basis. In Dodo, Inter now have another option, but whether the Brazilian is a set starter yet is not certain.
Dani Osvaldo played his first game in a Nerazzurri jersey last night, and he will have a fight on his hands for a starting berth on the team. Mauro Icardi seems to have been given the vote of confidence this year, and his Argentine compatriot Rodrigo Palacio will be the secondary striker.
Mazzarri mentioned at the close of last season as well as a few times in pre-season that he would like to trial out a four-man backline. That would allow for more creative players to be a part of the starting XI. Gary Medel is a player who can play both in defence and as a holding midfielder, and where the Iron Sergeant deploys him will play a big factor in the team’s outlook.
If Medel goes into the back three, then it would mean that Inter need to bench either Juan Jesus or their new captain Andrea Ranocchia. A spot in the midfield alongside Yann M’Vila might make the team too defensive. If Inter do turn to a back four though, then it’s almost certain that Medel will play in the midfield and that could see him pair up with M’Vila, allowing Mazzarri to go with a 4-2-3-1 or even a 4-3-1-2.
Reports persist that the Nerazzurri are still trying to sign Javier Hernandez from Manchester United, and if the Mexican is to arrive they will surely play two at the top. However, Jonathan Biabiany is another name being mooted and his arrival could mean even an expansive 3-4-3.
There are quite a few options for Mazzarri, and it will be down to him to find what works best. He will have to be wary though of not making the same mistake as Andrea Stramaccioni and not committing to a favoured plan.