Sunday March 31 2019
Inzaghi outsmarted toothless Inter

Lazio were happy to let Inter pour forward with no real incision or genuine threat, explains Elio Salerno, as Simone Inzaghi's gameplan paid off.

Simone Inzaghi tactically out-foxed Inter boss Luciano Spalletti and took Lazio to a thoroughly-deserved victory at San Siro.

Inter started the match in positive fashion, the intensity was high and Lazio were being forced into quick turnovers of possession, allowing Luciano Spalletti’s team to apply early pressure on Thomas Strakosha’s goal. But Inzaghi had come prepared and once the early storm had been weathered, his well thought out plan came to the fore.

The Lazio boss intelligently allowed Inter to control the ball, as he knew spells of Nerazzurri possession would see them adopt a high position. This would mean open spaces for Lazio on the counter and in that scenario, the away side were always going to be dangerous. Inzaghi’s team are built to exploit these openings, with his XI containing players that were quick to cover the ground, with and without the ball.

In order for Lazio to create those opportunities in transition their defensive set-up simply had to be water-tight, and it was.

Retreating into a relatively deep 5-3-2, they were aware of Inter’s eagerness to find their dangerous, pacey wide players in Ivan Perisic and Matteo Politano. With space centrally at a premium, Inter were happy to oblige in moving the ball wide, but Lazio were ready and they suffocated the play as soon as it was shifted to the wings. The wingback on the ball side would apply pressure to the ball, with nearest wide central midfield player closely supporting and an outside centre-back covering, the capital outfit simply overloaded Inter, frustrating them and stealing possession before launching a counter.

This was highlighted by Lazio’s goal and on a number of other occasions that they failed to take advantage of. As Romulo sprang down the right flank, his cross found Luis Alberto, who then expertly picked out Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to head home at the back post.

That particular counter saw Lazio end up with five players in the opposition box, and it was this commitment, bravery and desire that Inter struggled to cope with all night. Luis Alberto played a key role, defensive diligence, his ability to dribble away from pressure and set-up counter attacks was priceless to his team.

As for Inter, with them unable to isolate their wingers against defenders, the hosts’ play became limited to crosses and shots from distance. Spalletti’s full-backs seemed hesitant to be brave in adopting much higher positions, on the occasions they did it stretched Lazio’s defensive shape, but it needed to happen with more regularity. Matias Vecino looked to break in behind with midfield runs, but they were cleverly marshalled by Lazio’s three-man defence. The pair that sat behind him offered little, Borja Valero and Marcelo Brozovic performed a similar role and it made no sense for Spalletti to have both on the pitch.

The absence of Radja Nainggolan from the starting line-up did hurt the Milan giants, his driving runs with the ball forces defenders to commit, drawing space around them. Roberto Gagliardini is a powerful runner and one of the few in Inter’s team that could have matched Lazio’s physicality, so the call to leave him out was certainly questionable.

Stand-in forward Keita Balde searched for a way into the game, but was forced to drop deep to find the ball, adding to Inter’s lack of incision and penetration centrally.

As play wore on it was Lazio that looked the more likely, but Inter were kept in the game by captain Samir Handanovic, who was undoubtedly his side’s best player and the reason the score-line remained close. Inter probed away with little to show, attacks became desperate as they searched for an equaliser and despite committing numbers forward, you never really felt a goal was coming. With the now fit again Mauro Icardi watching on, it seems an ignorant and stubborn decision from Spalletti not to have included him in squad, especially with Lautaro Martinez missing.

For the neutral Serie A fan, this result adds further intrigue in the chase for a spot in Europe’s elite football competition. There is a six-point gap from Inter in third to Roma in seventh, with Milan, Lazio and Atalanta all placed in-between. This win moves Lazio up to fifth, three-points behind Milan with a game in hand.

This is a significant week in the season, with a mid-week round of games there are big points available over the next seven days, so expect the picture of the top six to change again. 

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Have your say...
Given his toxic character, he is clearly no captain material. The club was probably pressured by the squad to take this decision of stripping him before the end of the season, however he should have taken it like a man. Grow up and take responsibility for your (in)actions! Faking an injury with an inflated EGO is not acceptable at INTER. He single-handedly put himself up to sale from being on the road of becoming a club legend. Ciao Maurito!
on the 5th April, 2019 at 9:06am
Exactly @Giancarlo, Icardi deserved a massive new contract without Wanda feeling the need to publicly barter for it because Inter were being so stingy. Such a shame with what has happened. Icardi would be a great loss for Inter and Serie A.
on the 2nd April, 2019 at 1:44am
The trouble is that Spalletti knows he is gone this summer so he can be as stubborn as he likes with Icardi because he won't be around to suffer the consequences. I'm surprised the hierarchy didn't force his hand. I also think they are naive to let him keep spouting his mouth off and making even more of a mockery of the situation than it already is.
on the 1st April, 2019 at 10:32pm
on the 1st April, 2019 at 7:22pm
LOL Inter fans,you're so pathetic with the way you act about Icardi's situation.You desperately want him to play again but you can't stop your self from bullying his wife on social media.And then what?You expect him to say an apology?

For once,to understand the situation,you must go inside Icardi's head or perhaps Wanda Nara's head.Icardi is a top class striker.He's on the same level with Higuain or Dybala. But look how much Inter value him. Higuain is paid 9.5M but Icardy only got 4.5M. STUPID
on the 1st April, 2019 at 5:44pm
The award was founded in 2011 and is named after 1986 World Cup-winning CT Enzo Bearzot

Get it right it was 1982 FFS !!!

Didn't have anywhere else to post!
on the 1st April, 2019 at 4:50pm
Inter may have a treble but this year they are on pace for the Poker: Failure in Champions league, failure in Europa League, failure in Coppa Italia and at the pace inter is going at, failure to qualify for Champions league is next ! The last laugh will go to the Icardi's who know that this team will fail without him ! I want to see what kind of mercato Marotta will have when they can't afford their loans with options to buys and no Cl revenue next season....then we'll see how good he really is!
on the 1st April, 2019 at 3:54pm
On the other side, it`s also Spalletti`s way of dealing with things that is leaving us to desire more. He seems to look increasingly predictable in tactics, as Inzaghi was expecting all the crosses to nobody in the area. I can`t believe Spalletti is so clueless, just hoping that that something will happen, at some point... Keita is not a target striker to know the movements of Icardi or even Martinez, and there was no plan B to open up the defence of Lazio. Let`s hope for a more creative manager
on the 1st April, 2019 at 11:36am
Icardi knows that given the current situation, the team badly needed him and he betrayed them again. It is really sad for Inter fans to see EGO wars are taking the team`s power away and shifting focus from performances and wins to these Argentine telenovelas (poorly written and acted TV sitcoms for those who managed to stay away from them). I hope the people who misbehave will get what they deserve and starting summer we will only have players and staff that will take Inter back to the top.
on the 1st April, 2019 at 10:04am
I couldn't believe his decision to start Borja. Aside from the fact he is never effective from the start, Gaglia was immense in the derby and deserved to play. Push vecino higher, and play centrally (JUST LIKE WE DID LAST GAME). Spaletti over complicates simple things, and his outburst at the press conference about Icardi was embarrassing. Icardi is not helping himself, but Spaletti is really hurting Inter overall with his decisions and pride, as much as he thinks he's doing the opposite.
on the 1st April, 2019 at 7:53am

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