Thursday October 3 2019
Inter impress despite defeat

Inter lost 2-1 to Barcelona in the Champions League last night, but Elio Salerno sees many positives for the Nerazzurri in his tactical review of the Camp Nou clash...

Antonio Conte’s Inter left Camp Nou on Wednesday night empty handed, but on reflection the Nerazzurri will take lots of positives from a game they will feel they certainly deserved something out of. 

The big news prior to kick-off was that Lionel Messi would start for the hosts and, as could have been predicted, the Argentine would go on to play a pivotal part in the result. Ernesto Valverde maintained Barcelona’s famed 4-3-3, with Conte continuing to use his impressive 3-5-2.

The Italians made the perfect start, with Lautaro Martinez racing through to slot the ball past Marc-Andre ter Stegen. This early lead gave Conte’s men a platform on which to execute their meticulously-prepared game plan. For the remainder of the first half, the Beneamata controlled proceedings and should have extended their lead. 

Inter played with intelligence and variation, and theirs was far from a defensive display. In possession, the visitors invited Barca to press but made escaping from it look simple, such was the quality of their play. Their build-up and counterattacking in that opening 45 minutes produced few of the finest passages of play we have seen this season.  

Without the ball, Inter were disciplined and calculated - traits that are guaranteed from a team managed by Conte. Reverting to a shape that resembled a 5-2-1-2, Inter were able to funnel Barca into areas where they could squash their attacks. Using this shape allowed Inter to control the Spanish champions and prevented them developing play through the middle of the pitch, restricting the influence of Sergio Busquets.

Inter’s midfield trio closely marshalled their opposite numbers and forced any switches of play to go the long way around, through their defenders and across the pitch. Once the ball found its way into the open space, the Nerazzurri had time to shuffle over, releasing a wing back to close down Barca’s full-back on the ball. The rest of the backline would the shift across and then Inter’s pressure around play would increase, locking the Catalans on to the sides of the pitch, while forcing a number of errors and turnovers. 

The front duo of Alexis Sanchez and Lautaro were key in this, too. They would drop deeper to stay connected to the rest of the team, allowing them to apply pressure from behind and help keep play predictable. 

The first half was managed expertly and Inter deserved to be ahead, but missed chances would come back to haunt them. The second-half introduction of Arturo Vidal changed the dynamic in Barcelona’s favour. The energy of the former Juve’s man and high pressing disrupted Inter’s midfield chain. 

Antoine Griezmann and Messi were now occupying central areas and that helped create an overload in Barca’s favour. Sergi Roberto and Nelson Semedo were now receiving the ball deep in Inter’s half as opposed to the half way line. Now Inter were being pulled around and, after Luis Suarez had found an equaliser, it felt like the hosts would inevitably find the winner. Diego Godin had spotted the danger on the first goal, but Antonio Candreva never responded and on the second, Inter’s Uruguayan let compatriot Suarez outfox him. Two clinical finishes were the difference between the teams.

Understandably, Inter began to tire as the game wore on but still maintained a threat, even if their counterattacks became less frequent. Ultimately, Conte’s team fell short and now face a struggle to escape Group F. With back-to-back games coming up against Borussia Dortmund, they will need six points to stand any chance. 

Despite the final score, Inter will certainly be boosted by their display against Messi and co. They can use last night’s defeat to fuel them on Sunday evening, when they have the small matter of the Derby d’Italia to work through.

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Have your say...
Napoli and Inter paid the price for omitting players that could have made the difference. Napoli should have got away with it but the Cagliari game should have taught them a lesson but they ignored it. Inter on the other hand missed an opportunity that will likely regret. Imagine Lukaku taking that header at the end of the 1st half. Agree the ref was frustrating but Asamoah was lucky not to give away a pen, so not onesided as Conte would portray. Calma
on the 4th October, 2019 at 1:00pm
This was by far the weakest Barcelona team in recent years, despite having Messi, and other performers like Suarez, De Jong, Ter Stegen et al... and Conte still couldn't even manage a draw, let alone a win.

Wouldn't be surprised if Inter end up in Europa along with Napoli, and Atalanta are back to square one and twiddling thumbs due to being penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Then it's business as usual for Juventus...
on the 4th October, 2019 at 9:19am
Inter played well and everyone excepted a tough time in Camp Nou as it’s historically difficult. Many teams don’t get to face Barca during the group stage and I won’t be surprised if Inter gets selected to be in the same group with them next season as well. So Inter need to do well even if they end up in Europa league so to avoid to always be in the group of death every year. The only difference in the match was the subs but Inter first team is complete and that’s a great foundation for Conte.
on the 4th October, 2019 at 8:04am
How good is it seeing Italian teams do well in Europe while English have struggled! After all the talk about how great the EPL is compared to Serie A, I think Juve, Napoli and Inter are reminding fans that Italian football is far from dead!! And Sensi and Barella with Verratti is going to be the strongest midfield at the euros!! Pray the inter boys keep up their form!!
on the 4th October, 2019 at 3:17am
As much as I hate inter, there was something satisfying seeing an Italian team go to Barca and dominate them on their home deck in the first half. Conte has completely revolutionised the team and this is the first derby in years I can't wait for. Still think we will win but will be tough if inter play the same way!
on the 4th October, 2019 at 3:14am
great performance, disappointing result. Lukaku omission hurt. On one hand, having Martinez start was great as he played amazing and lukaku was predicted to push him to bench. But having an extra striker like lukaku would have meant better options on the bench. With Politano the only player with decent quality coming on, it was always going to be a struggle. Not a surprise that it is already reported inter will go in for a big name midfielder in January like SMS, would have gotten us the win.
on the 4th October, 2019 at 3:12am
As a Juve fan i hope they all crash out of the turnament. Atalanta, Inter, and Napoli, as that means more money for Juve. No disrepect or anything that's just how i feel about it
on the 4th October, 2019 at 12:17am
Inter fans (or Conte haters) are harsh.. Inter has a weak bench and Conte is doing great so far. I am not sure what Inter fans expect with that squad but they have vastly improved. If they end up in Europa League I think they can take it and use it as practice and build for next year. As Juve fan I hope they do well just as I hope Napoli and Atalanta pick it up
on the 3rd October, 2019 at 10:31pm
Sagman,I'm with you 100%.I'm also a Juve fan,and I have to give credit to the excellent way Inter are playing,and the job Conte has done in changing the team's mentality.I really don't mind them winning the league,and Juve focusing on what they should be focusing, the Champ League.So good luck,Inter, keep going!
on the 3rd October, 2019 at 8:41pm
Impressing is not good enough if they get knocked out in the group stage, and Im afraid they will.
on the 3rd October, 2019 at 8:13pm
Typical Conte....his teams can't play twice a week and win. Don't be surprised Interisti for Inter bombing out of CL because when you sign Conte that is expected !! But it's ok, there a competition made just for Inter and that is Europa League where you can watch Juve - Benfica highlights to see what you in for !
on the 3rd October, 2019 at 7:33pm
Conte is doing wonders, the guy is fantastic. As expected, he had a very disciplined and focused team that was never going to leave themselves exposed but I did not expect to see the crisp, fluid and lightning fast counter attacks at this early stage. Bravo Conte, Bravo. It is good to see other Italian teams raise there game.
on the 3rd October, 2019 at 5:35pm
Juve fan here. And although some or many will be happy they failed on the night, I don't care, infact it is a shame they didn't win cos it is great to see we have a real contender emerging in italy to not only push us but also raise the name of Italian football. A few years ago I said it was going to be acm to come back but they have fallen off the cliff big time. Forzajuve, and inter for the good of italy! Hopefully napoli can take note and spend to make the next step up!!
on the 3rd October, 2019 at 5:03pm
Yes it was an impressive performance and it is encouraging but Inter must be able to convert their scoring chances. I counted at least 4 just in the 1st half that they missed. Even converting one of those chances may have sealed the deal for them but this is a work in progress and if they continue to play like they did last night it will be a great year for Inter.
on the 3rd October, 2019 at 4:33pm

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