Saturday January 11 2020
Conte and Gasperini tactical duel

Antonio Conte and Gian Piero Gasperini go head-to-head this evening in a battle of contrasting and yet similar tactical approaches, writes Kaustubh Pandey.

Inter and Atalanta share some similarities under Antonio Conte and Gian Piero Gasperini, but also have two distinct styles. It will be a game of two differing ideologies and approaches to the same sport, trying to impose their will on the other.

La Dea sometimes couldn't care less about defending. They've scored the most goals in Serie A this season, finding the back of the net 48 times. They've exceeded their XG by 5.65. Even if they hadn't exceeded their XG, Gian Piero Gasperini’s men would've still scored more goals than anyone else in the division.

Antonio Conte’s men represent the other side of the coin. The Nerazzurri have let in the fewest Serie A goals, just 15, with Stefan de Vrij probably being their best defender this season. Even by XA, Inter should be letting in the least number of goals in the division. That is very much poles apart, when it comes to comparisons with Atalanta.

Gasperini was famously sacked just five games into his 2011 Inter tenure, with then-President Massimo Moratti stating a three-man defence wasn’t in the nature of this club. It must therefore be somewhat pleasing for Gasp to see them make their best Scudetto challenge since that era while using three at the back.

Both these coaches have been using variations of 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 for many years now, honing it over time at their clubs and in Conte’s case country.

With a target man and a workhorse striker upfront in Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, Inter rely incredibly on the both of them for goals. But the Nerazzurri go direct to the duo, helping them to combine. It is usually an outball from the wing-back areas that finds one of the front two. That happens quickly and Inter take little time to make this attacking transition happen.

This made Inter the side with the eighth highest amount of average possession per game - 52.6. It is less than Milan, Sassuolo and even Bologna. They've played an average of 503.7 passes per game, the fifth highest in the division.

As for La Dea, the absence of Duvan Zapata hasn't had that much impact on them. The combination and movement of their front three leaves the opposition rattled.

Papu Gomez, Josip Ilicic, Luis Muriel and Ruslan Malinovskyi have stepped up in the absence of Zapata. Robin Gosens and Mario Pasalic have chipped in too, contributing to nine and seven goals respectively.

The Bergamo side boast the fourth-highest average possession per game, 54.8 percent. They have played more average passes than Inter, but Gasperini's men are less adept at long balls up the field. Inter have played 33.9 successful long balls per game. Atalanta stand at 28.4 and have played more inaccurate long balls per game than the Nerazzurri.

But their tendency to keep the ball on the ground and keep pressing forward with it has become their identity. That's why they've played more successful short passes than Inter, 395.7.

But one thing that sets Inter and Atalanta at the same level is their set piece taking ability. La Dea have scored six goals from set pieces, finding the net with four penalties. But Inter are at another level in that regard. Conte's men rely a lot more on deadball situations, scoring from seven set pieces and six spot-kicks.

That probably comes from Inter coming up with 3.8 successful corners per game, with Atalanta's numbers at 2.7. That explains why Atalanta have scored 35 goals from open play, more than anyone else in Serie A. They rely more on keeping the ball than anything else and the side thrives on it.

Atalanta have scored over two goals or more per game in every clash bar four. The fact that Inter have scored two goals or more only six times says a lot about their differences. One loves to score and outscore teams. The other focuses on scoring and not letting the opposition score.

And when they lock horns tonight, it will be a fascinating encounter. It will be a battle of sides with a mission to prove the supremacy of their style. But whoever wins, both have already made a name for themselves playing their own ways. That just makes them unique.

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Have your say...
Conte's main emphasis is on hard work and not enough on tactics. He asks a hell of a lot from his strikers and inevitably they lose their sharpness in front of the goal. This has become a pattern with Inter now. They play well for the first 60 mins or so and then they start to tire out. Most of his post match tactical evaluations end up with the same conclusion...."We need to work harder". He will never hack it in Europe. His style of football is not modern enough.
on the 14th January, 2020 at 1:47pm
@ Anonymous

...And you still haven't figured out how to give yourself a nickname.

If you're only lacking inspiration, here are some great options for you:

"Black, Blue and Blind!"
"Conte's Wig Hairdresser"

This two are longer, but still cool:
"We have two players injured --WHAAAAHH"
"Palomino Straight Red All Day Long"

"United States of Botty" is also free, as that's not my nick ;)
on the 13th January, 2020 at 7:29pm
Once again, Conte goes into a defensive posture after scoring the first goal, this time in the 3rd minute and at home, essentially conceding all the momentum to Atalanta who inevitably tied and could have easily won. He has consistently done this all season and its the main reason Inter are out of the Champions League. Trying to sit on a lead from the third minute is INSANE! It's also an archaic old Italian strategy that the world long ago figured out how to defeat.
on the 13th January, 2020 at 3:36pm
Conte has always been a conservative tactician, relying on defense first. This man has 4 championships and knows how to win, at times his team can be boring to watch,he loves a tight defensive battle.
Gasperini loves the attack, believes the best defense is an aggresive offense, the beauty of both types of play make the games so interesting.
Can either team or Lazio wrest the Scudetto from Juve?,a team that also knows how to win.
Only great confidence and belief will win the trophy this season
on the 13th January, 2020 at 3:30pm
Anyone who doesn't take Atalanta seriously atm are in for a rude suprise. The thing that annoys me bout Atalanta tho is they hardly field Italian players anymore that really sucks!!
on the 13th January, 2020 at 9:09am
@ USA of Botty - You have discovered cut and paste - well done!!!!!
on the 13th January, 2020 at 6:06am
Dtooth. The guy fouled Laturo first. Have a look.
on the 13th January, 2020 at 6:05am
What are you implying? That Inter was unlucky & should have won yesterday??

Ref and luck saved YOU.
It wasn't other way around!

And Conte again complained.
Yeah, you drew because you don't have 50+ superstar players on bench, poor Inter...

How may options does Atalanta have?
Roma? Lazio?
Did you play Juve yesterday???

--It just shows how likable your coach & your fans are!!!
on the 12th January, 2020 at 6:43pm
How anyone can criticise Inter after they're on track for their best season in a decade is anyone's guess. Playing well or not, it's results that count.
on the 12th January, 2020 at 6:35pm
OMG Anonymous,

For those who don't know what Anonym is talking about; Palomino's yellow happened in 42nd minute... RIGHT AFTER ATALANTA WAS DENIED A CRYSTAL CLEAR PENALTY!!!

That wasn't a red!

Now Anonym, go watch Napoli-Inter game.
81st minute Sensi elbowing Allan.
61st minute Barella, as you put it, "attempting to injure" Allan.
By your math these two should have been reds as well, no?
Allan was also injured prior!
on the 12th January, 2020 at 6:25pm
@Anon. Still the same narcissistic tunnel vision. No mention Martinez foul that should have been a pen. Just keep banging the Inter is a victim drum. Targeting a danger player is a basic tactic any coach worth his/her salt would cover. I don't condone fouls by either side. Just the more obvious bad refereeing compounded by the failed VAR review is the Martinez ankle grab doesn't get a mention by you?
on the 12th January, 2020 at 4:23pm
Dtooth. Where did I say any of that? The tackle seemed to me that he was deliberately target - no attempt to get the ball. Straight red all day long. We are talking about a kid who has been out for 3 months and just back. Do you condone targeting players because they are danger men as Ronaldo was? Also, get a grip man, bad results. Top of league, half season gone, just lost once.
on the 12th January, 2020 at 11:10am
@Anon. Typical Interista, only counting red cards opponents should've got. Yet again trying mask lack of results on bad refereeing. Especially when Martinez should be missing at least the next game. Typically hypocritical.
on the 12th January, 2020 at 10:02am
How was it not a straight red for the tackle from behind on Sensi? A deliberate attempt to injure a player just back from injury, and oh yeah. Possession does not win games, how naive to think it does - only goals win games. Good game nonetheless.
on the 12th January, 2020 at 6:17am
Having watched the game as an Inter fan I have to say a point was the least Atalanta deserved. A truly pathetic performance from Inter. Just sat and did nothing after opening the scoring. Camped in their own final third like they were away to Liverpool or Barca. I'd rather they'd taken the game to Atalanta and lost than that. Pathetic!
on the 11th January, 2020 at 11:35pm

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