BLOG ITALIA
Wednesday July 29 2020
Bastoni the best man for Conte's Inter

Inter kept a third consecutive clean sheet and Alessandro Bastoni confirmed he’s the ideal defender for Antonio Conte, writes Kaustubh Pandey.

Inter’s 2-0 win over Napoli on Tuesday wasn’t exactly the most entertaining or thrilling game in Serie A this season. It was a clash involving a club that has lost out on the purpose of winning the Scudetto and a side that has qualified for Europa League football anyway. But the game was perhaps a reminder of how good Alessandro Bastoni can be for Inter and Antonio Conte’s system. And the performance came in the absence of Milan Skriniar, who was rested on the night despite all the speculation surrounding the Slovakian.

It was further proof of just how perfectly Bastoni fits Inter’s play and understands Conte’s 3-5-2 system in a much better way than Skriniar and even Diego Godin. At only 21, he comes across as an individual who is very reliable on the ball and while he’s had some unimpressive games post-lockdown, that is perhaps true for the other Nerazzurri defenders as well. Even though Stefan de Vrij has arguably been the best defender in Serie A this season, Bastoni has really grown in stature.

Inter had signed the young defender for a fee as high as €31m in the summer of 2017 and he was immediately loaned back to Atalanta. In the summer of 2018, another loan spell followed and he was sent to Roberto D’Aversa’s Parma this time around. At both the clubs, the Italian acquired vital experience of playing in a three at the back system and that has clearly come in handy this season, as Conte has shown he trusts Bastoni for his system far more than Godin or Skriniar.

Bastoni’s first appearance under Conte didn’t come straight away. He had to wait for it, as Conte initially tried to see how the pairing of De Vrij, Godin and Skriniar would work out. He even had Danilo D’Ambrosio and the rarely seen Andrea Ranocchia feature in some games early on. While D’Ambrosio did a fair job and even got an assist against Lazio, Ranocchia was perhaps meant to be a mere back-up. Bastoni’s Serie A debut for Inter came against Sampdoria and the game saw Conte drop Godin and inevitably, the young Italian impressed and it took off from there.

Bastoni didn’t play even once in the Champions League as the Nerazzurri were knocked out of the competition in the group stages. And an argument can be made that things might have been a bit different if the former Atalanta man played in those games, considering how he’s much more comfortable playing in a 3-5-2 shape.

In more recent outings, Conte has relied on an approach which sees the wide centre-back create overloads on the flanks. This follows a pattern that is similar to Atalanta or Sheffield United in the Premier League. The idea is to have a numerical advantage in the important positions on the pitch and perhaps, increase the goal output as well. That is another thing that has played into Bastoni’s hands. Even against Napoli, he was encouraged to venture forward and often act as a left-back in some passages of play. And Bastoni didn’t let anyone down.

The 21-year-old has this dynamism about him - on and off the ball, which isn’t found in Skriniar or Godin. They are reliable at playing out from the back like Bastoni is, but they get found out whenever Inter lose the ball and the opposition attack. Bastoni knows exactly where he needs to be as the system demands the wide centre-backs to cover up in wide areas whenever the wing-backs zoom forward. Bastoni understands this and Conte has realised the value he brings to the table too.

This summer could see Inter undergo a defensive makeover. Marash Kumbulla continues to get linked, as Lazio have failed to meet Verona’s asking price for the youngster and he, like Bastoni, knows how to play in a 3-5-2. Skriniar and Godin don’t though and with Conte potentially looking for an assured guarantee, it is understandable why the duo might be on their way out.

This season may not have been one where Inter lived up to the hype of challenging for the Scudetto, but Conte wants to have a team that just gets his style of play more than the current team do. The big-name signings suggest that they are desperate to challenge for the title, but no matter how many big names like Romelu Lukaku, Christian Eriksen or Achraf Hakimi they get, a player like Bastoni will set the tone at the back.

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Have your say...
SackSarri are you blind. You dont even watch Inter so keep quiet and worry about next year when Juve finish 2nd or 3rd.
on the 7th August, 2020 at 5:13pm
Regarding conte, all these negative comments are coming from clueless non-inter fans. Inter’s conte are the best since mourinho. This is a transition year, new coach, move from 4 to 3 at the back, replacing icardi & perisic, etc. Conte has done wonders. We did challenge for scudetto, only 4 points behind Juve. We always finished >15 points below juve previously. I just wish he’ll be more flexible with his tactic. It’s true conte whines a lot, imo that’s a sign of winner, just like Mou before him
on the 30th July, 2020 at 1:29pm
Inter of all teams stockpiling the best italian talent... oh the irony. Bastoni with Romagnoli as the future of italy defence, they have barella, wish we could have signed him!! sensi needs to get his body right, but if he does, italy will have the strongest midfield in the world for years to come. Not sold on Tonali but those close to him rave on! Esposito and Pirola are very young but are superstars on football manager, hopefully for the sake of italy they boom too
on the 30th July, 2020 at 5:23am
very exciting youngster, has come on in leaps and bounds this year! He is good at dribbling past players, rock solid at the back and loves the badge. He is also very suited to 3 at the back, perfect for conte. Inter have an array of exciting young talent, future looking very bright for inter indeed.
on the 30th July, 2020 at 12:28am
in the last 11 games with 5 of them having one less day of rest inter averages 2.6 points per game...in the 6 games with regular rest Inter averages 1.5 points per game.......why complain about rest if you play better with less rest ? instead of complaining he should be thankful for less rest otherwise Inter would have definitely finished 4th
on the 29th July, 2020 at 9:32pm
It’s still early, just turns 21 this year, but Bastoni is your new breed of CB in modern game, where being defender is not all about marking and stopping the attacker. He’s not afraid to make forward run, calm with his passing when under pressure, and even scoring goals himself. He’s just like typical Atalanta’s CB. These traits make Inter play more attacking, more aggresive, compare to if either godin/skriniar is playing. They’re both great defender ofc, but don’t offer much in build up play.
on the 29th July, 2020 at 6:14pm
Look at all these negativeness toward Conte, Inter and now Bastoni. Bunch of haters, love that though! Like it or not, Conte speaks his mind, like Mou. Whatever Conte says, it's been considered complain. It's like all other coaches speaks only words of wisdoms! How about Sarri??! Get over it, it's his personality. Don't like it? don't read or listen, it's that simple! And Bastoni has developed very well so far and guess what? Conte implemented him in 1st team, how atrocious!!
on the 29th July, 2020 at 3:12pm
Conte has got a good, if not extraordinary, foundation of players in key positions. His positive, adventurous style in certain phases of play is what Inter should do more of rather than retreating. I have only seen little of Bastoni but he can be really good driving force on his day. Conte must have a plan B though, and stop whinging so much - he's already at it even before Europa league has resumed.
on the 29th July, 2020 at 2:53pm
I would say Bastoni is definitely a worthy investment of time but I worry that Conte wants more of an immediate turnover as opposed to a 3-4 year development plan. Inter aren't exactly known for their use of Italian youth within my years of following Italian football, but I hope in this case they will make an exception.
on the 29th July, 2020 at 2:38pm
I read that Conte is now complaining that other European teams have had more time to recover.. but if it was the other way around he would be complaining about a lack of game time. I've never been a fan of Conte and how he conducts himself, he's a spoiled brat of a coach if you ask me. It's time he stopped making excuses and gave Inter something to show for all of his complaining.
on the 29th July, 2020 at 1:42pm
Conte, already making excuses about how clubs from other leagues have had more time to recover for the EL. Getting ready for that Getafe knockout.
on the 29th July, 2020 at 12:48pm
Doing quite well for a youngster, but hasn't proved himself yet. He's a bit cumbersome and a top-class, nippy forward could cause him real problems.

The elite strikers in the CL await next season, and that'll be the real test, not Serie A.

But he's been a bonus this season, especially given Godin's struggles.
on the 29th July, 2020 at 12:21pm
What a great find he's been this season for Inter and Italy in the longer term. Assured on the ball, tall and elegant he has a lot of potential. He could do with being a bit more aggressive at times but that's really nit picking and isn't a major issue. My only concern is he will become a specialist LCB in a 3 man defence so if he ever plays for Italy or another coach/team in a back 4 will he be able to adapt? If he can he may well become the next great Italian defender
on the 29th July, 2020 at 11:27am
U r kidding. He played badly in important games. Actually all Inter’s Italian players r disappointing, especially Barella and Sensi. Their performance runs downhill.
on the 29th July, 2020 at 11:25am
Bastoni has enormous potential and will be vital for both Inter and Italy.
on the 29th July, 2020 at 11:21am

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