Sunday September 27 2020
Inter bench to the rescue

Strength in depth made all the difference at San Siro, writes Kaustubh Pandey, as Inter substitutes changed the game against Fiorentina.

There was a brief period in the game on Saturday when Fiorentina would have been feeling like proper European contenders, as they rode on Franck Ribery’s masterclass to go 3-2 up at San Siro. There was this feeling of deja vu creeping in, as La Viola were the only team that Inter had failed to beat last season and it seemed like another one of those days.

Antonio Conte’s usage of the bench changed the game in a single minute, because Radja Nainggolan and Arturo Vidal then controlled the game, Achraf Hakimi added pace from the right and Alexis Sanchez created the two vital openings. Despite the defeat, Fiorentina came away with their heads held high, knowing that in many ways it was a performance which perhaps stands as testimony to their potential European calibre.

There were times when the decision making in the final third was reminiscent of the game against Torino. There were too many needless passes around in the box when a single killer move would've created a chance. Dusan Vlahovic missed a huge chance and if he had scored, Beppe Iachini’s men could've sealed the deal there. And perhaps, that is a cruel lesson that they really need to learn from in the next few matches.

While the midfield looked largely compact and the plan of restricting build-up from central areas worked, they were slow in defensive transitions in three goals. Sofyan Amrabat had an enjoyable debut and he was crucial to adding structure to the midfield, but there was a risk of Inter over running the midfield quickly whenever they got the ball back. The Nerazzurri were regularly pushed wide when they dominated possession and in a way, it shows that Iachini does have a plan for the team.

Questions have been raised about his decision to use the talented Federico Chiesa at right wing-back, but the Inter-linked Italian came up with a vital performance. He made three crucial defensive interceptions and scored a goal as well in a performance to be proud of against a superior outfit.

Ribery, once again, turned the clock back to 2013 and constantly dazzled the Inter backline. He did get a couple of assists and could've had three if Vlahovic had scored, but Iachini’s decision to take him and Chiesa off can be questioned - especially when the substitutions that Inter had made really changed the game.

Pol Lirola isn't quite the player Chiesa is and Patrick Cutrone is more of a grafter than the ball carrier and chance creator that Ribery is from central areas. For a team that was to sit deep and play on the break, taking off two of the three best ball carriers in the team makes little sense. Ribery and Chiesa were both very effective when they broke forward and so was the ever-mercurial Gaetano Castrovilli.

A case can be made that while Inter really got control when they made their five substitutions, La Viola lost their grip on the game when Iachini made substitutions of his own. They didn't quite coincide with how they were set up tactically, when Conte's substitutions made perfect sense. Whether it comes down to the variety of players available to him, an over-reliance on an aged Frenchman will become clearer in the long term.

In his defence, Iachini could easily say that having Erick Pulgar would've added even more structure to the midfield and that is true, considering how the Chilean adds a hardworking attitude to the midfield and could have complemented Amrabat well. But perhaps, it would've made more sense if Iachini had shifted Chiesa's and Ribery's positions and taken the veteran off for Lirola. That would have given Fiorentina some more pace than Cutrone provides.

There's clearly loads of talent in that Fiorentina team and great potential. There are issues to be ironed out, as there's still a pretty young core in there, and that is what Iachini needs to do. On paper, that side seems made to play Europa League football and against Inter, it became clear that it can happen too. But there's work to do and Iachini has detractors to prove wrong as well. The shades of brilliance need to transform into consistent blazes on and off the ball.

Have your say...
inter should forget nangolan,kolakov and other old men in the team,they can not keep pace with the young team when it comes to champions league
on the 29th September, 2020 at 11:26am
Maaan... Regardless of how much I'd love to see Chiesa in Milan, yet, for the sake of my PROFOUND LOVE of Serie A, I'd might wanna see powerful Fiorentina even more! Having such a powerful (as it was till only 10 years ago), is benefitial to everyone! With a financially mighty owner as they have now, potentially new modern stadium, strong LaViola is a necessity to all Serie A lovers.
Maybe, they need Sarri in it, with Jorginho in midfield & one killer striker & it'll happen!
I'd love it!
on the 28th September, 2020 at 7:16pm
Inter really need to sign a substitute keeper. If Handanovic gets injured, inter will be dumped out of the CL having Padelli in goal, and will drop points in Serie A.
on the 28th September, 2020 at 2:06pm
A terrific exciting game by both clubs becomes a sad commentary of discontent by bloggers who not only criticize the writers opinion but each teams coaching philosophy and tactics. Winning the game is paramount to both coaches and the players gave their all to succeed.How they achieve that goal comes from them and their managers not from baseless critics who offer nothing other then nihilistic commentary on tactics and performance. I only offer my gratitude to a great game and a brave writer.
on the 28th September, 2020 at 1:50pm
Inter will never go far with 352 formation,keeping conte was simply a huge mistake Inter management team have made. He obviously blames everybody but not himself. 352 is an old-fashion way to defend and Italian managers have to change their attitude to games,thinking about closing spaces first. With this,I am expecting a boring season a head,and big failure in europe for 352 teams (Inter,Lazio and Atlanta).
on the 28th September, 2020 at 12:37pm
I'm not sure Inter would have won this game if allowed just 3 substitutions, but was great to see Lukaku, Vidal, Sensi and Nainggolan on pitch together. Kolarov will get shredded by top CL clubs.
on the 28th September, 2020 at 6:39am
CLICK BAIT TO THE RESCUE. In the first paragraph it says inter only failed to win against Fiorentina last season. This is the point where I realised the writer is very high on something strong. Then he went on to explain nothing about Inter.Fiorentina did well but are fighting for EL at best while Inter on the other hand on a complete difference path. Every match for Inter is win or go bust and Conte knows any kind of slip up is UNACCEPTABLE.
on the 27th September, 2020 at 10:20pm
I read Fiorentina's portion but I can't find page 2 which it's "supposed" to talk about Inter!! Please put the link!...regardless of this click bait article, kudos to Fiorentina, they gave me almost 3 heart attacks! Ribery still rocks big time, he fully deserved that applaud yesterday.
on the 27th September, 2020 at 8:00pm
Factual GARBAGE under the guise of an article.

Laughable that literal nothing but rehashed nonsense which isn't even fact checked is published in clickbait form.
on the 27th September, 2020 at 5:25pm
This is basically an article on Fiorentina disguised with a headline and cover photo of Inter just to get more clicks. Honestly, how low can you go as a journalist smh.
on the 27th September, 2020 at 2:38pm
Dusan Vlahovic was the real reason Inter won yesterday! Without taking away anything from the Inter bench, Vlahovic was at fault for two of the Inter goals & he could have at least tested the GK when clear on goal instead as if on purpose missed! Still the changes Conte made late on turned the game upside down and the game itself was super exciting to watch! Also i must give credit to Inter as usually they would have lost this type of game!
on the 27th September, 2020 at 1:31pm
Inter failed to beat Juve, Fiorentina, and Roma last season
on the 27th September, 2020 at 12:37pm
When did Inter beat Juventus last season?
Why is this title? There is only one sentence about the Inter subs.
on the 27th September, 2020 at 11:32am
Well done to Fiorentina, they are a good team. However inter are showing the exact thing they lacked last season - a proper bench. When naingollan Vidal sanchez hakimi come into the game fresh in the second half, there was only going to be one result. Last year we would have lost this game for sure. With di vrij coming back, hopefully inters defense will get better next week!
on the 27th September, 2020 at 11:15am
I feel like people didn't talk or realise what Inter did yesterday during the game.I don't know of any team that has that type of bench depth. they fielded Ninja, Vida, Hakimi, Sensi and Sanchez!!it's ridiculous and can ultimately prove how successful they will be this season in Serie A and take advantage of the five subs feature this season to the max.
IF they can keep the squad as is and find some harmony as obviously some big names will be benched I think they will be a serious threat to Juve
on the 27th September, 2020 at 10:21am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.