Sunday October 25 2020
Can Conte get Inter's right mix?

As Inter dragged themselves past Genoa, it became clear that they have some indispensable players in the squad. Richard Hall asks the question, of whether Antonio Conte knows how to get the right mix, to launch a successful title challenge.

In a night that saw Inter prevail through toil rather than show, Antonio’s Conte’s men picked up another three points in Genoa. It was evident that there were as many positives as there were negatives but even so, they were victorious. What was clear is that there are players in this squad that the Nerazzurri simply cannot be without, if they are to be the best version of themselves. It was these players who made the difference again against the Grifone and will be crucial in the upcoming clash against Shaktar Donetsk on Tuesday.

The most important thing was the three points and secondly the clean sheet but there were negatives in this display that cannot be brushed over. Genoa are not a poor side, they are an inferior one and they are a tired one. On September 27th, the Grifone had announced that 22 positive cases of Covid had been identified amongst players and staff. Whilst they were getting players, back into the squad by late October this still would have taken its toll.

Rolando Maran approached the game with a plan, he wanted to sit back, keep Inter out on the wide areas and counter attack. The counter attacking did not come to pass but the ability to sit deep and infuriate the Nerazzurri worked. He challenged them to come through the middle and despite having Christian Eriksen in the squad, Conte’s men could not break through and were left with an abundance of inconsequential possession out on the flanks. Genoa had no chances but Inter were offering a slow, turgid and insipid display overall.

It was in the second half that Conte decided to change things, Eriksen and Ivan Perisic were brought on and Nicolo Barella and Achraf Hakimi came on. Immediately the difference was felt as their speed and positive running was in evidence. Hakimi has not been at the club long but his pace and power on the right flank is terrifying, it is often hard to establish one’s self in a new league and at an elite club but the Moroccan is instead redefining what it means to be a top class full back. He pulled Genoa out of their formation as all of a sudden, the flanks became a danger zone and this freed up more space in the center.

Freeing up space in the center was exactly what Genoa did not need. Nicolo Barella is improving with every second he spends in Milan and his forceful run and quick passing shocked Genoa. He was like a ballerina with a battering ram and his efforts were rewarded when his assist led to Romelu Lukaku’s superb opening goal. The Belgian once again allowing that he is perhaps the most indispensable out of them all.

Lautaro Martinez would also be classed as one of these players who cannot be missed but he had a poor night and his frustration was evident, however, whilst he was still beating up the Genoa furniture, Danilo D’Ambrosio was wheeling away in celebration. Once again, Barella had a part in it and the full back turned center back showed once again that he is a critical part of this squad.

Things are not perfect at Inter right now and frailties are on show for all to see however, Conte has players who can change games and who are in form. These are the men who should (if he can) be automatically in his first eleven, the men who will and can change games, not just like the one in Genoa but big games also. In the upcoming game against Shakhtar Donetsk, it would be hard to understand why, if they are available, that Lukaku, D’Ambrosio, Hakimi and Barella would not start. Include Martinez in this also, as despite a poor performance he is still certainly classed as one of Conte’s indispensable men.

The argument about Conte’s Inter certainly surrounds this rotation issue that is thrust on everyone due to the pandemic. When Inter are at full strength, when they have the full quota and they play these players who can change games, they look like title contenders. The issue is when the second string come in they can look stale and sluggish. The challenge for Conte still is how to get the right blend of the two to fulfil his Scudetto ambitions this season.



Have your say...
IMO Inter's problem was never at the back - they had the best defence last season. The problem is upfront. As some have commented, they are over-reliant on Lukaku and Martinez, which is a problem. When a team is able to restrict both players, there is no plan B (Sanchez doesn't have anywhere near the same impact and Perisic is played out of position). Inter could do with a clinical finisher - like Icardi but with less drama - that can come off the bench and score as needed.
on the 27th October, 2020 at 11:42am
I don't think losing Lukaku will be a disaster for Inter. I agree it will impact the attacking force but Inter have Sanchez and Lautaro. We saw them play together last season and Conte use different approach. Well, if 2 out of Lukaku, Sanchez, and Lautaro missing, I can sense disaster because Pinamonti is not ready at all.
on the 27th October, 2020 at 4:24am
inter will not have lukaku available every game this season. But inter will continue to create chances regardless, it will be up to his subs, pinamonti, sanchez, Perisic all capable of filling this role. Inter will also probably look for another backup option in jan if possible. Someone like dzeko or giroud would have been perfect cheap options from the bench. We also have lautaro who will shine. Hes young and still developing but also just as good when he is switched on!
on the 27th October, 2020 at 3:12am
@ryo - lukaku is an important part of the team, but the chances would still be created and goals will still be scored. Inter has already been heavily affected by covid absences. As important as Lukaku is down the attacking end, losing both Bastoni and Skriniar at the same time is just as bad if not worse. Inter has the reigning best defence in italy and look how many goals we have conceded because of absentees. Half of inters goals against this season wouldnt have happened without playrs missing
on the 26th October, 2020 at 10:27pm
@interista - haha i agree with Viktor - absolute control? What are you smoking??? Yes Inter were the better team and a draw would have been the fair result however you couldnt score from the chances you made and that means you didn't win!!!
on the 26th October, 2020 at 10:18pm
Truth be told, Inter are a couple players short of a disaster. Milan Lost Ibra and Juve lost Ronaldo to Covid. What would happen if Inter lost Lukaku? Would someone be able to step up? Or would they completely collapse? To be Lukaku is basically indispensable to the team right now. Him and Hakimi.
on the 26th October, 2020 at 4:39pm
Don't get big headed just for your 1st derby win in the league for 4 years. Inter didn't deserve 3 points with that kind of defensive mistakes, but we did dominate the game. Inter had more scoring chances, more shots, and more ball possession.

Back to the topic, the lesson learned are Broz & Eriksen shouldn't play together, Kolarov should only play LCB against bottom half teams. If Bastoni is not available, then move DeVrij or D'ambro to the left, Rano/Skriniar can play at the center
on the 26th October, 2020 at 11:52am
Kolarov is a bag of. Getting rid of Godin was inters biggest mistake. Ranocchia did well tbf the weekend, I would give him more a chance than Kolarov, although he has a mistake in him too.

Barella needs to play every game.

Defence is worrying. Although I would like to see Bastoni, skrin and de Vrij as a back 3 and see how we play. Young to come back too, him and hikimi on the flanks will be exciting.

Hopefully defence and system comes good.

Let’s smash Shakhtar!!
on the 26th October, 2020 at 11:18am
@Interista "! Milan game an absolute perfect example, can onceded a stupid penalty then terrible defending, then spend the rest of the game in absolute control but couldnt put away 2-3 very easy chances"

AHAHHA "ABSOLUTE CONTROL" hahahah, yeah buddy you were in absolute control. 
on the 26th October, 2020 at 7:29am
Yes inter were stronger when Hakimi, Barella etc. came on, but thats the benefit of having a strong bench. From the first minute, a team is going to be switched on and full of energy to defend. However when inter has a bench so strong they can bring on players who would start anywhere else, who will be playing against tired legs, of course the game changes again! No team is going to be able to hold us out for a full 90 minutes, its up to inter to take advantage of the chances as they come.
on the 26th October, 2020 at 12:11am
Inter need luck lol lautaro hits the post with a great volley, hits a defenders arm, could of been a pen, instead isnt called, ball goes down the other end and results in a goal that looks offside, game of millimeters!! Not to mention Hakimi ruled out for COVID hours before game, only to be a mistake. Other COVID cases occurring. Players should be coming back over the next week or so. Lets see what Conte can do with a full team before judging him
on the 26th October, 2020 at 12:05am
We also have created an absolute ton of chances recently, we have quality attacking players, but we must start putting more away! Milan game an absolute perfect example, conceded a stupid penalty then terrible defending, then spend the rest of the game in absolute control but couldnt put away 2-3 very easy chances. Hakimi missed header will go down as the easiest miss all year.
on the 26th October, 2020 at 12:00am
@baggio - we had the best defence in italy last year with 3 at the back. If this was De Vrij, skriniar and bastoni conceding I would be more concerned! We need another quality CB in jan but can manage til then. Hakimi is the perfect wing back, really we just need to find another good option for the other side and we should be good! Vidal had a shocker in the CL but either him or naingollan (finally got back on the pitch and looked good!) can sit in front of the defence
on the 25th October, 2020 at 11:57pm
Just play 4 in the back..its that simple. We don't have the quality defenders to play with 3. Prove me wrong
on the 25th October, 2020 at 10:19pm
Inter is yet to play with a full strength team. Maybe wait until then? We played with half a squad against milan and were the much better team, dominated in the CL game, when conte has a full team, then possibly judge. All goals conceded lately have been easy to avoid. Kolarov is not good enough to start as a CB, but he played better as a wingback. Darmian showed he was more than capable too! Perisic experiment needs to end, keep him as a back up forward.
on the 25th October, 2020 at 10:15pm
I think things are quite easy to figure how to set up this Inter, if Conte wouldn't be so stubborn.
1- Play the 3-5-2 with a regista that should be Eriksen rather than with an CAM, let Vidal and Barella be the box-to-box either side of him.
2- Play the 4-3-1-2 with Kolarov and Hakimi as attacking wing backs, Vidal-Gaglia/Brozo-Barella covering for them, Sanchez as the one playing behind the 2 strikers, as his trickery makes him better for that role than Eriksen, who will be his back up.
on the 25th October, 2020 at 7:18pm

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