This was an important game for both managers, Juventus were looking to maintain their excellent start to the season and climb to the top of Serie A while Inter who are already onto their second manager or the season were in desperate need of 3 points to help kick start their stuttering season and prevent Inter from being dragged into an unthinkable relegation fight.
Being the home team and in need of the win the most, Ranieri went for a more attacking midfield picking the attacking talents of Obi over the more pragmatic Stankovic. While Inter lined up in the typical 4-3-1-2 formation with Sneijder sitting in the hole, when in possession Inter looked to stretch Juventus and pin back the attacking threats of Pepe and Vucinic with Zanetti and Obi both pulling out as orthodox wingers supported by Nagatomo and Maicon who pushed forward for the overlap as we see the modern full back do.
Unlike at home to Fiorientina during the week, Conte set up Juventus with a slight more defensive 4-2-3-1 as opposed to the attacking 4-2-4. As the game went on Pepe and Vucinic were both required to play as orthodox wingers to track the runs of the Inter fullbacks to support Chiellini and Lichtsteiner making Juventus 4-4-1-1 when in defence. This left Matri as the lone striker who was more often than not support by the tireless Marchisio who provided the link from midfield.
Inter’s All Out Attack
Considering the atmosphere and importance of the ‘Derby
d’Italia’ both teams looked incredibly comfortable on the ball. Even with both teams looking to pressurise
the ball and reduce the space for each other to play in the first thought was always to pass rather than panic. Juventus started quickly attacking down the right in the first minute but it was Inter who dominated possession in the opening 10 minutes. Ranieri must be commended for the bravery of his tactics in the first half which saw his teams shape move to an attacking 2-3-3-2 with Zanetti and Obi providing width depending which side Inter were attacking down with the full backs acting as a second winger on the overlap. While initially the attacks came down Juve’s right hand side with Cambiasso sweeping the ball the ball to Obi, most of Inter’s success came through the combined
brilliance of Zanetti and Maicon. One thing you do have to admire is the speed that Zanetti has managed to maintain even at the age of 38 and again he made some mesmerising dribbles against a defensively poor Chiellini and Pepe.
While Inter had most of the possession and territory in the opening 10 minutes, outside of Cambiasso’s wasted chance from a Sneijder free kick Inter struggled to create any clear cut chances. The key issue was the inability to displace defenders from key areas .This was down the attacking formation form Ranieri. While Inter had large numbers of players forward by having two centre forward the space for late runs into the box is reduced. Ranieri would do well to learn from Roberto Manchini’s Manchester City, who play a similar system to Inter, but use the full backs as wingers allowing the wide players to play a free role to occupy positions in the middle of the park. This allows City to stay solid in the middle whilst also being able to have interchange (pardon the pun) between the likes of Silva, Aguero and Dzeko. Instead the attacking play down the wings while fast was too predictable for the Juventus defenders to deal with as a result it was easy for Juventus to clear their lines from defence.
Juve’s Counter Attack
As discussed Inter when in possession were brave in committing players forward, however this left their defence widely exposed. With Juventus having Pirlo and Vidal sitting deep in the centre of midfield against the lonely Cambiasso it was too easy for Juventus counter through the middle. Cambiasso was often out of position as a result and with no one to cover, Inter left wide spaces between the midfield and defence.
As seen in the diagramme below Cambiasso found himself ahead of Pirlo and Vidal to support the attack with only the left back Nagatomo providing any sort of cover to close Vidal. With both full backs supporting the attack this left a 2 v 1 situation between Lucio, Chivu and Matri. While Inter had the numerical advantage Matri is an expert at running on the blind side of defenders to create space.
When the Juventus defence won the ball the first aim was to find Pirlo or Vidal to enable the team to play out from defence. As soon as either was in possession the brilliant Marchisio would begin his run from left to right into the open space with Matri making the opposite run from right to left stretching the two defenders. With Maicon in no man’s land and Marchisio unchallenged Marchisio was able to play a ball between the defenders for Matri to shoot. Juventus should have scored twice through this move but for some wasteful shooting, however the warning signs were there.
Juventus’ 4 man midfield vs. Inter’s 3
The biggest miss match of the game and ultimately the downfall of Inter was the numerical advantage Juve had in midfield. Inter went with three centre midfielders to
accommodate Sneijder, as a result they were always struggling to maintain Juventus’s 4 with Pirlo finding space to pull the strings particularly from the 30th minute where Juventus dominated. Juventus’s first goal was best the example of this. As shown against Fiorentina Lichtsteiner acts as a wing back providing width on the right which allowed Pepe to tuck inside. With Obi having to tuck in to mark Pepe this leaves the space for Lichtsteiner to exploit form deep. This space should of been marked by Nagatomo who had tucked in with the other back 3 to mark the solitary Matri rather than moving out to the left to reduce the space for the wide ball.
Due to Sneijder’s reluctance to mark Pirlo, the play maker had the space to pull the strings linking again with Vidal to switch the ball wide for Lichtsteiner to play a low cross for Matri who shot against Castellazzi only for Vucinic to drive the rebound into the top of the net.
Ranieri’s Poor Decisions Making
The second half didn’t have the same excitement as the first partly due to Juventus being happy to pull 11 men behind the ball, but mainly due to the tactical decisions by Ranieri. The first mistake was switching Zarate for Castaignos who provided no
attacking threat. The second was introduction of Stankovic for Obi who again
provided no forward penetration and sat deep alongside Cambiasso (which they
needed in the first half). Added to this Zanetti appeared to stop making wide runs meaning Maicon was up against Chiellini and Vucinic by himself. This resulted in Inter basically playing direct ball to Pazzini, who did look excellent, which was easy for Bonucci and Barzagli to deal with. Juventus still had chances to go further ahead on the break with Del Piero who scuffed a shot wide and Estigarribia who ran clear but couldn’t convert.
Inter still don’t look settled and need to get back to basic’s before trying to be so expansive in attack. Ranieri has to decide how he’s going to play Sneijder and whether he can afford to play 2 strikers and a player in the whole. Conte can be very happy with his side’s
performance but there are defensive issues on the left which need to be looked at if Juventus are to mount a serious title challenge.
The key players for Juventus today were Vidal who works tirelessly for the team and is the perfect foil for Pirlo. The other key player is Marchisio who is vital to the way Conte plays whether in a 4-2-4pullign of the front line or in a counter attacking 4-4-1-1 being the link between the midfield and Matri.