In the opening fixture for the 2020/21 Serie A season, Inter hosted Fiorentina. The last season runners-up of Serie A narrowly lost out to conventional winners, Juventus, by only one point. Inter are led by the capable Italian coach, who has won the league title three times with Juventus. Antonio Conte aspired to a good start to the season in a journey to compensate for the loss of the league last season, and to achieve the missing a title win for a full decade.
Inter were able to achieve a valuable victory in the last minutes of this match against Fiorentina, with a score of 4-3. It was a good game that held our breath until the last few minutes, which contains many tactical phases, which we will explain in detail in this tactical analysis of the match.
This tactical analysis breaks down the tactics of the match between Inter and Fiorentina. With the use of match footage and data, this analysis unpacks what happened in Inter’s 4-3 win over Fiorentina.
Antonio Conte started the match with his usual 3-4-1-2 formation, with some changes to the main players who started the match. Samir Handanovicis was the goalkeeper, the three centre-backs were Allesandro Bastoni, the left-footed youngster, 21-year-old, Danilo D’Ambrosio and Aleksandar Kolarov. Marcelo Brozovic started as the main defensive midfielder in the side with Nicolo Barella and Christian Eriksen alongside him as the midfield trio in Inter’s 3-5-2. Ashley Young and Ivan Perišić began as wing-backs, Romelu Lukaku ( formerly of EPL side Manchester United) and Lautaro Martinez led the line as the main centre forwards.
On the other hand, the 56-year-old Italian coach Giuseppe Iachini started the match with a squad that did not differ much from Inter line up, 3-5-2 formation. Drągowski started as goalkeeper, Nikola Milenković, Federico Ceccherini and José Martín Cáceres Silva were the three-line defence, Chiesa, Bonaventura, and newcomer Sofiane Amrabat, Castrovilli and Cristiano Biraghi in the midfield, and in the offensive line were the 22-year-old Ivorian Christian Kouamé and the veteran French star Frank Ribéry ( formerly of Bundesliga side Bayern Munich).
Inter’s building up and transitions
When they are in the build phase of their own third, Inter’s players were always dependent on sending long balls through the wing-backs, or sending long balls forward in the sweep between Fiorentina lines that are inconsistent with each other. These are exploited by smart players like Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, as the below map shows the passes of the Inter players in their own third.
Here, for example, Lukaku dropped into the gaps between the midfield and the defensive line. He received a pass in this space, and used it optimally by keeping the ball and then waited for Lautaro Martinez to move into a more dangerous area against Fiorentina. Indeed, Martinez received it, but fell in the penalty area. The referee awarded a penalty kick before VAR intervened to cancel it.
The Antonio Conte system relies heavily on counter-attacks and rapid transitions from defence to attack, which does not require much thought in Inter matches since the Italian coach took over
Conte believes that in order to make the counter-attacks and transitions from defence to attack in the best possible way, they need to get the ball first by winning the duels or effecting pressure on the opponent’s players, then starting the counter-attack through players who are characterised by speed and skill such as Lukaku and Martinez.
Here, for example, is a typical example of this case, when the Inter players got the ball. Barella moved with the ball a great distance and then passed to Martinez in the left half space, so that the 23-year-old Argentine scored a goal in a wonderful way.
Inter attacking structure
Inter’s attacking style relies mainly on the objective rotation between the offensive players Lukaku and Martinez, as well as the speed of the wing-backs on each side, which directly contributed to exposing the Fiorentina players who do not have good monitoring inside the penalty area.
This is clearly shown in the expected goals (xG) report of the match, as it shows the great role played by Lukaku and Martinez in the depth, where the xG ratio in the depth of the field shows 59% of the total xG of the Inter players in the match.
Here is the xG report of the match, which shows the high xG ratio made by the dangerous duo Lukaku and Martinez, where the xG for them together is 1.90 of the total xG of the remaining players, which is 2.64.
The good understanding between the duo contributed greatly to settling the meeting in favour of Inter. When the ball is with one of them in the half spaces, the other player moves deeper to provide an opportunity to pass in more dangerous areas
For example here, when Lukaku moved vertically in the half space, Lautaro went deeper to give the Belgian star a better chance to pass in dangerous areas. Indeed, Lukaku passes the ball to Lautaro, who then won a penalty, which was then overturned by VAR.
Fiorentina building up and defensive style
Fiorentina rely on switching the play on both sides of the field, which they do in order for the opponent’s players to gather on one side and then transfer the play to the other side away from the pressing structures. Often this is done by the veteran French star Ribéry, as the passes map shows the passes of the Fiorentina players.
However, the weak defensive monitoring of the Fiorentina players played a major role in the match’s outcome, and they concededed four goals. This is where Fiorentina’s players suffer, especially from the wing-backs, where Perišić won seven of 13 duels by 64%.
For example, here in this game Martinez managed to win this ball inside the penalty area without real supervision from Fiorentina players until the ball ended in the net by mistake from Ceccherini.
Frank Ribéry’s active role in the match
The 38-year-old French star played an important and effective role in the transfers from defence to attack and also in transitions play to the left side of the field. Ribery made 22 correct passes out of 23 by 96% and succeeded in 50% of dribbles and made two assists.
Here, for example, Ribéry stood on the right side and waited for Castrovilli to arrive. He then passed the ball to him in the half space that was best used and managed to score
Here is another example of Franck Ribéry’s role in switching play on the other side, where he dribbled past the Inter player, then passed the ball on the other side of the pitch to Chiesa, who took a shot, placing it to the right of the goalkeeper.
Inter picked up three very valuable points at the start of the campaign to regain the title. Inter under the leadership of Antonio Conte will not be an easy opponent this season with the new additions.
Inter played a very strong match on the technical and tactical levels and relied on most of the points of the meeting on the duo Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, who played a major role in the outcome of the match, whether with their distinguished moves or scoring three goals.
On the other hand for Fiorentina, Franck Ribery, was brilliant, but the experience and quality of the Inter players made the difference and the match ended in their favour in the last minutes.