Wednesday afternoon featured an interesting game in the Serie A, with an impressive looking Hellas Verona coming up against an Inter Milan finding themselves in a solid run of form following their recent and disappointing Champions League exit. Hellas Verona have enjoyed a solid season so far under Ivan Jurić’s guidance, currently occupying 9th place in the table and finding results recently in big games against Atalanta and Lazio. They are hoping this impressive form will drive them towards the European places when the teams return in the new year for the rest of the 2020/21 Serie A season.
As stated before, Antonio Conte’s Inter have continued to show decent form in the league, losing only once and winning their last seven. They have also scored a league high 34 goals and are only second to a mightily impressive AC Milan, figure headed by Stefano Pioli. They continue to stay a point behind their rivals and San Siro sharers. However, Inter have shown poor form once again in the Champions League, finishing fourth in the group, meaning increased pressure is on Conte to focus his side on their league form and challenge for the title, particularly due to Juventus’s stalling season under new manager, Andrea Pirlo.
In this tactical analysis, I will look to analyse the tactics of both Jurić’s Verona and Conte’s Inter and where and why Inter eventually came out on top as 2-1 winners, in an interesting match tactically and one in which defensive instability was highlighted. Verona were hoping for an impressive result in this game to end this year on an even greater high, whilst Inter were looking to ensure continued positive results to keep the pressure up on city rivals Milan.
Hellas Verona (3-4-2-1) – Marco Silvestri: Federico Ceccherini, Giangiacomo Magnani, Paweł Dawidowicz: Federico Dimarco, Miguel Veloso, Adrien Tameze, Davide Faraoni: Mattia Zaccagni, Ebrima Colley: Eddie Salcedo
Verona continued with their usual 3-4-2-1 system, looking to create an interesting tactical match up with Conte’s renowned 3 at the back tactical system. Verona picked an XI filled with regulars such as ex-Inter player Federico Dimarco, Adrien Tameze and Federico Ceccherini, and looked for a consistent line-up with high morale and commitment to their tactical system to inspire a surprise result. Eddie Salcedo was allowed to start against his parent club.
Inter Milan (3-4-2-1) – Samir Handanović: Milan Škriniar, Stefan de Vrij, Alessandro Bastoni: Ashley Young, Nicolò Barella, Marcelo Brozović, Achraf Hakimi: Ivan Perišić, Lautaro Martínez: Romelu Lukaku
Conte continues to select a relatively consistent XI, with Hakimi continuing to impress on the right of his tactical system. Interestingly for this game, Conte slightly altered his tactics, switching to a 3-4-2-1, largely in order to counter act the opposition’s similar 3-4-2-1 system. Conte did this also knowing it did not sway very far away from his typical 3-5-2, or the 3-4-1-2 he has used a few times this season. Martínez and Lukaku continue to form an impressive partnership up front, but were joined by Ivan Perišić in this game. Perišić however, did not have a good game, whilst Lukaku struggled to find his footing in the tie.
Verona’s intensity and high press leaves gaps
Jurić’s Verona have become known for implementing an intense and high press system which puts pressure on its opposition to make mistakes, allowing Verona to counter in numbers and create a numerical overload, in an attempt to find a decent effort on goal. Whilst this has been very effective for Verona of late, this press does leave several gaps, particularly in between defence and midfield, as you can see in the below images.
As you can see, one lethargic pass by a Verona player is quickly mopped up by an Inter player, who then counters at pace, showcasing a concerning gap in Verona’s system, with just one Verona player behind the ball, and several now having to play catch up to stop Inter capitalising on a great counter attacking opportunity. Verona will need to figure out a way of rectifying this for future important fixtures.
Defensive lapses in concentration
Unfortunately, Inter did not have a particularly solid game defensively at times, being caught a few too many times ball watching or reacting too slowly to a developing opportunity for Verona. In the below figure, we can see these lapses in concentration very clearly. Whilst Škriniar eventually recovered from this setback and put in a strong performance, even scoring his sides winner, he did not react quickly enough to prevent Verona’s goal.
As you can see in the figures, Handanović palms the ball out tamely to Škriniar, who then does not react quickly enough to this mistake from Handanović, allowing Ilic to sneak in from behind and smash the ball home. Handanović’s unusually poor decision-making in this moment and Škriniar’s lack of awareness were unusual for both players, but something they can’t let happen again going into the rest of the congested Serie A season.
Another example of the Inter players not quite focusing on the defensive duties correctly is seen in this decent opportunity for Verona, with a few players caught ball watching, allowing Verona to sneak through and get a decent opportunity on goal. As you can see in the below figure, Dimarco makes a strong bursting run and whilst he is tracked briefly by Brozović, when his attention is turned to another player, who Inter are looking to overwhelm in order to block out the pass, he allows a solid run to be made by Dimarco, and the Inter players don’t do a great job in covering their teammates and tracking this developing run into the box.
Attacking impetus slightly missing from Inter
Inter were not quite in as potent an attacking form in this game, with Martínez still performing admirably, but Lukaku struggled to make inroads in the game. Ivan Perišić also struggled on his return to the XI. The first half was a particularly lethargic display from both sides, but they came out strongly in the second. However, Lukaku was still getting himself in good positions in this game, as seen in the below figures.
Lukaku makes a fantastic attacking run on an Inter counter, pointing out to his teammate where he would like the ball as well. Unfortunately, he doesn’t quite reach the ball in time, with neither particularly at fault for this missed opportunity. Lukaku will hope this was just one of those games and return to his fine form coming into 2021.
Verona and Inter will both come out of this game with a variety of positives and negatives. Whilst both made glaring defensive mistakes in this game, what decided this game was that additional quality in the final third for Inter, with Lautaro Martínez continuing to impress up front alongside Lukaku. Handanović had an unusually poor game and will look to improve his form in 2021 as club captain, going into a highly important period in which Inter need to put their complete focus on their league form, as they hope the imperious Milan begin to drop off in form.
Verona, on the other hand, have performed well under Jurić for a while now, and continue to achieve beyond what is expected from them. Whilst this game ended in defeat, Jurić will find plenty of positives in this performance and their most recent performances, and as stated previously will look to use these positive results to push his side further and further up the league table.