Inter Milan‘s 3-5-2 system under the leadership of the 51-year-old Italian coach Antonio Conte depends on the attacking duo Romelu Lukaku ( formerly of EPL side Manchester United) and young Argentine striker Lautaro Martinez. Antonio Conte was able to make the most out of this double, as the duo scored 37 goals last season, with 23 goals for the Belgian becoming the third-goal scorer for Serie A 2019/20 and 14 goals by Martinez.
With the start of the current season of Serie A, the stars of both strikers continued to shine alongside each other as the main attacking duo in Conte’s form for this season.
In this tactical analysis scout report we will take an in-depth look at Lukaku and Martinez and their performance. This analysis will delve into the dynamics between the attacking duo and the extent to which this distinguished partnership has benefited from each other with the help of Conte’s new system and tactics.
Inter Milan’s structure
In Conte’s usual 3-4-1-2 formation, Samir Handanovič is the goalkeeper as he is by far the best goalkeeper at the club, the three centre-backs are Allesandro Bastoni, the left-footed youngster, 21-year-old, Danilo D’Ambrosio and Aleksandar Kolarov.
Marcelo Brozović is the main defensive midfielder in the side with Nicolò Barella and Christian Eriksen (Arturo Vidal) alongside him as the midfield trio in Inter’s 3-4-1-2, Ashley Young (Ashraf Hakimi) and Ivan Perišic are the wing-backs, Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martínez always led the line as the main center-forwards.
Since the entering of Martinez as the second striker alongside Lukaku, this has been a powerful force for the team, in addition to the great results achieved by them last season, this season it seems that they are ready to lead Inter to the title challenge this season.
In the opening game against Fiorentina, Lukaku and Martinez played a major role in transforming Inter’s 2-3 loss into a 4-3 big win in the final minutes, as they had the most offensive advantage, as indicated by the xG match report.
Lukaku and Martinez had the most offensive advantage, where the xG for them is usually higher than the other attacking players’ which is another proof of their abilities.
Last season at Serie A, Martinez played as a second striker alongside Lukaku, in Conte’s set-up, which always relies on the presence of three midfielders. The manager paired them together in order to make the most of each other’s advantages simultaneously.
Having them both doubles the team’s chances of holding the ball and continuing in an offensive state by supporting each others’ movement and providing more options for a pass. Here we can clearly see this, in the opening match of Serie A 2020/21.
Тhe first goal chance for Inter by Martinez came from a perfect move by the two players. We can see here that when Lukaku received the ball in the gaps between the midfield and the defensive line and then moved to the half-space on the right side.
The good understanding between them prompted Martinez to move deep into the space created by Lukaku’s move. Lukaku used it optimally by keeping the ball and then waited for Martinez to move in the depth so he passed him the ball in a more dangerous area.
One of the characteristics of their partnership is their movement on a counter after getting the ball out of the pressure areas and ending the attacks optimally.
Below we can see how Lukaku and Martinez move on the counterattack as they move away from the pressure structures in the half-spaces, in order to overwhelm the opponent’s defence by pressing one of them and then passing to the other.
Barella moved a great distance with the ball and waited as Lukaku moved to the right and Martinez moved to the left, and then passed the ball to Martinez, who scored a great goal to the right of the goalkeeper.
The harmony between the duo appears in the close proximity between the players to confuse the opponents inside the box.
For example when Sanchez passed the ball to the right in the direction of Hakimi, Lukaku and Martinez kept a close distance between them when the ball came out of Sanchez’s foot, and passed it to Hakimi who passed the ball to Lukaku and he scored the goal which brought Inter back to meet again.
Here is also another example of creating confusion within the opponent’s defences by the close proximity between Lukaku and Martinez in the depth of the field. This led to less pressure on Martinez, who, as soon as he won the double with a Fiorentina defender he was able to shoot.
How do they complement each other?
Lukaku is characterised by physical strength, speed and ferocity, especially in the last third of the field, while Lautaro is characterised by speed with flexibility and accuracy that allows him to end many attacks properly.
The physical strength of the Lukaku gives him the preference over the defenders in receiving balls sent from the back, calming the playing and waiting for Lautaro to come and passing the ball directly to him.
Here, for example, Lukaku dropped into the gaps between the midfield and the defensive line, so that Lukaku received a pass in this space, so he used it optimally by keeping the ball and then waited for Martinez to move then he passed him the ball in a more dangerous area.
It becomes clear that the target man in the transitions is Lautaro, Lukaku drops back in order to get the ball or give a better passing opportunity, as Lautaro moves to more dangerous areas so that he can score goals.
Here, when the team was in a state of transition from defence to attack, Lukaku was in lower areas of the field while Lautaro was over the ball moving quickly to the edge of the box and eventually scored a goal.
Conte’s additional options in attack
It is definitely good to have Lukaku and Martinez as the main attackers of your team, but in anticipation of the absence of one of them, it is very important to have a substitute that is equally intelligent and understanding and fits with Antonio Conte’s plan.
In the first half of the Inter match against Benevento in the second round of Serie A 2020/21 activities, Antonio Conte started with his usual line-up with a change to this duo, the Chilean Sanchez appeared as a second striker, a substitute for Martinez next to Lukaku.
It is clear that Antonio Conte wanted to exploit all the capabilities he have in his team, he started with Sanchez alongside Lukaku in the first half and it seemed very organised as the two were pressing together into one structure as shown below.
Lukaku presses the CB while Sanchez closes the passing lane for the right back, forcing him to pass the ball to the goalkeeper, who was only able to quickly play the ball out with the risk of an Inter player picking it.
In the second half, in the 65th minute, Martinez came as a substitute for Lukaku, without adding any change to the match’s line-up in theory, but in practice and as explained below, we can see that Sanchez was delaying some time, which gives Martinez enough time to move in the half of the space between the back and the defender, even He receives a Sanchez pass and actually ended it in a great way in the goal.
Antonio Conte managed to build a strong team to compete for titles again, especially the Serie A title, absent from the club for nearly a decade.
Among the greatest duo that he added to his squad was the wonderful attacking duo of Lukaku and Martinez, whose results quickly became evident, both in terms of the level of understanding between both of them and the actual results by participating in the goals, either by recording or by Assisting.