Inter Milan hosted Fiorentina today looking for a first win for Stefano Pioli. His record so far in all competitions had been a win and a loss, and with the owners in town a victory would be very helpful. Paulo Sosa’s team also was hungry for a win after their matching 3-2 loss in the Europa League, and this felt like a game where neither team would be happy with a draw.
Pioli went with a 4-2-3-1 formation for this game. Andrea Ranocchia partnered Miranda at the heart of the defense while Cristian Ansaldi and Danilo D’Ambrosio played out wide. Geoffrey Kondogbia and Marcelo Brozovic played just in front of the defense, while Antonio Candreva, Ever Banega, and Ivan Persic supported Mauro Icardi up top.
Per usual at this point Inter started the game with an intense press to give Fiorentina as little time on the ball as possible but this time it paid almost immediate rewards. In the 3rd minute a cutback was touched by Icardi to the edge of the box for Brozovic to strike into the top of the net to give Inter an early lead. Fiorentina tried to hit back in the 8th minute through Federico Bernardeschi and though his shot from distance was fumbled by Samir Handanovic, Nikola Kalinic was offside and wasn’t able to capitalize (plus Handa saved his effort anyways). The home side doubled their lead two minutes later. Perisic sent in a hard low cross that keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu could only palm into the path of Candreva who gratefully accepted the opportunity and scored.
It was already pretty apparent that this was going to be an open game without much emphasis on defending but that was made even clearer in the 12th minute when Borja Valero took the Inter defenders to school before forcing Handanovic to save his shot. Despite the scare the Nerazzurri found themselves 3 goals up before the 20th minute. This one was all Icardi and he first cut inside to beat Gonzalo Rodriguez and then held off Davide Astori before slotting home. Inter had a chance to go even further ahead less than a minute later but Perisic wasted a golden opportunity handed to him by the Fiorentina defense. Both sides showed attacking intent (though Handanovic was the only keeper who had to make saves) over the next couple of minutes before Fiorentina pulled a goal back in the 37th minute. Kalinic found space between Ranocchia and Candreva (D’Ambrosio was nowhere to be found) and after receiving the ball he stayed ahead of Candreva before scoring past Handanovic to give the away fans some hope. That hope seemed to be dashed just before halftime though when Rodriguez was sent off after taking down Icardi on the counter in what seemed to be a harsh decision.
At the start of the second half Pioli sent on Joao Mario for Geoffrey Kondogbia but if the move was designed to allow Inter to have a more calm control of the match that didn’t happen. The game continued in its chaotic flow from before with Ilicic and Banega both going close before Icardi swung at the ball and skied a great opportunity in the 56th minute. Perisic hit the post two minutes later as Inter really wanted to score again to kill off the match. Things weren’t entirely pretty though, Miranda was booked for an arm across the face of Ilicic and for the first time in quite some time the Brazilian defender was having a pretty poor game. He made a number of mistakes throughout the match with his passes and the time he spent on the ball but hopefully this was just a one-off performance for him.
In the 62nd minute Inter had to be Inter again. Despite being up a man and in a perfect position to cruise to a win they conceded once again through Ilicic on the counter to put fans on the edge of their seats (though Handanovic arguably could’ve done better with the shot). At the 80th minute Joao Mario had a perfect opportunity just in front of goal to easily score and give his team a 2 goal lead again but like Icardi the Portuguese midfielder sent his shot into the stands. The home fans were a nervous mess until the 91st minute on the counter when Perisic went on a long run and saw his shot saved but Icardi was in place to tap in the rebound. The final whistle saw Inter win the game 4-2.
There really can be no tactical analysis of this game. By the time Inter went up 2 goals Fiorentina threw caution to the wind and attacked, and Inter surprisingly seemed willing to play a wide open game confident they could outscore their opposition. While it made for a sometimes entertaining oftentimes heart-attack inducing match, it doesn’t tell us much about the team looking ahead besides the fact that Pioli couldn’t do wrong with having the team focus on defending in the buildup to the Napoli match. For now, I’ll just be happy with the win and the fact that Icardi is now tied with Edin Dzeko in the race for the Capocannoniere.