Derby day is always magical and the ending certainly made it so. Inter Milan win 1-0 to secure the three points against their rivals.
Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Nerazzurri’s win:
Inter Milan have a different mentality this campaign
In years past it always seemed that when things went bad, it only got worse. This team has been different this year. It all started with that Tottenham match down 1-0. They never gave up and always battled. Today’s result marks the Nerazzurri‘s 7th consecutive win. Inter were far and away the better team in this one but they left the door open for far too long. Inter’s of old would most certainly concede that 90th minute goal. Instead this team dug deep and found that winner on the beautiful cross from Matias Vecino to find Mauro Icardi.
The finishing was very poor from Inter
The storyline of this game drastically changed in the last minutes. If Icardi did not score that goal, the storyline would be all about the missed opportunities by the Nerazzurri. Inter had an expected goals value(xG) of 1.54 which sums up how poor they were today. Matias Vecino totaled 0.56 xG by himself and could not find the back of the net. That came off two chances. He had the best chance for Inter (including the winner) that was 0.38 xG. The chance was created off a corner taken by Matteo Politano in the 61st minute. His second chance was 0.10 xG on a ground cross from Ivan Perisic that Vecino put over the bar.
When I got these stats from understat.com, I was surprised at how low that second chance was. Vecino broke free of everyone in the area and sailed a wide-open chance far over the net in the 42nd minute. Stefan De Vrij was unlucky in the box off a corner when he hit the post but on a different day that may find the back of the net. That chance had a 0.12 xG. Borja Valero slipped in Icardi in the 40th minute where the play resulted in a blocked shot. Icardi normally makes the most of that chance and he had a 0.13 xG. Overall, Inter were not their best today even though they got the result and were far the better team. Milan only had a 0.58 xG for the match and felt like the worst team all night.
Both Managers played it safe
When looking at the managers, both played the game very safe. Neither wanted to lose the game and I felt that it showed by their substitutions. The substitutions I question from the managers are Antonio Candreva from Spalletti and Bakayoko/Abate from Gattuso. Candreva came in for Matteo Politano in the 82nd minute. The game was 0-0 and Spalletti knew he needed a winner.
When wanting a result, I felt that Lautaro Martinez would have been a better substitution while the veteran Candreva was a safe play. Spalletti knew he could trust Candreva to make the right play and won’t cost them the game. Ultimately it paid off for him as Inter go on to win. It did not pay off for Gattuso though. Subbing in Tiemoue Bakayoko for Franck Kessie was an interesting move. Kessie was having a good game while Bakayoko had been in poor form. Meanwhile, Bakayoko is a defensive midfield and he is being brought in to a 0-0 game that is asking for a winner.
Gattuso should have doubled down on his second sub like he did when bringing in Patrick Cutrone. Bringing in an attacking player such as Samu Castillejo or Fabio Borini could have helped. I would not have subbed them on for Kessie but they could have found a spot. The last sub by Gattuso also made it know that he was happy with one point when he brought in Ignazio Abate for Davide Calabria. At that point there was no real reason to bring in Abate other than to seal the deal. Unfortunately for him, they did not and left the stadium with no points.
Careless Turnovers, Poor touches, and a lack of energy/fitness
This game was frustrating to watch at many different points in the game. Marcelo Brozovic played the full 90 minutes and it seemed like he had played the day before. Many times early on in the game he took a poor touch to lose possession or made poor passes. It felt that he was trying to force the ball in to small windows, which kept leading to Milan countering. It was not just Brozovic that looked out of sorts. Ivan Perisic appeared to have heavy legs as well. Unlike Brozovic, Perisic did not make it the full 90 minutes. He got subbed off for Keita Balde in the 70th minute.
There were times where it seemed like the two were still recovering from the World Cup. Perisic had many moments where he almost made an impact on the game as he had an expected assist (xA) total of 0.25. That went for 3rd best on the Nerazzurri but something just felt off with him. At the end of the first half he limped into the locker room and it seemed to hold him back for the rest of the game. The most concerning part of this game was Radja Naingollan. He left the game with an injury in the 27th minute. He got in a tussle with Lucas Biglia in the 20th minute where both seemed to come out injured. In the 27th, Radja broke away from Biglia and came up short on the play.
Biglia then took the ball and proceeded on the counter attack. After that play, Radja got subbed off. It appeared that he pulled a hamstring but that is not the player you want to get injured a couple days before a midweek Champions League fixture. The Nerazzurri will have to dig deep and look at their squad depth if they want to get a result in that one.
That man Mauro Icardi does it again
This guy. Every time he plays in a big game you just know something is going to happen. When the lights shine brightest, he puts on his best game. He is not the striker that needs to be on the ball. Give him one touch all game and he will make sure it is in the back of the net. He had an xG of 0.56 and 0.33 xG coming from his game winner. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Gianluigi Donnarumma made a terrible read on the cross from Vecino and Icardi made no mistake.
He sent the Interistas into a craze and secured three precious points for the Nerazzurri. Last November he won the derby with a penalty late in the game to earn a hatrick and this time he sealed it with his head. He may not be the best overall player or forward in the world, but he most certainly can make a case for being the best finisher. It always amazes me how he can barely touch the ball and with a blink of an eye he has a goal. The guy has a knack for finding the perfect spot to be. That is one characteristic I really praise the Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo for. He always knows where the ball is going to go and finishes it off. Mauro Icardi has that same trait. At the end of the day, it is great to have Captain Mauro playing for the black and blue.
What do you think? Post your comments below!