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Tactical analysis: Is Spalletti’s 3-4-3 the answer to Inter Milan’s season?

Has the 3-4-3 come to stay?

Udinese Calcio v FC Internazionale - Serie A Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

After a shocking start to the season and an atrocious performance to go with it, Inter Milan needed to put in a spirited display for the home game season opener against Torino and for 45 minutes they were on course.

FC Internazionale v Torino FC - Serie A
Ivan Perisic of FC Internazionale in action during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and Torino FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on August 26, 2018 in Milan, Italy.
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Football is truly a game of two halves; for 45 minutes, Inter Milan looked like the team everyone had expected, world beaters and Juventus’ closest rival for the Scudetto but the Nerazzurri looked a shadow of themselves by giving away a two goal lead. An early Ivan Perišić goal settled any nerves and the second by the Dutchman Stefan De Vrij was no less than the Nerazzurri deserved. Inter controlled possession, 65-35, leaving Torino with little chance to do much more than scramble to intercept ball movement and extinguish counter attacks.

After a dominating performance in the first half, many Inter fans expected more of the same and would be forgiven to expect another 1 or 2 goals added to the score line but what in fact followed after the break was tragic. Andrea Belotti beat Danilo D’Ambrosio and rounded Samir Handanović through a sensational ball over the top from Iago Falque to make 2-1. The 68th minute spelled danger for Inter who had difficulty clearing out Torino’s attempts and paid the price after Soualiho Meité gambled a run into the box and shot right past Handanović in the bottom left to level the game. The game ended 2-2. Inter’s draw felt like a loss.

Although, having said that, a glimmer of hope emerged from the abyss for the Nerazzurri. Luciano Spalletti may have figured out a viable formation for the rest of the season.

Speculation on the team’s line up and formation revolved around a 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 but the announcement of Spalletti’s line up surprised everyone. He had in fact opted for a 3-4-3.

Handanović; D’Ambrosio, De Vrij, Škriniar; Vrsaljko, Vecino, Brozović, Asamoah; Politano, Icardi, Perišić.

For 45 minutes, the team started out brilliantly and looked very comfortable in the 3-4-3 formation. Every player was comfortable in their positions and moved around the pitch with ease.

The five man defence looked assured of their positional play. Kwadwo Asamoah was the pick of the defenders for his monstrous all round performance; pressing Torino high up the field and passing it back to Handanović at the other. Overall he put in a great performance and looked comfortable in his left wing back role. The duo of Stefan De Vrij and Milan Škriniar has the potential to be a long term solution for Inter. They shepherded the backline with ease and allayed any fear of Miranda absence. Their understanding can only develop and blossom into a defensive pairing that rivals Europe’s best.

Šime Vrsaljko finally made his debut and looked comfortable at right wing-back using his athleticism and energy to track Torino’s left winger, cover D’Ambrosio and combine with Matteo Politano. This could be the beginning to a scintillating partnership between Politano and Vrsaljko. Both Politano and Vrsaljko have shown flashes of brilliance with their interplay against Torino. The Croatian’s 72 minute appearance yielded 3 tackles, 3 clearances and 1 cross.

FC Internazionale v Torino FC - Serie A Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

The central midfield duo of Marcelo Brozović and Matías Vecino was criticised for their dire performance against Sassuolo last week. The pair were given a second chance to prove their worth and ended up with an improved display. The addition of the third centre back gave them the confidence to play their natural game. I would personally love for Roberto Gagliardini to get a run in the side and cement his position because of his ability to truly suffocate the opposition’s space in midfield allowing Brozović or Nainggolan to play an even more advanced role giving Inter more men going forward.

On paper, this can be an explosive front line for Inter Milan. Capitano, Mauro Icardi setup up Ivan Perišić for the opener while Matteo Politano produced another terrific display capping off his performance with an assist for De Vrij’s bullet header after 32 minutes. Politano, who has been the most impressive forward from our first two games with his pace and trickery has become a nightmare for defenders.

The front three will benefit from having their wing backs pushed up in an advanced position as a result of having three centre backs; this creates an overload between opposition full back and centre back creating a 2v1 situation. Seeing as Icardi is an obvious threat, the opposition centre half will continue to man mark him, allowing Brozović or Nainggolan and Perišić space through the middle. Icardi’s presence along with the 2v1 situation can be a channel of success for Inter.

More work on the training ground and eradicating individual mistakes will be Luciano Spaletti’s agenda this week. Key players are yet to return to the team with Radja Nainggolan not at full fitness and neither Lautaro Martinez nor Keita Baldé has found their feet in this team. Sime Vrsaljko is still recovering from his World Cup exploits. Nevertheless, the team has shown promising signs of mutual understanding within this formation and with first team players getting back to peak physical fitness, it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing Internazionale dominate matches for 90 minutes and dethrone the false king of Serie A.


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