The Frankfurt crowd created an incredibly hostile atmosphere, but Luciano Spalletti’s men responded by dominating large portions of the opening 45 minutes. The performance dropped away significantly after half time, but the score remained 0-0 till the final whistle leaving both sides with everything to play for next week at the San Siro.
Here are our Five Takeaways from Thursday’s match:
Inter Are Blessed To Have Skriniar and De Vrij
In the lead-up to the match, much of the hype around Inter’s opponents centered around their attacking threat. Indeed, the German side are the third-highest scorers in the Bundesliga and had scored in every single European match they had played - until they came up against Milan Skriniar and Stefan De Vrij. These two have been immense all season, but were noticeably poor versus Cagliari and it cost the side.
They showed tremendous resilience to bounce back immediately, however, and put on a world class display. There is lots of uncertainty at the club, but at least we know that our central defense could be set for another five years at least.
Lautaro Isn’t Perfect
It was another solid, if not spectacular performance from El Toro. He has done incredibly well since stepping in for Mauro Icardi but today did highlight an area he needs to improve - his discipline. Lautaro Martinez came into the game one yellow card away from suspension, knowing full well that he’s Inter’s only reliable #9 right now.
To get a yellow card in such a reckless and unnecessary manner is disappointing. Inter are now relying on the return of Icardi, or will be forced to field Politano, Keita or Perisic in an unfamiliar position. I think Lautaro has done brilliantly in the past few weeks, but his temperament is a part of his game which definitely needs improvement.
Squad Restrictions Are Just As Damaging As Transfer Bans
Upon their return to European competition, Inter were forced to manage another aspect of the draconic punishment delivered previously by UEFA - a limited squad list.
I am not fully versed in the specifics, but it meant that Inter were unable to register players like Joao Mario, Roberto Gagliardini and Dalbert because of their significant transfer fees. All of those three would’ve offered increased tactical flexibility in this match. Furthermore, much like the final match versus PSV Eindhoven where they only had two healthy midfielders, Inter face Frankfurt in the return leg with no recognizable left full back and (potentially) no striker. The end of the voluntary agreement cannot come soon enough.
Who’s Taking Penalties?
In the absence of Mauro Icardi, Inter have been awarded three spot kicks which have all been taken by a different player. This didn’t appear to be a problem until today, when Marcelo Brozovic failed to convert what would have been a vital away goal.
After winning the penalty, Martinez appeared eager to take the kick, as did Ivan Perisic (the two previous kickers). When questioned after the match, Spalletti suggested that it was “up to the players to decide” and that Marcelo Brozovic took the kick because “he was feeling good.” That seems like a terrible way to run the team.
Like corners and free kicks, there simply must be a designated taker who the team fully trusts to take the kick. At worst, two quality players take turns the way Diego Milito and Samuel Eto’o did in 2009/10. To see players bicker is always a bad look and, should the player miss, there is bound to be resentment on the field. Once Icardi left this whole in the squad, leadership should’ve stepped in and designated a replacement.
Give Kids a Chance?
In light of the above, Luciano Spalletti may be forced to look towards his ‘B’ list for players who can assist in light of an injury crisis. In Europe, however, the club is still limited to a select few players who are able to represent the club.
The ‘B’ list is only for players who have trained with the club from the age of 15, so Inter aren’t able to call up starlets such as Facundo Colidio or Eddy Salcedo. That said, if the club is eager for a deep run in the Europa League, then these players may need to start getting some minutes in Serie A to offer some respite. Spalletti has yet to call on any Primavera players this season, but he may be forced to soon.
What were your thoughts after the game? Let us know in the comments below