The Sunday evening clash against Lazio was a big opportunity for Inter Milan to gain ground on third spot in the Serie A table. The Nerazzurri were unfortunately missing Lautaro Martinez to injury and Mauro Icardi to a last minute scratch from the team sheet due to yet another bump in the road in his return to action.
With his limited options up top, Spalletti opted to start Keita Balde at the forward spot with Politano and Perisic behind him. The trio got off to a hot start creating a number of opportunities in the first ten minutes.
Despite Inter putting on the pressure, Lazio struck on the counter in the 12th minute from a beauty of a ball from Luis Alberto to Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to put Lazio up 1-0.
The rest of the half found Inter possessing the ball but Lazio being the more dangerous of the sides and forcing Handanovic to make two quality saves to keep Inter within a goal.
Possession was once again controlled by Inter but the Nerazzurri didn’t do enough in the final third to truly trouble the opposing goalkeeper. Lazio was sound defensively when they needed to be and made it a difficult night for Inter to break through on goal.
The loss is a disappointing result for Inter, coming off of a huge win in the Milan derby prior to the international break. With a clashes against Atalanta, Roma and Juventus all looming large it will be interesting to see how the Icardi situation develops. With Martinez recovering from injury, the return of Icardi is more important now than ever.
Let’s take a look at what players performed well today and who will have the most to build on moving into the last several weeks of the season.
Samir Handanovic (7.5) - Handanovic had a solid match, saving Inter on several occasions throughout the match. He was smart off his line and made quick reactions when called upon. Unfortunately there wasn’t much time for him to react when Milinkivic Savic broke through on a header for the game-winning goal.
Danilo D’Ambrosio (6) - D’Ambrosio had a forgettable night. Despite being efficient in winning duels, he didn’t do a great job in tackling and conceded a pair of fouls. He didn’t contribute much to the attack.
Miranda (6.5) - Miranda was effective with passing, completing over 90% of his passes in the match. He rarely took a wrong step and was an outlet for his teammates when needed.
Milan Skriniar (5.5) - Skriniar was challenged in this match, he lost his fair share of duels on set pieces and the run of play. If not for a couple of stellar saves by Handanovic a couple of his mistakes in marking could have lead to Lazio goals.
Kwadwo Asamoah (7) - Asamoah was one of Inter’s best players on the night. He completed over 100 passes and was strong on both sides of the pitch. On defense he made it difficult for Lazio to create in the final third.
Matias Vecino (5.5) - Vecino had a night to forget, he was easily dispossessed on several occasions, was inefficient with the ball and didn’t do enough to capitalize on his opportunities.
Marcelo Brozovic (6) - Brozovic was all over the midfield for Inter. His delivery from corners wasn’t as effective as Inter needed and rarely challenged the Lazio defense from the spot.
Borja Valero (6) - Valero was solid in the midfield in distribution but didn’t get involved enough in the attack. Despite making a couple of key passes he didn’t do enough to impress before coming off for the flashier midfielder Radja Nainggolan.
Matteo Politano (6.5) - Politano was dangerous on more than a few occasions but unfortunately couldn’t find the back of the net. His strong left foot proves to be an issue at times as his dependence on it can become predictable throughout the match.
Ivan Perisic (6) - Perisic was hit or miss throughout the match, at times working hard and winning duels to create opportunities. At other times he looked lackadaisical and ineffective in the attack.
Keita Balde (7) - Keita Balde did a good job of being active in the final third and making it difficult for the Lazio defense. He had a number of shots come close to finding the back of the net. He is smart in utilizing his pace and technical ability to his advantage.
Radja Nainggolan (6) - Nainggolan gave Inter a bit of a spark coming into the match. He launched passes into the box but rarely found any Inter attackers crashing into them in promising positions. His best opportunity came on a hard driven shot from just outside the box that challenged the keeper in the 83rd.
Antonio Candreva (5.5) - Candreva came on late for the last 15 minutes of the match and wasn’t able to make an impact. His only shot was from outside the box and didn’t do enough to bother the keeper.
Joao Mario (N/A) - Mario came on for Keita Balde and only played for 10 minutes, failing to make any impact in his brief shift.
Inter will have another crack at it on Wednesday as they travel to Genoa. With Lautaro Martinez almost certainly out again it will be interesting to see if this match marks the return of Mauro Icardi. This will be huge opportunity for Inter as they seek to seal their place at third in the Serie A standings.
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