From being one goal away from the Champions League knockouts to an early exit from the Europa League; from Mauro Icardi gifting the team Rolex watches to the Curva disowning him, from #SpallettiIn to #SpallettiOut, this season has been a roller-coaster ride to the say the least.
Inter still have to ensure top-four qualification and with the last six games including matches against AS Roma, Napoli and Juventus, things could get tricky. Another hot topic among the fans is the alleged 9 million euro deal to be offered to Antonio Conte. In this post, I will talk about Conte potentially replacing Luciano Spalletti, an issue that has hounded us throughout the season and how our forwards have performed over the past 10 games.
Antonio Conte’s past record
Antonio first came into the spotlight during his managerial stint with Juventus, leading them to three consecutive league titles before joining the Italian National Team and was a penalty (Zaza) away from the EURO 2016 semi-finals. Despite the English Media narrative, he was the manager who accumulated the most wins after Pep Guardiola during his only two seasons at Chelsea.
While we cannot expect Antonio Conte to get this team to win as many games as he did with Juventus or Chelsea, if he manages to come close to that, Inter will greatly exceed the points they have accumulated now.
The statistics show us that if Conte can get Inter to perform at a Juventus 2012 level (post Calcioscommesse scandal), Inter would have 73 points at the moment, 13 more than they have now. If Inter’s performance matched that of Chelsea under Conte, they would have 68 points at the moment.
Conte has been one of the world’s best managers over the past 5 years and his stats clearly back that up. If Inter wants to make that next step, where they would be in a position to challenge for the Scudetto regularly and make deep Champions League runs, it might be the time to upgrade managers and Conte may be that answer.
Is Conte the right fit for Inter?
When Conte replaced Luigi Delneri at Juventus, the tactics took a severe U-turn, Juve shifted from a free-flowing offensive unit to a defensive minded team. During those three seasons, Juventus conceded just 67 goals. Conte achieved this by introducing the 3-5-2 formation with the three center-backs being Barzagli-Bonucci-Chiellini. This formation made Juventus an impossible team to break down. But in those 3 seasons, Juventus never finished as the top scoring team despite bossing the league.
While it would be unfair to call Conte a ‘park-the-bus’ manager, he definitely falls in the mould of past Inter managers Roberto Mancini and Jose Mourinho. His teams are known for defence and as of right now, Inter are the second best defensive team after Juventus but sixth when it comes to goals scored. Offense is a much bigger priority than defence and whether Conte will be able to fix that remains to be seen.
Conte has been using the 3 at the back formation over 90% of the games he has managed over the last 5-6 years. With the likely possibility of Godin arriving to join Milan Skriniar and De Vrij next season, this trend could very well continue.
Analyzing Inter’s stagnant offence
As mentioned before, offence has been a major issue for Inter this season. The forwards are great, Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic are capable of starting most teams in Europe, while Keita Balde , Matteo Politano and Lautaro Martinez are fast improving. The real problem lies in the fact that we are unable to connect the midfielders to the attackers, Radja was brought into the team for this purpose but he has had a below-par season, Spalletti’s tactics don’t do much to help this cause either.
This has caused Inter to have a goal difference of 0 or lower for over 70% of the time, which essentially means that Inter are always chasing the game and are unable to put the game to bed.
Compared to the top 5 teams in Serie A, Inter ranks second worst , just slightly ahead only of city rival, AC Milan who is chasing the game for 73% of the total time.
Inter are tied (usually scoreless) for 57.4% of the time, that is lower than Juventus (46%), Napoli (48%), and Roma (43%)
Juventus are clearly extremely dominant with 49.2 of the time spent in the lead, as compared to Inter’s 29%, Napoli’s 36%, Roma’s 38% and Milan’s 26%.
Inter however are the best when it comes to the defensive end, along with Juventus they are almost never behind by more than a single goal. Napoli are behind by more than one goal for 2.8% of the time while AC Milan are at 0.7%. Roma are the worst among the top 5, at 4.4%.
This offensive stagnation must be treated as a serious concern, and action must be taken this summer, whether it’s a new manager who sets up a new offensive scheme or whether it’s a player like Nicolò Barella who can perform the linking role that Inter lack, something must be done to address this particular issue.
How have Inter’s forwards performed?
Having spoken about the underlying tactics, the question arises how Inter’s forwards have performed this season. To answer this, I represented this season’s data in the form of a ‘sankey chart’ with the metrics - key passes/90 minutes and shots/90 minutes for the last 10 games and the complete season.
Icardi’s shot numbers have clearly fallen off and that could explain why he’s going through such a bad goal-drought at the moment. Politano and Keita have had greats runs of form over the last 10 games and their numbers have risen. Perisic on the other hand has become more passive, creating more and shooting less. (Is he trying to impress Arsenal with his creativity?)
These graphs are currently in the experimentation phase, there are still some readability and aesthetic issues to be fixed. However, I like them because they can be extended to as many metrics and as many players as I want.
Icardi has scored one goal in his last 10 league games - a penalty against Genoa. If we are to ensure a smooth ride over the last few games, the differences between the manager and Icardi need to be pushed aside as we need Mauro at his best.
What do you think? Post your comments below! Forza Inter!