Inter 4-0 Lecce: Brozovic, Sensi, Lukaku, Candreva
Making snap judgements after one game is foolish. But the essence of what Antonio Conte is trying to build at Inter was on display last night. Inter moved the ball quickly. They played out from the back. They split the ball wide. They pressed. Midfielders moved forwards. They shot, consistently. Forwards moved and inter-changed positions. Everyone was involved. They were a collective, a team, not merely a collection of individuals — there’s a major distinction.
Here are your player ratings for Match Day One.
Samir Handanovich – 6
Handonovich’s early wobble was a concern. He didn’t look comfortable, nor did he trust the three guys in front of him. Can you blame him? A late De Vrij scratch probably altered his mindset somewhat. That early charge on a fast break could have been a disaster:
A goal there – or a red, if he was less lucky – would have challenged the team’s mentality extremely early in the season. Handanovich eventually settled down. He looked more comfortable in the second half.
Antonio Candreva – 8
Candreva was the star of the show. He stretched the field and was a constant threat bombing forward down the right-hand side. He delivered a pair of gorgeous deliveries that should have been finished:
Candreva looked a different player. He finished the game with just four inaccurate passes, per WhoScored. His 50 other passes, including eight long balls, were accurate. There will be hyperbolic talk that he’s a new player, like a new signing, someone who’s felt Conte’s magic touch. He’s just engaged and in shape. Those two things make a gigantic difference.
He capped it all with that extraordinary strike:
Danilo D’Ambrosio – 6
D’Ambrosio was fine. He’s a decent fill in when one of Godin, De Vrij or Skriniar are missing. His reading of the game in the right half channel and in wide positions showed to be a real bonus. Candreva isn’t good enough defensively against top competition. Other centre backs in a three who get dragged wide can look exposed. D’Ambrosio looked at home.
Andrea Ranocchia – 6
Ranocchia was forced into the lineup at short notice after De Vrij sustained an injury during warm-ups. He was up-and-down throughout the first half. Defensively, Inter looked disjointed in the first-half. Handanovic didn’t trust the back three. Ranocchia was forced in to last-ditch clearances. When Godin and De Vrij return to the side, Inter will have as solid a backline as anywhere in Europe. Monday night, however, exposed just how large the drop-off is behind those three.
Milan Skriniar – 7
Skriniar, as expected, was the best of the back three. His positing was as commanding as ever. He plays with preternatural sense for what a counter-attacking forward wants to do, whether they’ve figured it out themselves or not. He consistently covered in-behind for Asamoah when he was caught upfield. Watch him smother this break:
Skriniar knows when and how to close space. He forced Diego Farias into a panicked decision, gifting the ball back to Inter.
Kwado Asamoah – 6
Excellent going forward, as expected. Some issues defensively, as expected. Could have given a penalty away inside ten minutes after bundling a Lecce player to the floor, but more than made up for it with his attacking threat. He was a consistent outlet for the back three whenever Lecce pressed.
Matias Vecino – 5
The midfield trio were sloppy with the ball throughout the first 60-minutes. They looked frenetic, as though they were too amped up, too excited. Vecino was the worst offender, completing just 20 passes. Something just wasn’t clicking between the three:
Things improved when Nico Barella came on. Adding him to the starting XI moving forward will be a big upgrade.
Marcelo Brozovic – 8
Brozovic was a stud. He was left on an island defensively and held up admirably through the first half hour or so. Going forward, he was awesome: he finished with 102 total passes, successfully completing 92 percent of his passes. He kept the ball moving and allowed the side to adjust tempos.
His opening goal was a beauty:
Brozovic’s disciplinary record showed up again. An ill-timed tackle in the first ten minutes led to an obvious booking. He was forced him to play more reserved, defensively, from there on out. Inter need him this year. He cannot be missing time with a collection of yellows again.
Stefano Sensi – 7
Sensi carried over his preseason form into the first game of the season. He was a little up and down earlier, particular with his passing. His movement in that free-role was excellent, however. He took his goal well, a special bit of individual play:
It was a good start. Sensi will get even better.
Romelu Lukaku – 6
Lukaku was a little blah. At his best, he showed why Conte was so enamored with adding the striker. His movement, combination of speed and power, and tactical nous were all outstanding:
He took his goal well, even if it came of a rebound. The downsides were obvious: those first touch issues showing up; missing chances; staying offside rather than busting to get back; lack of a final product. There is room to grow, but for someone with a truncated preseason I thought it was a fine performance. Getting his first goal out of the way well be a big boost mentally.
Lautaro Martinez – 7
You’ve probably seen this stat doing the rounds: Lautaro had more shots vs. Lecce (8) than he completed passes (7). That would seem to be indicative of a striker who desperate to score and played selfishly.
But a closer look shows that’s not true. Lautaro always seems to form an instinctive partnership with whoever he’s playing alongside. His movement and tenacity were as good as ever against Lecce. Of course, he must become more clinical – the early miss of Candreva’s cross was a true sitter. But to discount his performance as selfish when he was so impactful off-the-ball is to miss the point of his role.
Subs: Nicolo Barella, 7; Roberto Gagliardini, 5; Matteo Politano – 6
Antonio Conte – 8
Conte changed the tenor of this team in one offseason. It’s easy to get carried away, but it’s also easy to downplay the differences. The width. The undulating tempos. The chances. The creativity. Conte’s fire-and-passion looked infectious. The culture is just different.
Inter look fluid and fun going forward, wide open and shaky at the back. That’s more encouraging than discouraging. Conte can fix the defence. Going forward is more about instincts, skill, and how the pieces fit together. A home game against a newly promoted side was the perfect way to open the season – Inter still delivered.
Man of the Match: Marcelo Brozovic (1)
Isn’t it pretty.