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Atalanta 0-2 Inter Milan: The Backline Earns the Victory in Bergamo

Goals from two defenders and a shutout were a ringing endorsement of the league’s best defense

Good lord, those jerseys...
Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

What a season. Inter’s 2019-20 campaign has been…wacky, to say the least. In more ways than one, the past 38 matches have been a perfect embodiment of Pazza Inter. But as has been the case in many years past, the curtain closer was a success. Inter conquered Atalanta by two goals to nil, and held onto second place in the table.

Starting XIs

Atalanta’s XI (3-4-2-1)
Inter’s XI (3-4-1-2)

First Half

The game had barely started before Danilo D’Ambrosio opened the scoring, the second game in a row where he has found the back of the net. The 31-year-old connected with an Ashley Young cross in the center of the box, and headed home. Atalanta’s keeper, Pierluigi Gollini, was completely out of position, and then to add injury to insult was forced to exit with a knee injury.

Atalanta BC v FC Internazionale - Serie A
D’Ambrosio scoring the first of the night
Photo by Claudio Villa - Inter/Inter via Getty Images

Atalanta continued to look sluggish, and Inter was able to double its lead in the 20th minute. From well outside of the box, Young cut inside and sent a beautiful curling effort into the far post corner, leaving Marco Sportiello no chance.

Atalanta BC v FC Internazionale - Serie A
Young celebrating his superb goal
Photo by Claudio Villa - Inter/Inter via Getty Images

Neither side could take control of the half, with possession evenly split and few chances at either end. Atalanta, though, was especially sloppy and lacked the offensive threat that has become a staple of Gian Piero Gasperini’s outfit.

Second Half

The second forty-five was much the same, with Inter’s backline affording Atalanta’s fearsome attack with no space in the final third. La Dea managed just two shots on target from fourteen attempts. Inter had a spattering of half chances to ice the game, but never found the final product.

Atalanta BC v FC Internazionale - Serie A
Sanchez scored on this play, but was ruled offside
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Inter’s defense hasn’t always looked like the best in the league, but it earned that accolade Saturday. The other Nerazzurri was shutout for just the third time this season, and first since September (!). Perhaps La Dea was distracted by PSG on the horizon, but one way or another Papu Gómez and company were far removed from their normal selves. Inter kept Atalanta’s expected goals to just 0.24 until the 80th minute when a late Atalanta push for a miracle comeback began.

Atalanta on the bottom, Inter on top

As you can see from the touches map, Atalanta’s moves fell apart before reaching the final third. La Dea were forced into many shots from distance, but Samir Handanović was never seriously tested. Inter, meanwhile, consolidated in midfield and its own half. The Nerazzurri won the battle in the center of the park, which was vital in gaining the three points.

Inter ends the season one point behind Juventus, in second. How Inter ended up so close to the Old Lady is quite the mystery, considering the nine point gap prior to the restart. The Nerazzurri has a lot to be proud of in its first year under Conte’s direction, but there’s plenty to improve upon as well in the 2020-21 season. There isn’t much time to rest, however, with Getafe looming on Wednesday in the Europa League Round of 16.

It’s been six months since I started here and, hooboy, a lot has happened both on and off the pitch. From the coronavirus entailed stoppage to a game every three days, this has been a season we won’t forget anytime soon. It’s been a lot of fun writing for the site and I look forward to many more articles. A break from what seems like a never ending cycle of previews and recaps would be nice.

Thanks to everyone who’s been reading, commenting, or lurking. Forza Inter!