Inter Milan put in a strong defensive performance versus Atalanta as they maintained their ground for first place in Serie A. The Nerazzurri have been one of the most in-form teams in the league and are on pace to end Juventus’ reign of nine straight Scudettis. There is plenty to recap from this match between Inter and Atalanta.
Milan Skriniar Was Dominant In The Backend
It was a stellar performance from Milan Skriniar, who led the way in the backend for Inter. The center back did a great job taking Duvan Zapata out of the game and limited his chances. The Atalanta forward managed to covert one of his five shots on target and struggled to break Inter’s backline. He was given little space to work with, was unable to make his runs, and looked frustrated throughout the match.
Last season, the play of Skriniar was constantly questioned and it looked as if he didn’t suit a back three. That has not been the case this season as he’s done a great job adjusting and is becoming one of the most dependable players on defense for Inter manager, Antonio Conte. He was physical, decisive, and controlling in the backfield where he finished with five interceptions, five clearances, and three tackles.
Skriniar scored the game-winner for Inter as he made his presence known at both ends of the pitch. In this important showdown versus Atalanta, the Slovakian stepped up to the occasion and proved to be a difference-maker for the Nerazzurri.
Inter Were Opportunistic and Defensive
One of the most irrelevant stats in football is possession. That was the case with Atalanta, who held a greater advantage versus Inter (56%-44%) and were in Inter’s half for most of the second half. Although they held a greater advantage throughout the match, they were not able to capitalize in the final third.
Early in the second half, moments after subbing on Cristian Eriksen for Arturo Vidal, Inter immediately scored off a corner kick. Inter capitalized on their rare opportunity in the second half and defended the rest of the way. At the opposite end of the field, Atalanta rarely tested Inter goalkeeper, Samir Handanovic, as they managed to get three shots on target.
Plenty of their shots from close distance missed the target and sailed wide of the marker. A team such as Atalanta, who has proven to be a lethal team and score at ease, were unable to score? versus Inter. The Nerazzurri were disciplined, well organized and limited Atalanta’s space to make quick one touch passes. It was their third clean sheet in the past four matches and proved that if they gain the lead first, they’re difficult to break down.
There Will Be Better Days From Achraf Hakimi and Arturo Vidal
Achraf Hakimi has had a good first season with Inter, yet tonight the wing-back struggled to get involved in the match. Robin Gosens did a great job defending him and limiting his space. The Inter wing-back struggled to send crosses into the goal area and wasn’t effective with his speed as Gosens managed to keep pace.
Hakimi didn’t get any shots on goal, delivered one cross, and was dispossessed once. His touches were limited to 54 and didn’t do much down the wing when the opportunities came his way. He wasn’t clinical or decisive and was missing his spark. While he wasn’t poor on the defensive side of his game, he will have better days ahead and will help Inter be more impactful and win matches.
Arturo Vidal wasn’t at his best today yet he recently returned from an injury and needs time to get back to full fitness. He looked slow and struggled to keep pace with Atalanta’s midfield. He was a step behind in his challenges and his decision-making was poor.
Luckily, the decision to start Vidal didn’t come back to haunt them. Although starting Eriksen would have been wiser with how he’s been playing lately, Conte didn’t let his stubbornness get in the way and made the decision to sub him off for Eriksen immediately in the second half. This paid off as they scored moments later.
There will be better days ahead for Hakimi and Vidal.