Inter came closer to a chance at winning their first Scudetto since 2009/10 after a 1-0 win over Bologna. Romelu Lukaku scored the lone goal and both sides generated very few scoring opportunities. AC Milan sit in second place and trail the Nerazzurri by eight points with Inter having a game in hand versus Sassuolo. It’s becoming more of a reality for Inter with Juventus and Milan consistently dropping points and showing poor form.
It wasn’t an exciting match from Inter, yet Inter manager, Antonio Conte, had it right from a defensive approach. Bologna had very few chances and were held in check by a strong defensive performance. Now Inter will aim for their tenth straight win this upcoming mid-week versus Sassuolo. Bologna will turn their focus to Roma and look to get back into the win column.
Who were the winners and losers from this match?
Winner: Antonio Conte
Inter’s manager has received constant criticism this season after his team exited from the Champions League and Coppa Italia. Very few forget his main objective was to guide his side to their first Scudetto since 2009/10. Numerous managers have been unsuccessful at ending Juventus’ reign in the past decade. That became more of a reality after their win over Bologna.
While the win wasn’t pretty from a defensive standpoint, it was a success. Although the Rossoblu had twelve attempts, they mustered just two on target. Their best chance came from Nicola Sansone inside six-yard box yet was denied by Inter goalkeeper, Samir Handanovic. Inter were well-disciplined, committed few fouls, scored when they needed to and limited Bologna’s chances.
Wins don’t always need to be exciting from an offensive approach and on Saturday night, Conte had his tactics, starting lineup, substitutes, and strategy down pact.
One of the most irrelevant stats in football is ball possession. Bologna held a slight advantage over Inter (56% vs 44%) yet failed to create any real opportunities. Spending most of the match in Inter’s zone, they managed two shots on target with one being a real opportunity from Sansone. Bologna manager, Sinisa Mihajlovic, did not have an answer in solving Inter’s backline.
Milan Skriniar, Alessandro Bastoni, and Andrea Ranocchia committed a combined nine clearances, two blocked shots, and six interceptions. There were zero flaws to Inter’s defense and the likes of Musa Barrow, Sansone, and Roberto Soriano struggled to break them down. Holding possession for most of the game means very little if you’re unable to do much with it.
This stat doesn’t tell the whole story as Bologna spent more time passing than attacking.
Winner: Andrea Ranocchia
This was just the fifth start this season for Ranocchia and his first appearance on the pitch since January 30th versus Benevento Calcio. With Stefan De Vrij not fully fit and recovering from Covid-19, Ranocchia was inserted into the lineup. Replacing a player such as De Vrij is a tough task, however, the Italian did a great job in his place.
Ranocchia’s limited playing time didn’t have an effect on him and he asserted himself quite well into the match. He looked calm and composed in the backend, where he conceded very few errors. He was physical and stood tall when he needed to be. He finished the match with three clearances, three interceptions, and one tackle.
It’s difficult to be inserted into the lineup after not playing for two months. While his role with the club is much less than what it used to be, his performance helped Inter win and pushed them closer to a Scudetto.
Loser: Marcelo Brozovic
It wasn’t Marcelo Brozovic’s day versus Bologna as he struggled throughout the match. The Inter midfielder lost numerous challenges and was caught out of position at times. The most frustrating part was that he picked up a yellow card late into the game and is forced to miss Wednesday’s match versus Sassuolo.
Brozovic’s absence could open the door for Stefano Sensi, who could make a rare appearance for the Nerazzurri. The midfielder’s stats were far from impressive as he was dispossessed three times and lost control of the ball three times as well. He managed just one key pass and attempted one cross. This was not one of his best performances this season.
Inter has been Serie A’s best team since January. They have won nine straight matches in Serie A and continue to inch closer to a Scudetto. While there are still ten matches to be played for the Nerazzurri, Juventus and AC Milan have made their path easier for them. Both clubs have struggled and shown inconsistency in recent times.
While the job is not quite done yet, it’s becoming more of a reality. During their nine-game winning streak, they have earned six clean sheets and have been hard to break down in the backend.