On Wednesday evening, Inter lost 1-0 in their Champions League group stage opener versus Real Madrid at the San Siro. It wasn’t the start that they had hoped for as Real Madrid forward Rodrygo scored in the 89th minute to lift his side to a victory that felt undeserved. Inter were the better side for the bulk of the match as they created better chances and sustained pressure yet they were unable to capitalize.
Inter manager Simone Inzaghi made his first appearance for the Nerazzurri in the Champions League after arriving this past summer to replace previous manager, Antonio Conte. It wasn’t the start that Inzaghi had wished for but he definitely has time to turn it around for Inter and steer them in the right direction.
A late goal from Madrid will leave Inter disappointed, however, this game had a lot of positives for the Nerazzurri. So, what did we learn from this match?
Milan Skriniar Continues To Prove How Valuable He Is In the Backend
Inter center-back Milan Skriniar has come a long way in the past three seasons with Inter. When he started under the previous manager Antonio Conte, he had to adapt and transition from a back four to a back three. He started off poorly in his first season under the Italian, however, the following season he transitioned very well. This season under new manager Simone Inzaghi, he continues to be a pillar in the backend.
Skriniar put forth another exceptional performance for Inter as he was one of their best players versus Real Madrid. Late in the match, he made two outstanding blocks to prevent them from taking the lead. His efforts kept Inter in this match with a decent chance of winning yet they were wasted in the 89th minute as they conceded a goal.
In the early stages of the match off a corner kick, Skriniar separated himself from the defense, created space, and headed the ball towards the net. He missed the target yet it was a quality scoring chance made by the Inter defender. His presence was known in the backend where he was physical, advanced the ball smoothly, and made key tackles.
He finished the match with 70 touches, three clearances, three blocked shots, two interceptions, three tackles, and a pass accuracy rate of 94%.
Hakan Çalhanoğlu was dreadful for Inter
Hakan Çalhanoğlu had a performance that he will want to put behind him. The midfielder failed to be effective in this match as far too often he turned the ball over in the midfield. He was slow with his passing, looked out of place and lost challenges too easily. His decision-making in the final third was poor as he wasted numerous chances to score.
Late in the first half, inside Real Madrid’s goal areal, Çalhanoğlu made a pass towards Edin Dzeko, who was well covered, and this resulted in a turnover. The midfielder should have elected to take the shot as he was not pressured by the defenders and had plenty of space. He lost possession nine times and failed to be effective in the final third.
Marcelo Brozovic Put Forth A Dominant Performance
It would be unfair to not recognize the performance that Marcelo Brozovic put forth for Inter. He was undoubtedly their best midfielder versus Real Madrid as he showed great intensity, tracked back to re-gain possession, made key challenges and was physical. The Croatian was effective all over the midfield where he showed good pace, was quick with his decision-making and showed a very good read for the game.
Brozovic really picked up the slack for Nicolo Barella and Çalhanoğlu, who weren’t as effective as he was. Both players struggled to win challenges, made poor passes or lost challenges too easily. Brozovic showed good intensity and desire to win the ball.
Brozovic finished the match with 7/9 long ball passes, one key pass, won two fouls, made four clearances and had a pass accuracy rate of 91%.
Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez Were Wasteful On Their Chances
Romelu Lukaku definitely would have been a welcome presence in this match versus Real Madrid as he may have been the difference maker. Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez had numerous quality scoring chances for Inter yet failed to convert. Dzeko was denied three times by Real Madrid goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois. Martinez had two quality scoring chances inside the goal area. He was left uncovered yet headed the ball on both occasions directly towards Courtois.
They had missed opportunities and, although they controlled the play for most of the match, one massive mistake late in the match led to their loss.
Inter Need To Try Joaquin Correa With Lautaro Martinez
Late in the second half, Inzaghi elected to take off Dzeko over Martinez for Joaquin Correa. For a fourth straight match, Correa and Martinez didn’t play upfront together. Dzeko was ineffective in this match as he didn’t do much when he didn’t have possession and failed to score on his chances. The striker has shown that he doesn’t have the pace to go 90 minutes as he’s slowed down late in matches.
Martinez has familiarity with Correa as the two played with each other in international competition for Argentina and this duo should be considered. Martinez was more productive between the two strikers as he made runs, won possession and created chances. Martinez is 24 years old and Dzeko is 35 years old, so the former should be playing the full match as he’s shown the fitness level to play longer in matches.
Martinez and Correa should play together to provide a change upfront for Inter as they could be more effective.