With both teams heavily rotating their squads, you would have thought Inter’s depth would result in a comfortable win. While they dominated possession, Inter were unable to score in regulation and for the 7th time in the last nine Coppa Italia round of 16 matches, they took the game to extra time. Luck ran out as Inter quickly scored in the first extra time but then conceded twice in the final eight minutes of the match.
While winning the Scudetto is Inter’s main objective this season, being eliminated this early in the Coppa Italia is disappointing. The reigning title holders exit after their first tournament match, dominating possession in regulation (61%) and outshooting their opponent 17 to 3 (four shots on target to none) in the first 90 minutes. After their extra-time goal, the team played poorly and paid the price!
Inter’s heavily rotated squad had Audero making his second appearance in goal and a whole new midfield of Frattesi, Asllani, and Klaassen. Arnautovic started up-front with Lautaro. Had some injured players been available, we would have seen even more rotation.
Surprisingly, Bologna also heavily rotated their squad. Thiago Motta’s team has been the surprise of the Serie A season so far, so he elected to keep some of his stars on the bench, clearly looking forward to the weekend’s match against Atalanta in an attempt to maintain their top-four position.
Inter controlled the first half with 57% possession and a nine-to-one advantage in shots. Unfortunately, only two of their nine shots were on target: one strike from outside the box from Klaassen that was directly at Ravaglia (in the 8th minute) and the other from Frattesi in the 31st minute from a nice pass from Carlos Augusto that required a great save from the Bologna keeper as the ball was heading to the far corner of the net.
The rest of the half consisted of several ‘half-chances’ from Inter and a great backheel flick from the former Inter academy player, Fabbian, that went narrowly wide of Audero’s goal (in the 12th minute).
The half was a bit frustrating for Interisti, as the team was not able to take advantage of their superiority, and the teams headed into the break scoreless.
The second half was similar to the first, with Inter controlling 66% of the possession and having an eight-to-two advantage in shots. While Bologna never threatened in the half, Inter had two chances in the first twenty minutes. in the 53rd minute, an errant pass from Ravaglia allowed Asllani to steal the ball deep and pass to Arnautovic, who shot the ball wide. The second was a penalty on a handball from Corazza. Lautaro’s shot was not the best placed or most powerful, resulting in a save by Ravaglia.
Like in the first half, the rest of the second half consisted of more ‘half-chances’ without any additional shots threatening the Bologna goal.
Extra time started well for Inter, as they finally scored in the 92nd minute. A Dimarco corner was headed beautifully by Carlos Augusto to give the home side the advantage. After the goal, Inter played on the counter but never really threatened to double their lead. Of note is that Lautaro came off in the 98th minute, holding his groin and limping. Hopefully, this is nothing serious.
The second extra time could not have gone worse, as Inter conceded twice in the span of four minutes. Bologna had its first corner of the game in the 112th minute. The deep cross was acrobatically healed back by Zirkzee and scored by Beukema. After this goal, Inter went on the attack and paid the price on a counter by Bologna. Zirkzee got his second assist by passing the ball to Ndoye, who was too fast for the Inter defense and lobbed the ball over Audero for the goal. Inter tried to get back into the game, but never threatened again.
Audero - 5.5: Hard to rate Audero as he had no saves but conceded two goals. Maybe should have done better on the first goal. On the positive side, he was very good with the ball at his feet and was accurate on five of his eight long balls (overall, had a 92% pass success rate).
Bastoni - 6.5: Seemed shaky with the ball at times, but the stats were favorable. He won seven of eight duels, had three tackles, an 89% pass success rate, and connected on four of five long balls.
Acerbi - 5.5: Was solid in defense until the second extra time as he allowed Zirkzee to get the better of him on the second goal (should have fouled him to stop the play). Had three clearances, three interceptions, and three tackles.
Bisseck - 6: He played well for his 90 minutes, with a 92% pass accuracy rate, and won two of his three duels.
Carlos August - 5.5: Scored the Inter goal but struggled defensively, losing possession a team-high 21 times and only winning four of 12 duels.
Klaassen - 4.5: The second-string midfield struggled to make an impact on the game. For starters, Klaassen had a rough night with only 36 touches and an 81% pass success rate. His limited appearances this season have not been good.
Asllani - 5.5: Asllani has been good this season, but his long passing was off tonight, and he lost possession 19 times. He only connected on two of 12 crosses and three of seven long balls. This was not his best night.
Frattesi - 4: How can a midfielder play the full 120 minutes and only have 41 touches? His passing was abysmal (47% success rate), and he missed a great chance in the 50th minute by scuffing the ball. Other than his one shot on goal, it was a night to forget!
Darmian - 6: With the team’s other RWBs injured, Darmian is playing every minute of every game. He didn’t have much impact on the game despite his 80 touches, but his rating has more to do with his being a true warrior for the team.
Martinez - 4.5: Lautaro is always giving 100% on the pitch, but tonight was not his night. Not only did he miss the penalty that would have given Inter the win, his passing accuracy was a low 72% and he lost possession 14 times. Let’s hope he is not injured, as he still is the team’s MVP this season.
Arnautovic - 4.5: I was hopeful Arnautovic would be a contributor this season, but so far, he has disappointed. 70% pass accuracy, four shots (none on target), and his big miss in the 53rd minute. Another player who had a night to forget!
Inzaghi - 5.5: While I agree with the team rotation for this match, unlike against Benfica, he was not able to get the team on track in the second half. What should have been a comfortable win will linger in the minds of Interisti for a while. His substitutions seemed to be correct but ultimately were ineffective.
Bologna is a good team that is very well-coached. There is no shame in losing to them. But at home, when you have the lead and dominated the match? We saw this against Sassuolo earlier this season and to some extent in the first Bologna match.
It’s been some time since Inter tasted defeat. With their next game on Saturday against lowly Lecce, will they bounce back with a convincing win? Will Lautaro be fit to play? It seems that the only forward combination that works for the Nerazzuri is Lautaro-Thuram. If Lautaro misses time, will Inter struggle to score?
While the Coppa Italia is history for this season, Inter must stay focused to extend their lead in Serie A, and be ready for battle with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League come February.