The long awaited premier matchup of the Serie A began with a bang, this of course literally, for the first 10 minutes all you could see and hear were fireworks outside the San Siro, and in the 12th minute a dagger into the heart of the Juve faithful with a goal from the former Juve star Arturo Vidal.
The fireworks, Bonucci’s contacts failing him with all the smoke, we should have taken this as an unfortunate sign to come. Whether this loss serves as a true point of reflection for this Juventus squad remains to be seen, however it was clear that the tactical battle was clearly lost over the full 90 minutes, Conte with all his failings, coached a masterpiece from beginning to end. Looking back, it was only until the 78th minute when we started to see some life from Juve, this of course too little too late. Both halves were begun in the worst way possible, with early goals in both.
While I could write many things that went wrong during this game, I will try to focus on some of the more obvious ones which to me are the battle lost in the midfield, the lack of any wing play and lack of defensive organization.
Beginning with the midfield, we see that for much of the game Inter dominated this sector. Both Nicolo Barella and Arturo Vidal were brilliant in their display, in contrast to Rabiot and Bentancour. This is not only because both of them scored, but also because they were organized in the way that they played, filling the box to box midfielder role excellently. What most of us observed was unfortunately a dismal display by Rabiot and Bentancour, especially in the way of sloppy passing and bad defensive recoveries. While the team did look a bit better with Mckennie, who should have been starting the game from the beginning rather than reacting to the game when it was already too late to control the game defensively.
For most of the game, what we saw from our midfielders was a lack of urgency, sloppy passing and no creativity. It says it all when in the second half Cristiano Ronaldo was dropping into right midfield to try to cross the ball into Morata, they were for the most part isolated up top, reliant on individual play to create a chance. Against lower skilled teams maybe this works, but on this occasion it was inter and they were defensively organized all match. Inter’s line of three worked together in sync to hold our boys in check for most of the match, it seemed like the team was not able to penetrate inter’s box or get any shots off whatsoever. This links into my next point about the lack of wing play.
In contrast to an Inter team that showed speed on the wing especially through Hakimi, Juve showed quite the opposite with at times no wing presence at all. For the initial structure showed on the lineups, most of us thought Chiesa would be playing out wide on the right and Ramsey somehow on the left, then what we saw was just complete disorganization with Ramsey and Chiesa constantly overlapping with the forwards and in reality Chiesa looking more like a right back for most of the game. We know this to be incredibly obvious, but a lot of Juve’s success over the years has been on the flanks, this not only feeds Ronaldo, but Morata as well. On Sunday, we saw none of this and buildup play that consistently looked too funneled down the middle, where of course Inter stacked the box pretty well. Chiesa was one of the worst players on the pitch in my opinion. He lacked any creativity, he looked to constantly blame other for his bad play and he didn’t really exhibit his pace which we all know he has. While Kulusevski was brought on in the second half, again bringing in this triple substitution was too little too late, the game at this point in the 58th minute was 2-0 in Inter’s favor with a mountain to climb in overcoming it.
In Defense, the game was started in the worst way possible with a painful header by Vidal, to every Juve fan this hurt and it hurt badly, but at least he didn’t celebrate. Both goals were either contributed and or scored by Nicolo Barella. He was given a free roam throughout most of the game by the defense and it cost us dearly. On the first goal, Vidal was wide open and uncovered when Barella’s cross left his foot. Given Vidal’s height, Bonucci and Danilo should have had this easily covered but there was a lapse at the far post as Bonucci came into cover Lautaro and Danilo reacted much too late and let Vidal head in. Again, Vidal was wide open when the cross left Barella, Danilo was caught reacting too late and we were exposed. On the second goal the defense was split far too open. As seen on the reverse camera angle, Barella had a wide open lane down the middle as he recieved a deep ball from Bastoni in his own half. The game was also dominated by Lukaku in hold up play, while he did not score he did a lot and won a lot of headers that he was able to pass on to Lautaro or back to Barella. A lot of us were asking the same question amongst each other as the game ended, is this defense really that bad without De Ligt?
In the end while the scoreline read 2-0 at full-time, in reality the score should have been much more than that, Inter missed several chances that could have easily resulted in a 4, 5-0 defeat. While it can be easy to rush to conclusions following the results of this game, despite everything Juve is not yet out of this title race. To many of us it felt like this game was a wake up call that this year’s Serie A will be a uphill struggle with multiple competitors. We hope that our team can wake up to this reality before it is too late. As always, Forza Juve.
By: Jonathan Pacheco