Inter 0-0 Juventus: defences come out in top in a disappointing Derby D’Italia

October 4, 2010

The starting line-ups

An entertaining first half, but a second period where both sides were happy to take a point.

Juventus were broadly in Luigi Delneri’s favoured 4-4-2 shape, with Fabio Qugliarella dropping to the left, just off Vincenzo Iaquinta. Milos Krasic played on the right and stayed high up the pitch, whilst Claudio Marchisio was tucked in on the opposite side.

Rafael Benitez didn’t consider Diego Milito fit enough to start, so Samuel Eto’o was used upfront with Jonathan Biabiany and Coutinho either side. Ivan Cordoba continued at the back with the captain’s armband.

The usual 4-2-3-1 v 4-4-2 battle did not take place, however, as Juventus shifted their shape accordingly to cope with the extra Inter central midfielder. Marchisio played a lot more centrally than Simone Pepe would have done, sometimes forming a midfield three with Felipe Melo and Alberto Aquilani, but when Quagliarella was caught high up the pitch, Marchisio stayed on the flank. Quagliarella moved out to that side when not in possession, subduing Maicon, and meaning Juventus moved to something more like 4-5-1 themselves without the ball.

Eto’o v Krasic

Inter’s biggest threat came when Eto’o drifted into slightly wider positions on the left and cut inside, with Inter looking to play direct balls to the front, rather than playing through midfield. Juventus were also relying on pace and tricky in wide positions, with Krasic the main danger – his superb ball across the six-yard box was the brightest moment of the first half.

Benitez’s plans had to be changed when Biabiany got injured, meaning he had to bring on Milito, and revert to a system with Eto’o wide on the left, and Coutinho moved across to the right. Eto’o was still a big threat, however, curling a cross to the back post which Milito couldn’t steer on target.

Sneijder deep

One other point from the first half was how deep Wesley Sneijder was for most of the first half, picking up short balls from Esteban Cambiasso and Dejan Stankovic rather than playing just off the main striker, as he did towards the end of last season, and as he appeared to do against Roma last week. His overly optimistic shooting (as seen in recent weeks) was replaced with a more sophisticated playmaking role, where he is at his best.

Both changed their defences at half-time, with Davide Santon and Marco Motta coming on, with Cristian Chivu and Zdenek Grygera moving across the back four. This helped keep the score at 0-0 – Santon was better than Chivu at dealing with Krasic’s pace, whilst Motta did a good job on Eto’o. But both those players went on superb runs that brought saves out of either goalkeeper, and remained the key.

Maicon threat

The only real tactical change of the game when Alessandro Del Piero replaced Vincenzo Iaquinta, which meant he came to his preferred inside-left position, and Quagliarella went across to the right. This changed the way Juve defended against Maicon – instead of moving out to the Brazilian right-back when Juve didn’t have the ball, Del Piero instead picked up one of Inter’s central midfielders. This meant Marchisio had more of a responsibility in taking care of Maicon, but did tend to drift into the centre, leaving Maicon with space to run into. This was a dangerous tactic, especially considering how Maicon punished Juventus in this fixture last season.

It was Maicon who had the game’s best chance – though with a header from a corner, rather than from open play. Quagliarella came close after he outpaced Lucio to a through-ball, but he couldn’t finish.

The game was goalless largely because neither side wanted to take the initiative – Juventus were content with a point and felt no need to throw men forward, whilst Inter seemed happy to play on the counter-attack – Milito didn’t look 100% fit, and they struggled for invention upfront. It wasn’t a bore 0-0, but 0-0 was an accurate reflection of the game: neither fully on top, and good defending more obvious than any attacking brilliance.

Conclusion

The main tactical interest was how Juventus dealt with the theoretical numerical disadvantage in midfield, playing one ‘winger’ very narrow, and getting a striker to track a full-back. This is a reasonably popular solution for sides who prefer 4-4-2 but are afraid of facing the usual problems against a 4-2-3-1, but it requires a lot of running and concentration from the striker asked to drop back. It largely worked, however – Maicon was quiet until the tactical switch from Juve that gave him more space on the right.

In all, both sides will be content with both the performance and the result.

Inter 0-0 Juventus: defences come out in top in a disappointing Derby D’Italia

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