Real Madrid and Inter were, ‘a priori’, the two favorite candidates from the B group stage to advance to the next round of the Champions League. However, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Shaktar Donetsk have put both teams in trouble. After last night´s scores, Germans and Spanish seem to be on a better position to make it through. Actually, Madrid got their first win of te season in this competition against the Italian squad.
They keys from the match:
Madrid´s defensive approach in the first half consisted on pressing Inter forward and force them to send long balls. There are two factors to take into account: Inter ´s goal is usually to attract the opponent to their half so they can send throws to their striker Lukaku. This way, he starts all the offensive actions and provides the full-backs or midfielders with passes that allow them to make runs constantly. However, this time the Belgian was out for an injury, and this created a huge weakness on Conte´s offensive system, as Lautaro does not have physical strength and needs the ability from Lukaku to make it work.
Ramos and Varane earned most of their duels against the Argentinian and Perišić in the air balls. Overall, The Whites´defense shown secureness in the first half: intensity in every action and made the right ‘timing’ choices of when to go up and when to fall back. On the other hand, the most repeated play offensively was carried out in three steps: Madrid dragged Inter to the left side of the pitch; then they would send the ball to Lucas Vázquez on the right; finally he would assist in the ground to Valverde or Kroos in order to take a shot from outside the box.
Madrid´s good job in the first half gave them two goals. Lautaro put Inter back in the game in the 35th minute (2-1) thanks to a brilliant assist by Barella. However, it was in the second half when the ‘nerazzurri’ really improved and forced Real Madrid to fall back. Zidane´s team lost intensity and pressing capacity, which Inter took advantage of to create danger opportunities in the counterattack. This way, thet got the equalizer thanks to a goal by Perišić in the 68th minute.
Spaces came up and the Italians took the deal and looked for fast transitions that gave them a couple clear scoring opportunities. However, Zidane´s substitutions held Inter back: Valverde connected with Vinicius in the left wing and forced Inter to run backwards. The Brazilian assisted to his countryman and Rodrygo scored the winning goal (3-2).
Conte´s players got a huge punch and ran out of time to find the equalizer. We must also point out Mendy´s outstanding performance as a full-back: he managed to stop Achraf Hakimi, Inter´s stab in the right wing. This way,‘nerazurri’ s main offensive arguments were neutralized.
Madrid´s first 45 minutes allowed them to take the three points. However, their poor second half almost made them to end with just a point. Now Inter are the ones who have to take a step forward in the next game if they want to fight for the qualify.