Inter failed the start of the season, 9th in Serie A, but beat Barcelona in the Champions League. How it was? 

 Inter defeated Barcelona (1:0).  The match turned out to be categorically closed (12 strikes for two) and loud in terms of refereeing (Barca is already preparing a complaint).  But besides boredom and scandals, there were interesting tactical moves in it.  Let’s try to dive into this side of the meeting.

 Simone Inzaghi made a number of bold roster decisions.  Inter approached the match without Marcelo Brozovic.  In Serie A, the young Kristian Aslani replaced him, but the trio of Chalkhanoglu, Barella, Mkhitaryan entered the Champions League without a clean destroyer.  Hakan Calhanoglu played closest to the pivot.  In the attack, Inzaghi did without a big forward – he preferred the mobile pair of Correa-Martinez

 Inter’s moves: total transfer of the ball, personal match against Busquets, Mkhitaryan’s double workload

 Inter set an anti-record for possession for the entire time of Inzaghi’s work – 29%.  No one expected that the Italians would play the first number against Barca, but such a total transfer of the ball to the opponent was not obvious.  For example, against Bayern, Inter were much more willing to play short and press more often (44% of possession).

 Yesterday, the hosts avoided risks in the draw (knocked out in moments where they usually try to play) and limited the pressure to a couple of episodes when Marc-Andre Ter Stegen played from the gate.  This was very different from the behavior of the team in the top matches.  Inter is a very flexible team, but clearly has not yet stretched out in a departure from the usual style.

 The bus strategy was deliberate.  Inter brilliantly embodied it.  Full transfer of the ball to the opponent brought to the fore the game in the stage of positional defense.  In the favorite 5-3-2, Inter have been sitting well since the days of Antonio Conte.  Yesterday, such little things as the return of the three defenders played and a more defensive option on the right flank – Matteo Darmian instead of Denzel Dumfries – also helped.  The layout and displacements were of a very high standard.

  Inside were additional adaptations.  Joaquin Correa played personally for Sergi Busquets.  Correa always kept an eye on Sergi and did a great deal of work in a disciplined manner.  It was him that Inzaghi replaced first in order to keep freshness in this demanding role.  Busquets managed to be severely limited – only 58 assists (of the Barca players who played the entire match, only Ter Stegen and Lewandowski have less).

 These moves left Barça without space and without a conductor.  The result was the same hail of canopies.  Inter also prepared for them.  Suddenly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a key role.

 The main direction of Barcelona is the right flank of Ousmane Dembele.  That’s where most of the submissions came from.  This is a feature of the whole season.  Inzaghi prepared for such innings.  Started in the center, Mkhitaryan never left Federico Dimarco 1-in-1 with Dembele.

 Henrikh required a huge amount of work, and he was simply flawless.  Such a strategy closed Dembele’s exit to a convenient position for a canopy (closer to the center from the depths).  The Frenchman was forced to either hang from the right along the trajectory from the gate (as in the canceled goal), or from the left, but with resistance and from an uncomfortable point.

 They often try to close Dembele’s favorite direction and not leave him 1-in-1 with an extreme defender.  The peculiarity of Inter is that it was the central midfielder who helped Dimarco, and not the defender from the trio (Bastoni).  This meant that Inter had a bonus defender in the penalty area for crosses.  The chain of successes in this direction originates from Mkhitaryan’s amazing amount of work.

 For the first time this season, Inzaghi did not concede in a big match.  Before that, he lost to Roma, Bayern, Milan and Lazio.  For a successful confrontation with Barça, he had to twist the defensive settings to the maximum, but the bet played.  Simone guessed not only with the approach, but also with the details.  Barça found themselves in conditions that are now most inconvenient for them – they could catch on to episodes, but they did not find full-fledged answers to Inter’s parking lot.

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