DORTMUND - It’s tough to analyse, speak about, or even to accept such a painful defeat. Inter return from Dortmund having scored two great goals in an almost perfect first half, but after three second-half goals from the home side the Nerazzurri come back empty-handed. The 3-2 result at full-time is a tough one to swallow, especially in light of the two excellent goals scored in the first half by Lautaro Martinez and Matias Vecino. The defeat recalls memories of the result in Barcelona as the Nerazzurri once again lost their hold on the game after a superb first half. Just like at Camp Nou, Inter lost a lead and went on to lose the game too, with all the hope from the early stages of the game snatched away with the full-time whistle.
Some of the numbers capture the difference between the two halves for either team. Inter saw their attacking creativity cut in half in the second period, their shots dropping from six to three, including that last-minute effort from Sensi that had all Inter fans dreaming of a draw. Favre’s side, however, upped their game after being 2-0 down: after seven shots in the first 45 minutes, they then went on to have 14 in the second half.
Last night Borussia Dortmund were carried by Achraf Hakimi, the 21-year-old Moroccan right-back on loan from Real Madrid. Already amongst the goals after a brace against Slavia Prague, Hakimi repeated this feat. His work all over the pitch brought the Germans success: three chances created, four shots (more than any attacking player), four crosses and a relentless threat on the counterattack. The heart and soul of Borussia Dortmund.
But the Nerazzurri’s first half did show some positives for Conte’s players. Lautaro Martinez was back on the scoresheet on his 50th Inter appearance as he scored his third goal in a row in the Champions League, once again with his first shot of the game. Thanks to the goals from Lautaro and Vecino, Inter have now scored in every single one of their 15 games this season, a highly positive statistic.
In the first half, Inter put together some excellent moves with Brozovic, who inspired the Nerazzurri’s second goal, in the thick of the action. But then there was the second half full of aimless passes as fatigue set in following many matches in quick succession. As usual, the Croatian midfielder finished the match with a high percentage of successful passes (92%), but it was Borussia Dortmund who had the majority of possession as Inter focused on getting the ball forward more quickly (and with great success at the beginning of the game).
The Nerazzurri’s defenders were very much called into action, and the numbers are testament to the amount of duels that Dortmund managed to bring about. Godin won the ball back on eight occasions, De Vrij made seven clearances, while Skriniar made five interceptions. One man who made a big contribution for the hosts after the restart was Witsel, who got on the ball and played it on 109 occasions, got stuck in on a consistent basis and won all of the aerial battles he was involved in. He gave Dortmund’s attack substance and decisiveness.
For the Nerazzurri, who were practically left with ten men on the pitch in the closing stages (Politano, on as Inter’s final substitute, took a knock having just entered the pitch and was therefore only able to put half a shift in), it’s by no means over in the Champions League: two wins will see Inter progress to the last 16. However, it's now time to think about Saturday’s clash at San Siro against Hellas Verona. The support of all Nerazzurri fans will be needed.