We always thought this was going to be a complicated group, and so it’s proving to be. Once again, Inter came away feeling deflated last night. Following the Nerazzurri’s 2-0 defeat to Real Madrid, captain Handanovic made an important point: "The pitch doesn’t lie, but Real won thanks to our mistakes."
Making an already difficult game even harder was unfortunately what Inter managed to do. It was a night where everything went wrong. It started with the Nerazzurri giving a penalty away as early as the sixth minute and it continued when Vidal was given his marching orders just as Conte’s men were starting to apply some pressure. Then, during ten-man Inter’s best spell of the game, Rodrygo struck a decisive blow just 32 seconds after coming on.
Zinedine Zidane’s Real were without Benzema and Ramos, while Casemiro started on the bench. Carvajal was chosen as the team’s right-back, with Lucas Vazquez playing higher up the pitch compared to what he’s been used to. Mariano Diaz was named as Los Blancos’ centre-forward in a 4-2-3-1 formation that saw the young Ødegaard play behind him and in front of two huge names in the game, Kroos and Modric. Inter were unable to conjure up a response against a Real Madrid side that only gained momentum after taking an early lead. Toni Kroos produced a particularly impressive performance: he completed 127 of his 130 passes, 86 of which came in the Nerazzurri half. With his 145 touches, he moved the ball and his opponents around masterfully, picking out his teammates at will.
On the other hand, Inter suffered, unable to shut down the German’s vision and passing. To make matters more difficult, the Nerazzurri’s midfield failed to provide Inter’s forwards with any service: Lautaro was unable to register a shot, Lukaku missed a free kick and Sanchez had an effort blocked. The only Nerazzurri player that was truly able to cause Courtois trouble was Perisic, who came on in the second half full of energy. He had two good chances, two shots struck fiercely with his left foot, but failed to find the back of the net.
The number of passes attempted and completed by Real Madrid stands out, although the fact that they had a numerical advantage from the 33rd minute certainly helped. Indeed, they managed 794 passes compared with the Nerazzurri’s 480. On a night in which the visitors managed 14 shots (five on target and one which hit the post), Antonio Conte tried to shake things up in the second half: after the break, Inter took to the pitch in a 4-4-1 formation that gradually morphed into a 4-2-3 to put pressure on Real Madrid’s players.
Milan Skriniar was among the best players on the pitch, a claim backed up by the fact that he completed 68 out of 74 passes and recovered the ball on nine occasions, more than any other Nerazzurri player.