Team

Feb 2nd 2021

The second leg is on 9 February in Turin: Sanchez and Vidal will both miss the game


MILAN - How can we explain this defeat? We start off with this question, which seems necessary after a 2-1 defeat to Juventus. Because if you rethink, re-analyse and rewind the tape of the first leg of this semi-final, you really have to wonder where and how the Nerazzurri were able to come out on top. They took the lead in the 8th minute with a great goal from Lautaro and then capitulated in the space of nine minutes: first giving away a penalty for Young’s foul on Cuadrado and then a mix-up between Bastoni and Handanovic to allow Ronaldo in to score his brace. The second half was unlucky: Inter were determined and more aggressive and came close to scoring the equaliser on several occasions. Demiral and Buffon somehow managed to maintain Juve's lead. In Turin, in seven days' time, the team will need to pull off a feat of epic proportions. Vidal and Sanchez will miss our through suspension.

Inter’s practically perfect performance in the league in January dominated the build-up to the game: Pirlo changed the system and attitude of his Juventus side, who lined up in a 4-4-2 today, with Kulusevski tasked with dropping deeper to man-mark Brozovic. Conte’s 3-5-2 once again had the Croat deployed in the heart of midfield, with Darmian on the right in place of the suspended Hakimi and Sanchez paired with Lautaro up front.

The Bianconeri began at breakneck speed, pressing high and nullifying any Inter attempts to break out. The press did leave plenty of space between the midfield and defence though, which Sanchez benefited from as he intelligently dropped to occupy the gaps, receive the ball and distribute, finding Barella flying down the right, where he had hurt Juventus in the league. Again, an assist against the Bianconeri came from his foot as he found an eager Lautaro in the penalty area. El Toro breezed past De Ligt and beat Buffon.

Inter began to look the better side after taking the lead but Juve kicked up another gear. As it was, two episodes of utter calamity in the space of nine minutes turn the game on its head. First, the penalty to make it 1-1, which was awarded by Calvarese after an on-field review for a foul by Young on Cuadrado. Ronaldo did not miss from the spot. Juve’s second came in the 35th minute from a total misunderstanding between Bastoni and Handanovic, which allowed Ronaldo in to stroke home into an empty net.

It was a tough and unexpected blow to take, not least because Inter had gifted the guests both goals. In spite of their territorial dominance, Juventus never really looked like creating anything.

The score-line at the end of the first half was a harsh one. Inter knew this and, without having a strop, they raised their game, tempo and intensity. Juventus, to tell the truth, came close to scoring with Bernardeschi, denied by a great save from Handanovic. But apart from that, it was all Inter. Flashy, counter-attacking, aggressive and promising. Always on the front foot. The high level of pressure often forced mistakes out of Juventus; Vidal won the ball back in a great spot, setting up Sanchez to fire at goal, only to be blocked incredibly by Demiral on the line.

These were good signs, but the Nerazzurri were not rewarded for their efforts – they did well to create chances, but Juventus dropped deep into their own half and stifled them. But Inter were still eager, they pressed and carried on with the build-up. Brozovic picked up the pace, and it looked like an equaliser was on the cards with the usual suspect Sanchez weaving in and out of the Bianconeri jerseys to set up Darmian: his strike, taken on his left, was kept out by Buffon, a stop which literally saved the day for Juventus.

The pressure was still on, notwithstanding the growing fatigue: Eriksen, having just come on, took one of the final attempts. Inter finished with nine attempts in the second half alone but Juventus held the line, in a semi-final packed with both intensity and anxiety, as well as lots of bookings: Vidal and Sanchez, both given yellows, will miss the second leg.

Speaking of which: Tuesday Inter will have to pull out all the stops in Turin next Tuesday to make up for this frustrating and undeserved 2-1 loss. The grit demonstrated in the second half and the sheer will of this team should only serve to encourage us. But first of all, there’s the game against Fiorentina, on Friday.

MATCH CENTER

MATCH DETAILS

INTER (3-5-2): 1 Handanovic; 37 Skriniar, 6 de Vrij, 95 Bastoni (99 Pinamonti 85'); 36 Darmian, 23 Barella, 77 Brozovic (12 Sensi 85'), 22 Vidal ( 24 Eriksen 73'), 15 Young (14 Perisic 66'); 7 Sanchez, 10 Lautaro.Substitutes: 27 Padelli, 97 Radu, 5 Gagliardini, 8 Vecino, 11 Kolarov, 13 Ranocchia, 33 D'Ambrosio.Coach Antonio Conte.

JUVENTUS (4-4-2): 77 Buffon; 16 Cuadrado, 28 Demiral, 4 De Ligt, 12 Alex Sandro; 14 McKennie (3 Chiellini 90'), 30 Bentancur (5 Arthur 76'), 25 Rabiot, 33 Bernardeschi (13 Danilo 70');  44 Kulusevski (22 Chiesa 90'), 7 C. Ronaldo (9 Morata 76').Substitutes: 1 Szczesny, 31 Pinsoglio, 19 Bonucci, 37 Dragusin, 38 Frabotta, 41 Fagioli, 51 Peeters.Coach: Andrea Pirlo.

Goalscorers: 9' Lautaro (I), 26' C. Ronaldo su rig. (J), 35' C. Ronaldo (J)Bookings: Demiral (J), Alex Sandro (J), Vidal (I), Young (I) C. Ronaldo (J), De Ligt (J), Arthur (J), Sanchez (I), Morata (J).Added time: 1' - 4'.

Referee: Calvarese.Linesmen: Carbone e PerettiFourth Official: Massa.VAR: Irrati.Assistant VAR: Paganessi.


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