With second place of Group C in the Champions League at stake within match-week three, it was Inter who shocked Barcelona in a surprising 1-0 victory at the San Siro.
In terms of starting lineups, Inzaghi made numerous changes to the drawing board from Inter’s trip to Viktoria Plzen as the gaffer started Stefan De Vrij over Francesco Acerbi. In addition, he selected Henrik Mkhitaryan to play in the midfield following Marcelo Brozovic’s unavailability due to injury.
Furthermore, the Italian tactician turned towards full-backs Federico Dimarco and Matteo Darmian to replace out-of-form duo Denzel Dumfries and Robin Gosens, as well as pairing Joaquin Correa with Lautaro Martinez within the front-line in exchange for the Bosinian veteran Edin Dzeko.
Looking towards the other side, all remains the same for the Spanish giants since their 2-0 defeat for Bayern Munich except for some alterations within the back-line as Eric Garcia fills in for Ronald Araujo, as well as Sergi Roberto playing in the right-back position in exchange for the French international Jules Kounde.
Within the opening minutes of the fixture, it was Barcelona who dominated the majority of the possession. However, the Catalonian giants had a difficult time breaking down Inter’s low defensive block as Inzaghi’s men were extremely compact.
It was Hakan Calhanoglu who got the opening chance with a long-range screamer within five minutes of the fixture, which was brilliantly stopped by Ter Stegen with extraordinary acrobatics.
Despite Andreas Christensen’s header following Raphina’s well-delivered cross, as well as Robert Lewandowski’s poorly hit shot from outside the box that was brilliantly set up by Ousmane Demebele, the La Liga giants failed to pose any significant threat to Inter’s defensive shape.
Center-back duo Milan Skriniar and Stefan De Vrij made challenges that were perfectly timed and showed no signs of fear when stepping up into aerial duels. In addition, Matteo Darmian and Federico Dimarco did brilliantly to use their pace to win the ball quickly in transition and apply pressure on Barcelona’s wingers.
Within the 20th, De Vrij distributed a perfectly weighted pass to find Lautaro Martinez into space. After taking a shot on target, the ball hit the hand of Barcelona’s defence, causing Inter to urge for a clear penalty. However, a potential penalty shot was ruled off as the 25 year-old was narrowly offside.
Shortly after, Dimarco distributed a sublime pass to allow Correa to push on the break all alone. The Argentine weaved around Ter Stegen and tucked the ball into the back of the net to hand the Milanese club the lead. However, Correa’s opener was ruled off following another offside call against Inter.
From then on, the Nerazzurri eased into the high-tensed fixture as they circulated the ball with confidence and distributed diagonal balls out-wide from the central area of the pitch into spaces that were created by Xavi’s full-backs pushing extremely high when in-possession. Consequently, this caused the Spanish outfit quite a handful of trouble.
At last, with less than a minute remaining until the closure of the first half, the deadlock was broken as Dimarco laid the ball off for Calhanoglu outside the box. The Turkish international went full-fledged for goal as he buried a stunning low-driven strike from far out in order to hand Inter the lead within a vital fixture shortly before the break.
Within the second half, Inter continued where they left off as they continued their extraordinary defensive display. Inzaghi’s men demonstrated passion and courage as they through their bodies on the line to make exceptional blocks within the box and made stunning tackles to break Barcelona’s build-up plays.
Within the 67th minute, it seemed like Inter’s hopes of clinching three points faded away as Pedri cushioned the ball past the Nerazzurri goal to make the score-line level following a howler from Onana.
Luckily for Inzaghi’s side, Pedri’s equalizer was chalked off following VAR as it was clear that the ball touched Ansu Fati’s hand prior to the goal, providing the supporters at the San Siro with an enormous sigh of relief.
Despite Barcelona having the majority of the possession within the last 20 minutes, Inter’s water-tight defensive structure was far too solid for Barcelona to slice through. Barcelona’s set-pieces were cut-out perfectly by the three centre-backs, and the shot-stopper Onana showed no signs of fear as he continuously stepped off his line in order to keep the three points well within La Beneamata’s grasp.
In the end, although the match felt like an eternity, it was Inter who sealed all three points following their marvellous defence performance against Barcelona. Inzaghi demonstrated his ability to manage such a high-profile match as his tactical substitutions in order to provide defensive reinforcements and inject energy within the three in the midfield was spot-on.
With Inter sending shock-waves across Europe, the Nerazzurri currently sit in second place within Group C as they possess a total of six points, three points behind the Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.
Inzaghi hopes that this huge result will help his side gain confidence in order to improve their poor run of form within the Serie A as they won four and lost four within their opening eight fixtures.