Tactical Analysis: Juventus @ Inter 1-2 09/18/2016 Inter’s determination wins the game

This is the first derby D’Italia of this season. Juventus visited Inter with the usual 3-5-2 formation. Pjanic replaced Lemina as the central defensive midfielder. Inter fielded a 4-3-3/4-3-2-1 formation. It switched between from a 4-3-3 (a high press) to a 4-5-1 (deep defense) in the defensive phase. Both teams did not perform well offensively. However, with determined efforts and targeted strategies, Inter eventually captured all three points.

Tactically, Juventus did not do anythings very differently compared to their previous games. Today we focused on the tactics utilized by Inter.

Inter’s defensive strategy

High press

To contain the very capable passing abilities of the three Juventus’s center backs, Inter often employed a very high press in this game, especially in the first half.


This is the typical setup of a Inter’s high press. This is a trap press. The goal is to prevent Juventus from building up with their 3 defenders. The spacing between Inter’s players are very important for this press, because they need to maintain a proper distance between them. If the distances are too long or too short, it would be very easy for Juventus to break through. When pressing, Inter players also move synchronously. This allows them to minimize the passing angles and lanes, and therefore the pressure of the press on Juventus’ players. Here is an example:


The arrows show the potential movement of Inter’s players when they press. There are two directions this press would be carried out (black and blue). Buffon can’t pass to the central three players so he can only pass to Chiellini or Benatia, who position close to the two corners. Passes to them trigger the press.


You can see how much closer Inter’s players are to the ball and the press can exert so much pressure. Benatia can only pass to Buffon and it results in a long ball / clearance.

Inter often employed this strategy in the first 30 minutes of the game. Juventus had a really hard time to build up their attacks during this period. They only started to build up properly when Inter stopped pressing as effective in the later period.

High defensive line

In order for a press like this to work, Inter had to maintain a very compact shape during the game. They often maintained a very high half-defense line when their attackers pressed Juventus players.


This high defensive line is critical for their press to work. Not only it helps them to build pressure on Juventus players. It also confines most of the plays in Juventus’s half. This is a self-amplification cycle, with the press being more intense, the higher the defensive line it has to be, and in turn generates more pressures.

Midfield block

There are two defensive formations Inter used in this game. If they could not carry out a high press, Inter would often sit deep with 5 players in the midfield.


There are some variations on how the 5 midfielders would position. Depending on where the ball is, sometimes one player would press or sometimes one player would sit slightly deeper than the others. However, one key element is that at least 4 players would set up a horizontal line.


When Eder decides to press the ball handler, Joao Mario immediately moves to fill his position while the other three midfielders move back to maintain a horizontal defensive line.


The major function of the horizontal defensive line is to minimize penetrations and passing lanes through the middle. This set-up, combined with the high defensive line Inter often used, results in very compact defense vertically.


Such compact defense and midfield lines provide security that even when Juventus could penetrate their midfield, Inter’s defenders can immediately attack Juventus players. Inter also played very compact defense horizontally. This is necessary for them to maintain their pressures on the advancing Juventus players. Their defensive tactics worked very well for them in this game:

Inter’s interceptions in this game:


Inter’s tackles in this game:


There are many successful tackles and interceptions in the midfield area.

Inter’s offensive strategy

There are three major elements for Inter’s offensive strategy in this game

Overhead pass that targets the 3-5-2 formation

A systematic weakness of Juventus’ 3-5-2 (or most 3-5-2) is the space between the wing backs and the left / right center backs.


Inter tried to exploit this weakness of Juventus throughout the game. Here is an example:

int juv 1st half eng.png

int juv 1st half eng(1).png

D’Ambrosio in particular consistently sends these types of overhead passes to Candreva. He often tries to run behind Alex sandro. But it did not work very well in the game.


D’Ambrosio sent many medium / long passes sent to these areas. Although it did not work in the game, it does show that Frank De Boer had a plan to attack Juventus’ weakness where it was quite consistently carried out by the players.

Counter attack

What Inter did very well in this game is their counter attacks. Their midfield block and the high defense line often results in a lot of tackles and interceptions in the area close to the midfield. But the most important thing for them is that they played with an lightening speed in their defensive-to-offensive transition. Consider this sequence of events of an Inter’s counter attack.

There are 7 Juventus players and 9 Inter players (not counting the goalie). Icardi is facing two Juventus defenders (all not shown in the capture). So in a counter attack sense, there are 1 Inter player vs 3 Juventus players.


Now Inter is starting their counter attack.



By this stage, if you only count the players in front of the ball handlers, there are already 5 Inter players (not including the ball handlers) vs 6 Juventus players.


In the end there is a 5 v 5 situation.

The another notable thing is that Inter attacks in numbers during these types of counter attacks. It also creates a byproduct situation that when they lose the ball, there are many Inter players nearby. It allows them to immediately attack the ball (counter-press). This is important because even they did not get the ball most of the time, they bought time for the team to set up either a high press or return to the midfield block defense.


His speed and power caused a lot of problems for Juventus in this game. I don’t need to discuss this in details if you have watched the game (and I assume you already did if you are reading this). I am just gonna show you this data:

Passes received by Icardi


Most of them are received in very dangerous areas. Many of them are from long passes that are more difficult for strikers to get.


Tactically speaking,  both teams did quite well defensively (well other than the goals, which are the results of the lack of attention).  Juventus players never really got caught out of positions and if they did, other players were very quick to fill the gap. And even though Inter attacked with speed and number, they were not creating any real chances. As we discussed, Inter played very well defensively.

Offensively, both teams did not play well, largely because of the better defenses from both teams. The game was really won by determination of Inter. You can see how often multiple Inter players ran together to attack or to defend. They create overloads everywhere. Truly a teamwork performance. They strategies might not have directly resulted in a goal. But their tactics definitely wore Juventus players out. And when you are tired, you are more likely to make a mistake.

For Juventus, their 3-5-2 is used for such a long time that all other teams must know their strengths and weaknesses in & out. You will probably see many other teams to play these kinds of high press against them. It is a systematic issue for them because if you can’t build from the three center backs, what is the point of playing a 3-5-2. Many people call for them to change the formation. But the truth is that in both games against Sevilla and Inter, they could have walked out with two wins if things were slightly different. So the argument continues.

For Inter, their defense and determination won the game.However there are still issues. For example, if you watch this game again and follow every one of their presses, you will find that as the game progressed, their presses became less and less effective. And when you watch these ineffective presses, you will find that their players did not move synchronously. A press that is not synchronous is NOT a press.It may be due to fatigue (two of their players cramped out). It may also be a result of players not used to the system. The second issue is a systematic issue for their tactics. They try to play overloads everywhere so their players stay very close to each other. If a team spreads the play well the full-back will always find himself 1vs1 with the winger. Just think about the problems of Atletico Madrid. You can see how many times Alex sandro / Asamoah successfully got to the byline when Juventus managed to spread those plays. The third issue is their offensive phase, where they are still lack of ideas when attacking a settled defense.

Man-of-the-match: Many people say Icardi. I will say Joao Mario.

All of data are from www.fourfourtwo.com statzone

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