Roma hosted Inter in the Stadio Olimpico in this week 7’s fixture. Both teams fielded a 4-3-3 formation. Roma transitioned to a 4-2-3-1 with a two-layered midfield during the defensive phase. Florenzi joined Perotti and Salah to form the front layer while De Rossi and Strootman form the back layer during the defensive phase. Inter also fielded a 4-3-3 formation where they transitioned to a 4-5-1 during the defensive phase. A notable change in their line-up is Ansaldi replaced D’Ambrosio as the right full-back.
Spalletti’s tactics are simple in this game. He wanted to take full advantage of Dzeko’s height and Salah’s speed in the offensive phase. Procession does not matter for them. What they wanted to achieve was to release Salah and Perrotti deep into the Inter’s half with 1vs.1 situations against Inter defenders. Both of these players are very quick and have excellent skills. Salah’s speed is especially terrifying. To do that, they tried to speed up the defense-to-offense transition as quickly as possible.
Inter is excellent at carrying out high press to disrupt opponent’s buildup. Pressing is a risky tactic. To conduct a successful press against an opponent, a team has to commit multiple players to tackle or attack the opponent’s defenders. This commitment of players often leaves a lot of space behind. If the opponent broke through the presses, it often results in dangerous opportunities for the opponent.
Being pressed was not a problem for Roma in this game. Roma did not want or need to enter the offensive phase through build-up. Dzeko’s physicality allows Roma’s defenders to get past Inter’s presses with single long forward passes using him as the target man.
Dzeko won almost all of his aerial duels against Inter’s players in this game. In comparison, Murillo won 2/7 while Miranda won 3/8 of their aerial duels.
Roma’s commitment to using Dzeko as their target man allows them to advance the ball to the dangerous area with single long passes.
This straightforward and direct way to push the ball has two advantages: Firstly, it increased the tempo of Roma’s offense in this game and therefore, the probability that other Roma’s players would face 1vs.1 against Inter’s defenders. Secondly, instead of being involved in the build-up to help to advance the ball, Perotti, Florenzi and especially Salah could prepare to attack Inter’s defense through Dzeko’s headers or passes.
Roma’s targeted press
Other than long passes, Roma tried to create very quick defense-to-offense transition using targeted press against Inter’s midfielders and full-backs. Frank De Boer has mainly used a 4-3-3 formation this season. During the build-up, the two full backs often push forward and join Medel (and sometimes Joao Mario) to maximize the passing lanes for their center backs. During their defensive phase, Roma would target and press intensively aginst these four players.
Here Roma players first pressed Santon, then Medel and finally Ansaldi. Roma mostly used a man-mark system when carrying out these presses (Salah-Santon, Florenzi-Medel, Perotti-Ansaldi, Strootman-Joao Mario). In particular, the two full-backs of Inter were the major target of these presses. Medel and Inter’s two center backs lack passing ranges to send the ball to Inter’s attackers. The full backs often serve as the links between them and Banega, Candreva and Perisic. Pressing them successfully can disrupt Inter’s build-up. Below are all of Roma’s tackles and interceptions in this game. Most of them occurred at the two flanks.
Salah’s incredible speed
The speed of Perotti, Florenzi and Salah is a constant problem for Inter. In particularly, Salah was terrorizing Inter’s defense. Inter had no answer for him. The GIF below summarizes how FAST Salah is.
Roma’s quick defense-to-offense transition, their targeted presses in the midfield and Salah’s incredible speed resulted in very direct attack from Roma. In this game, Roma only had bout 37% of the procession. However, Roma generated a similar number of shots as Inter (19 vs. 18). Moreover, 60% of Roma’s passes were forward passes (the season average is only about 50% for Serie A teams).
Banega is the only Inter player who can produce creative passes. They rely on his penetrative passes to create chances. For example, Inter had seven successful passes towards Roma’s box in this game. Banega generated 4 of them. De Rossi man-marked him for a majority of the match and prevented him from creating too many chances in the middle. However, Inter had a lot more success at the flanks. Perotti and Salah positioned very high to press Inter’s players, and they were also involved in almost all of Roma’s attacks. It sometimes left Jesus and Peres very vulnerable when they did not get back in time. Moreover, they also lack the proper defense instinct. The Roma’s full-backs were often in a 1vs.2 situation against Inter’s wingers and full-backs.
Here because Perotti was caught between pressing Banega or getting back to mark Candreva, Jesus had to tackle Candreva when once Banega passed him the ball. Fazio had to mark Joao Mario initially, leaving Ansaldi open and he ran to the by-line to catch a pass from Candreva. He eventually crossed the ball before Fazio could tackle him.
Ansaldi and Candreva also had multiple beautiful positional plays along the right side:
Moreover, Inter had a lot of success to counter attack Roma when Perotti or Salah were caught out of position to protect the full-backs.
Roma should really have finished the game in the first half. Salah wasted many chances, especially two 1vs.1 chance against Handanovic. They almost lost the three points if not for those very well designed Roma’s free-kicks. Not being able to finish chances would not do them any good against teams like Napoli or Juventus. Their defense is also a worry, where their formation leaves their two full-backs very vulnerable.
For Inter, their offense functions properly when a game is open (or when they can successfully press their opponents). However, there was still the same problem where they had a hard time to attack their opponents through build-up efficiently. Banega is the heart and soul of almost every Inter’s attack. It can be a problem in the future when the opposing teams decide to man-mark him the whole game. A bright, positive point is Ansaldi. He looks like an upgrade over D’Ambrosio in the offense. He got to the by-line multiple times and also had several positional plays with Canreva. However, whether it is enough to function in Frank de Boer’s 4-3-3 system is still a question yet to be answered.
My pick for the man of the match is Dzeko. He is the most important player in Roma’s offensive phase today.
All of data are from www.fourfourtwo.com statzone
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