Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

A mundane semi-final win for Inter over AC Milan

May 17, 2023 — There was no moment of genius from Rafael Leao, resulting in a mundane match that allowed Inter to easily reach the Champions League final, eliminating AC Milan.

The match desperately required such a moment because AC Milan had no ideas.

Inter’s pressing was not as aggressive as in the first leg, giving AC Milan more space on the flanks. However, Inter’s strong defensive structure, particularly their solid back-line, successfully foiled every attempt by AC Milan to create chances.

Figure 1.1 - Sandro Tonali breaks past two defenders and then crosses on the ground in the direction of the penalty spot.

They were not always sound. The one big chance of the match came when Sandro Tonali broke down the line. Inter were attracted towards the ball, leaving two men free close to the penalty spot.

The ball fell to Brahim Diaz, and he fluffed his shot.

Figure 2.1 - Rafael Leao surrounded 3v1 on the break.

While others played great, Rafael Leao was the AC Milan forward who looked more likely to score.

Inter knew this going into the game, and they were quick to surround and force Leao to the outside, never letting him cut in for a shot.

Show him outside, let him shoot at an awkward angle, and block all passing lanes into the other AC Milan forwards on the far side.

Figure 3.1 - Inter's counter-pressing structure.

AC Milan had a fair bit of trouble passing out of their own end and elected to kick the ball long on most possessions. That allowed Inter to sit back, man-mark, and wait for the long pass.

The main battle in this match was to win the aerial duels.

Figure 4.1 - Inter's defensive structure when defending in their own end.

If AC Milan got into Inter’s end of the field, they would have to get past their patient wall of defenders.

Patience is the key because AC Milan seemed unable or uninterested in attempting to play through Inter’s second and back lines.

Brahim Diaz was open on a number of occasions in the right half-space, but he was ignored in favor of the wide pass and looping the ball into no one, wasting precious chances.

AC Milan’s forwards had no chance of scoring.

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