Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Aggressive Inter heavily relies on Alessandro Bastoni

May 22, 2023 — Napoli exposed Inter’s weakness yesterday. They depend a lot on left center-back Alessandro Bastoni, and if you can pressure him, you have a good chance of forcing a turnover.

Figure 1.1 - Joaquin Correa cycles back, dragging a defender, as Nicolo Barella makes a run.

Napoli were affording Alessandro Bastoni a lot of space on the ball, while Inter cycled players off the ball to create space for Bastoni to play long vertical passes to.

Figure 1.2 - Alessandro Bastoni plays the ball long to Nicolo Barella.
Figure 1.3 - Nicolo Barella in a foot race.
Figure 1.4 - Nicolo Barella brings down the ball with his back to goal, and no outlet.

Nicolo Barella is not the fastest, and Inter doesn’t have many fast options to make runs behind defenses.

That is a problem if a team can structure their defense, like Napoli did, to block the short pass and cover the long pass.

Figure 1.5 - Nicolo Barella loses the ball and Napoli attempt to play out from the back.
Figure 1.6 - Inter aggressively counter-press with five forwards.

When Inter lost the ball, they usually looked to aggressively counter-press with four to five players.

Figure 1.7 - Napoli get past the counter-press but Inter take out the ball carrier, to not allow them to run into open space behind the counter-press.

If they can’t win the ball back, they take out the man.

We learned during Inter’s first leg Champions League semi-final match against AC Milan that they can be vulnerable on the counter.

All it takes is one vertical ball over the top of those five players to create a high-quality chance against Inter’s three-to-five man rest defense.

Figure 2.1 - Inter's out-of-possession 5-3-2 shape.

When Inter feel the need to be conservative, they switch to a 5-3-2 low block. They are very patient and wait for mistakes rather than take unnecessary risks by jumping out to challenge the ball.

It’s a controlled aggression. When they go for the ball, they are all-in on the challenge, but always structured in a way that doesn’t fully compromise their defense.

Figure 3.1 - Inter's man-to-man counter-pressing structure.

When they feel bold, they use their man-to-man counter-press, which gave Napoli very few options to pass out short.

They tried the odd Hail Mary pass to Victor Osimhen over the top but it wasn’t accurate or effective.

Figure 5.1 - Alessandro Bastoni passes long, into space.
Figure 6.1 - Another Alessandro Bastoni long pass, into space.

The common theme of the first half remained: Alessandro Bastoni was constantly finding space.

He was the main creator to progress the ball.

Figure 7.1 - Napoli overload Inter's right side, forcing them to pass back and out to Alessandro Bastoni.
Figure 7.2 - Alessandro Bastoni passes long, into space.

Napoli needed to pressure Bastoni. Stop him and Inter will have trouble transitioning into attack.

Figure 8.1 - Napoli pressures Alessandro Bastoni, forcing him to pass back to Andre Onana.
Figure 8.2 - Andre Onana passes long, and the ball goes out of play.

When Napoli did apply pressure, they quickly won back the ball. Limit Bastoni’s space and force Inter to play through their right side. They then shouldn’t be able to play out from the back as easily.

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