The new Internazionale of Antonio Conte
With the new head coach Antonio Conte at the stear wheel of Internazionale, the club from Milan is trying to breach the reign of Juventus in the Italian Serie A. In the past transfer window, the Nerazzurri spend millions to reinforce the team. The most notable players who strengthened the team are Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United), Matteo Politano (who played already on loan for Inter last season), Stefano Sensi (on loan from Sassuolo), Diego Godín (Atlético Madrid) and Alexis Sanchez (on loan from Manchester United). Amongst others, Mauro Icardi, Ivan Perisic and Radja Nainggolan left the club.
Let’s focus on the changes in Inter’s attack. Poacher Mauro Icardi left to play for PSG in France. Inter already had a back-up for him in Lautaro Martínez, who has a similarity score based on our Player Roles model of 99%. Martínez was used to play in the same role as Icardi, but Conte decided to bring in Romelu Lukaku and play them both upfront in a 1-3-5-2 formation. Both players played as a poacher and mobile striker, but Lukaku also has the physical characteristics to play as a target man. Based on the Contribution Ratings, Lukaku added more to his team based on the shots he took whereas Martinez especially stands out for the value of his crosses, dribbles and take ons.
Obviously, the changes led to a change in style of play. If we compare basic team statistics of the current with the past season, some of them stayed, in terms of absolute numbers, on the same level. These are stats like the amount of passes, shot volume, pressing statistics and final third entries. However, others indicate the change. Last season, Inter was the team in the Serie A with the highest amount of crosses (24,5 per 90 minutes), whereas this number decreased in this season to 16,0 per 90 minutes. The number of aerial duels decreased and the team also dribbles less (29,9 per 90 minutes compared to 21,5 in the current season) but is more often in offside position.
Image 1. The heatmaps show the shift in the use of crosses in the two seasons. In the current season, the team takes less crosses, is more focused on the right side and on higher positions on the field. Influential player in crossing from the left flank Ivan Perisic left the club.
We can go more in depth on how the change of style affected the creation of goal attempts. We analysed both the goal attempts from last season and the current season based on event data and will highlight the changes we found. Analysing goal attempts is one of the elements of the opponent analysis, which we deliver to many of our clients.
If we analyse the chain of all 118 attempts from Internazionale in the current season, we see the influence of amongst others Sensi and Brozovic. Both midfield players are very influential in the build-up to an attempt but do attempt shots themselves as well. They even took more attempts compared to Lukaku but when analysing based on xG, you will see Lukaku gets the better chances. Based on xG, Lautaro Martínez and Lukaku are most involved. They got the best chances. Of the 118 attempts, most of them were the result of combination play (33%).
When we analyse the graphs of the past season and compare those with the current season, we see the influence of wingers Perisic and Politano. The first left the club to play on loan for Bayern Munich, the second is still playing at the club. Both players were highly involved in goal attempts in both the attempt itself and the assist to the attempt. The change of style caused Politano to lose his position in the starting eleven. Last season, the front wingers were most influential in xG creation next to centre forward Icardi. In the current season, central and wide midfielders take that role. Another important note is that Internazionale scored 57 goals last season with an xG value of 65,5; it scored less than expected. In the current season, Inter scored 18 goals with an xG value of 15,3.
Want to know more on Internazionale in the current season and which reports we offer the technical staff to prepare for opponents such as Inter? Download the 2019-2020 Internazionale example report below: