Any good magician performs his tricks for one reason. This is because it is thought that the act cannot be done. Hereby when the magician performs it, it is magic, a miracle. One thing about illusions is that they make something look spectacular and breath taking, when really it’s just a trick. Inter came from a goal behind to beat Udinese 3-1 at the Stadio Friuli yesterday and although on the outset this looked superb, there is a lot more than meets the eye.
There was no doubt that the performance had many positives and that Stramaccioni is getting the best out of the team he has. He has certainly given new life to some players and 11 points in 5 games is testament to that.
First of all, Stramaccioni is very tactically astute and is not a man who sticks to one formation. Udinese predictably set up with a 3-5-2 and the young Inter Coach countered this with a 4-3-2-1 that often became a 4-3-3. At first, this looked as though it may not work, as Diego Milito, Ricky Alvarez and Wesley Sneijder did not press the Udinese back three when the ball was played short. This in turn allowed Udinese to pass the ball out from the back. The Inter midfield sat extremely deep and the consequence of this meant that the Zebrette could push to the edge of the Nerazzurri box almost unchallenged. After Danilo had put the home side ahead this soon changed as the front three started to press.
The difference this made was immeasurable as by doing this it forced the back three of Udinese to rush their passing, this either resulted in the ball being intercepted when passed out to the wingers or they had go long and try and hit the front men. When the latter happened (the until then stagnant) Dejan Stankovic along with Esteban Cambiasso and Fredy Guarin easily intercepted it due to their deep positions. In fairness Cambiasso suited a deeper role and automatically drifted back into this alongside Stankovic. The unexpected benefit of this was that Guarin played higher up and looked more comfortable even trying to find his range with some long range shots.
The Nerazzurri were fortunate to get back on track through a Samir Handanovic error, however the goal scorer Wesley Sneijder was by now growing into his new role out on the left of Milito and looking increasingly dangerous. The trident had started to work in full effect with Ricky Alvarez and the afore mentioned Dutchman giving the Nerazzurri much needed width. Sneijder was also drifting into midfield to pick up the ball, this in turn giving Milito the much needed supply he needed. Soon two more goals had been scored courtesy of Sniejder and Alvarez.
Julio Cesar aside, there were still evident defensive frailties. Lucio worked harder than anyone on the pitch, but at 33 he is working on two cylinders as opposed to the five he once had. Maicon had a fantastic game especially going forward but it was the lack of cover given to him that made him look like he had run out of position. Had Udinese been at their best, then Inter would have been lucky to escape conceding more. Yuto Nagatomo on the left hand side had a less than convincing game which once again raises the question of whether he is good enough to fulfil this role. Poor going forward, often caught out of position he had a torrid time against Antonio Floro Flores who was possibly the worst player on the pitch. The only other man that may have contested Floro Flores for this honour was Nerazzurri center back Andrea Ranocchia who had a very poor first half, his control, first touch and though process was that of a player lacking in confidence. He improved in the second half but all in all he needs to play to his potential.
Stramaccioni is certainly an expert in papering over the cracks. He is the man that, had Ranieri not been appointed, could have seen Inter higher up the table. The cruel, harsh fact of the matter is that even if the 36 year old coach is bringing the youthful side, out of a squad that is almost his equal in years, how long can it continue. Inter reaching the Champions League would be an immense achievement but it is in the summer that next years campaign will be won and lost as the squad needs and overhaul.
Is he the right man for the job? Statistically yes. Will he win the Scudetto with these players? Categorically no. Moratti must see is that a win over Udinese is all well and good, even Champions League qualification would be superb but there is still that problem. His Coach will get better with age but his squad will simply continue to get worse.