Sunday, 3 April 2011

On Milan v Inter

In the face of criticism of the players used, I dont think anyone’s mentioned that the personnel was very similar to that used by Mourinho in the CL final last year. 4 defenders, 2 holding players and Sneijder, Eto’o, Pandev, Milito/Pazzini. The problem was not inflexibility in that regard because Mourinho’s players played very differently from Leonardo’s.

The real point hasn’t quite been hit yet although the point about the midfield superiority comes closest. Milan were very COMPACT without the ball, Inter weren’t. Mourinho’s Inter’s outstanding feature was its compactness. No spaces were left for the opposition and even when out of possession they looked like a team in control. Everyone speaks of the Barcelona Semi Final and how compact Inter were then but it’s true of every game, it just stands out then because they made no attempt to attack.

When Inter had the ball you could count 7 or 8 Milan players in 1/4 of the pitch. When Milan had the ball – exacerbated by the way Pandev, Eto’o and Pazzini were deployed – Inter had that number in half the pitch. Milan were about twice as compact. This meant when Inter had the ball they had very little space and if they found some there were two players immediately on the player. The sight of Sneijder diving before taking out his frustration on the pitch in the first half is symptomatic of the difference between the two sides.

Conversely, when Milan had the ball they had a lot more time and space to pick a pass. They exploited this well, playing ball after ball behind the helpless defence. Inter’s lack of compactness also helped Milan keep the ball for long periods of the second half. When Inter did win the ball there was a big gap between defence and attack and so launching a counter attack was difficult.

Remaining compact is vital in the modern game. In fact it came out recently. I’m gonna find a quote….


“Plan A is 9-1. This is the new football. The new system is to go forward with a lot of players and to defend with nine. You have to be compact. Barcelona and Arsenal do it. If you want to win back the ball, you have to defend with a lot of players and attack the same.”

Consider how compactness is the reason why “defending deep and narrow” is any good at all.

It’s interesting how different teams interpret compactness differently e.g. Barcelona and Mourinho’s Inter.

As a final note, it’s interesting that the way players move both individually and as a team are at least as important as the players selected, the type of player selected, and the formation used. Any comments to the effect that “this formation was bound to lose” is clearly false, as a comparison between Mourinho and Leonardo’s Inter shows.

[Written as a comment on run by Michael Cox - not just extremely knowledgeable, but a great guy]

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