Internazionale – Empoli FC: Inter Scrape Together Champions League Ticket, Relegating Empoli Along The Way (2-1)
Inter piled the pressure on Empoli in the first half, mainly with crosses and long shots, without coming close to scoring. Empoli themselves were quite brave in possession and put together some nice attacks of their own, but Inter were able to take the lead early in the second half. After Empoli’s equalizer it looked as if Inter’s top four hopes were in real trouble, until Radja Nainggolan scored a dramatic winner in the final ten minutes.
Tactical analysis and match report by Josh Manley.
Inter knew that a win in this game would ensure Champions League qualification for next season. Coach Luciano Spalletti made three changes from last week’s 4-1 defeat at Napoli. Stefan de Vrij came in at center-back in place of Miranda, Matías Vecino replaced Roberto Gagliardini in central midfield and Mauro Icardi was restored as the striker as youngster Lautaro Martínez dropped to the bench.
Some voices in the game have stated that the pressure to battle relegation is a lot more stressful than competing for a title or European tickets. Prior to this game, Empoli had gone on a run of three wins in a row, as they tried to dig themselves out of relegation trouble. In order to avoid the Serie B, they would have to match the result of Genoa, who were playing away at Fiorentina. Coach Aurelio Andreazzoli named an unchanged starting eleven, compared to the one that beat Torino 4-1 last time out.
Inter bombard Empoli area, fail to score
Inter’s 4-2-3-1 formation was interestingly somewhat asymmetrical when . . .