The Italian Super Cup, allow it, has a relative weight. We will not remember yesterday’s game for what was at stake (a cup, that is, even a particularly bad one), but for the way it ended. The winning goal in the 121st minute, the latest ever in the history of the competition, while Massimiliano Allegri asked his team in vain to commit a tactical foul. Bonucci, Juventus’ latest move to win the match on penalties, blocked on the sidelines, which first becomes a meme and then attacks the Inter secretary for unclear reasons. Finally, the mythomaniac interview by Alexis Sanchez, who, like in a badly dubbed western, addresses the interviewer with “Hey friend”.
Ultimately, we will remember this match for the overturning of the concept of short muzzle, or rather, for having turned it against its creator, and in the cruellest way possible. We will remember this match for this and rightly so, because memory has to do with emotion and the sense of revenge is perhaps the emotion that most ignites a match between two rival teams like Inter and Juventus. But less than a day before the San Siro match, beyond the jokes on the Juventus motto (“Until the end”), beyond the digs and memes, it can be said that in reality the greatest success of the Inter is that, despite having won in the last second of extra time and taking advantage of a rather obvious mistake by Alex Sandro, they did not win by short muzzle – that is, with minimal effort and a simple, no-frills kick.
Alexis Sanchez is right when he says that “champions do things that others don’t” because scoring – and above all scoring decisive goals – is truly something mystical that has little to do with the technique with which a ball is kicked, and in a some sense – in the sense of doing the right thing in the right place at the right time – it really is the hardest thing to do in a football field. Something that sets normal players apart from samples. Without Alexis Sanchez Inter would not have won in this way (this is tautological, but if you think about it: what do we ask of the champions if not let us win in the best possible way?), But maybe they would have won anyway.
In the end, he has several excellent penalty takers and above all one of the best Serie A goalkeepers to save penalties: why should Juventus have been favorites, if the game had ended without Sanchez’s goal? Allegri’s confidence in bringing the most intangible and magical aspects to his side has always been irrational, and there would be nothing wrong with that because football is also this, but what is becoming evident this season is that it is blind to that reality that the Juventus coach almost always invokes as clear and evident.
The reality that emerges from the abundant 120 minutes of yesterday’s match, beyond the result, is that, despite the fact that there are no such huge differences between the two squads, Inter plays better football than Juventus. I know that there will already be someone who will have turned up their noses: who because they are convinced that Inter are too stronger than Juventus not to win and who because they will have perceived the play well only as an aesthetic tinsel, indeed, as a pretext to divert the discussion from what really directs the results of the matches and that is the refereeing episodes (and also on yesterday’s match, if desired, we could discuss). But if this is the reality – that is, the one in which the referee is against us and our team is poorer than the opponent – because a coach should not decide to play well – that is to attack and defend better than the opponent? It seems to me that in this reality is the only thing in his power to try and win a game.
In the days before the match on Twitter I read many Inter fans remembering when, at the beginning of the season, few would have given Inter the favorite for the Scudetto, much less in a direct clash against Allegri’s Juventus. In these speeches there is always a streak of victimhood, because the hypothesis on which they are based is that there is bad faith in a part of the press that is considered an enemy, but also a grain of truth: it was objectively difficult to think of an Inter so dominant after the departures of Conte, Lukaku and Hakimi, and the arrivals of Inzaghi, Dzeko, Correa and Dumfries. It is not a question of bad faith or lack of competence: no one, I believe not even the Inter management itself, was convinced that Dzeko at the end of his career was more effective than Lukaku at the first, or that Dumfries now had a better impact than Hakimi. On the contrary, I believe that the awareness of the opposite convinced Inzaghi to bet so much on the game, then having the talent to actually do it. I repeat, even at the risk of being pedantic: if the team is poorer, why shouldn’t a coach decide to play well – that is, try to attack and defend better than the opponent? This speech is also interesting by reflex, because in front of Inter there was a Juve within which the talk about the real value of the squad are wasted.
Now, Juventus could have won by playing as they played yesterday, there is no doubt about that. But if they stayed in the game until the 121st, it is exactly because Inter don’t have those champions that Alexis Sanchez talks about. Simone Inzaghi’s team is the one that attacked and defended itself better, that manipulated the opponent more easily, that reached the area more easily, that had the best chances. But sometimes this is not enough because scoring, and above all scoring at the right time, as mentioned is the most difficult thing to do on a football field. Let me give some examples.
The action of the 1-1 penalty by Inter was born from two almost identical side fouls by Dumfries on the right side of the field. The first time the Dutch winger throws directly into the area for Lautaro, who however is violently anticipated by Chiellini. Despite this, Juventus never manages to get out of the area: the first counter is picked up by Brozovic, who returns to Lautaro inside the area; the Argentine striker’s shot was stopped by the Juventus defense but at that point Bernardeschi desperately throws it forward without looking (we are at the 32nd of the first half), giving the ball to Bastoni. At that point, Inter rearranges itself on the pitch with the principles that Simone Inzaghi gave them – control of possession, fluidity, movements without the ball – and we see Calhanoglu in a playmaker’s position changing the game to the right towards Skriniar. Inter does like cat and mouse: Skriniar finds Dzeko between the lines followed too late by Chiellini, behind whom Dumfries tries to fit.
Dzeko’s ball is too short and is recovered by Alex Sandro but Juventus doesn’t know what to do with it. After the back pass, Perin casually raises, finding Dzeko again. Then there is a big heel from Barella on the right side of the field with which Inter are back in the box, but Dumfries wastes everything with a rough first control that is anticipated by Rabiot. The second ball, however, is again from Inter who, after returning from Barella to the right again, earns a lateral foul identical to the one he started from and with which he will earn the penalty.
In this case, with Dzeko’s malice and Lautaro’s coldness on the spot, Inter managed to score. But there are several occasions born from situations of similar domination in which Inzaghi’s team only missed the last touch. A few minutes the equalizer Juventus is again very low and ready to be manipulated by Inter, almost complete in the opposing half of the pitch.
We have Skriniar again to start the action. The Slovak center with a dig to overtake Kulusevski goes to Bastoni, who activates one of the tactical patterns of this Inter and that is the triangle with Calhanoglu and Perisic. The first pulls Locatelli out of position, the second, with a very low and narrow position, deceives De Sciglio, who understands with a moment of delay that the triangle will close again on Bastoni’s feet. Of course, the young Nerazzurri central is good at getting around him but then his suggestion for Dzeko in the center of the area is strangled and is intercepted by Chiellini. Juventus, however, are so low that on Chiellini’s touch, which makes the ball wheelie, Rabiot, to try to put the ball in a corner kick, risks getting his own goal.
Then there is the action that leads to Dumfries’ close header stopped on the crossbar by Perin, which comes from a very long maneuver by Inter interspersed with several raises in the void of Juventus. In all, from the first throw-in (Juventus) to the scoring opportunity, more than three minutes pass in which Allegri’s team hardly ever touches the ball. Some will say that it is only sterile possession, but in reality Inter arrive inside the area several times before finally finding a teammate able to direct the ball towards the goal. First on the usual Bastoni-Perisic axis.
Then with a solitary foray by Perisic on the left (cross rejected by Rugani). Finally with another one two between Bastoni and Perisic born from a very elaborate low construction that had attracted the pressure of Juventus right into the Inter area.
From right to left, Inter will reach the one-two between Bastoni and Perisic that will lead the young Italian central with one foot inside the small opponent area. A moment before the decisive cross, however, Bernardeschi – who had let himself be fooled just before on the wing – will desperately manage to dirty the ball. Juventus will raise again at random and de Vrij will be able to restart the action for Inter. Before arriving at Dumfries’ opportunity there will be two new crosses: first one from Barella (too long at the far post), and then one from Dzeko (rejected at the edge of the small area by Chiellini). Only later will Inter be able to find the right one with Calhanoglu, freed again from the triangle with Perisic and Bastoni.
I could go on for so long, but the point is precisely that, despite this ease in manipulating the opponent and entering the area, it took Inter 121 minutes to finally find the combination of events that led them to score the goal. of victory. With Lewandowski, Haaland, Mbappé or Salah maybe he would have closed it a hundred minutes earlier but, in the absence of players of this type, Inter did the best they could to bend their luck instead of speculating on the clock to bring the game on penalties. On the other hand, with such overt domination what advantage would it have?
At 120 ‘, with many players bent by fatigue, Skriniar changed his game for the umpteenth time to the right, where he found Brozovic, who in turn opened the game towards Dimarco. The Italian winger, following the usual pattern, activated the triangle, this time with Correa, who freed him on the trocar. Then his cross into the box came out short – because Dimarco is not Alexander-Arnold – but Juventus were so low that, as we have seen, nothing was enough to break their defensive equilibrium. At that moment it happened to Alex Sandro, but in the previous minutes it could have happened to Rabiot if he had sent the ball under the seven of his goal, or to Bernardeschi if he had touched Bastoni’s foot instead of the ball, or to Perin se instead of holding the header on Dumfries had it slipped out of hand. A matter of details.
First the cross from which Dumfries’ opportunity arises, then the one from which Sanchez’s goal springs: Inter does nothing but repeat internalized patterns.
Alexis Sanchez would say that if it happened to Alex Sandro and not the other two there is a reason, just as there is a reason if that mistake was transformed into a goal by him and by no one else. That reason is that “champions do things that others don’t”, and this is difficult to argue, because goals must be scored even when they seem impossible to miss. But if the problem is the absence of champions – and who knows maybe one day Allegri, following this logic, will come to say that Morata, Dybala or Kean would have missed this goal – then perhaps it is better to try to create opportunities that even normal players would know. score, waiting for luck to help you. In the end, what’s better?