A well-earned rest for Cambiasso in Inter win

Posted by David Wilson

Inter Milan beat Hellas Verona 4-2 at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Saturday with Jonathan, Rodrigo Palacio, Esteban Cambiasso and Rolando scoring for Inter, who jumped over Verona into fourth place in the standings.

It was a win and performance that will have made Inter boss Walter Mazzarri happy. He got the three points and was able to bring Cambassio and Palacio off in quick succession around the 63rd minute to give them needed rest.

That was important, as Inter will play three games in seven days. Having used only 16 players this season, the fewest in Serie A, Mazzarri has to be careful he does not overextend his best players. Which it why it was important to see Zdravko Kuzmanovic and Ishak Belfodil come on for Cambiasso and Palacio respectively, and play well.

The only disappointment for Inter was the red card shown to Belfodil after the final whistle, meaning he will likely miss Inter’s midweek trip to Atalanta.

After struggling to score off set pieces earlier in the season, Mazzarri obviously spent the international break working on them -- and Inter have now scored from corners in the last two games. Saturday, Inter had nine corners and converted three into goals, from three different players. What makes that stat even more impressive is that until Saturday, Verona had not conceded from a corner.

For maybe the first time this season, Inter were helped by the bounce of the ball as deflections went in and shots rebounded off the post and fell to Inter players to score. Not taking anything away from Inter’s performance, but I have seen other games this season where those shots would have rebounded to a defender or been deflected wide.

The negative from Saturday was Inter’s defence gave up another two goals, making that eight conceded in Inter’s last three game, 11 conceded in the league this season. That is more than any of the other Champions League contenders. I like how the 3-5-2 helps Inter's attack (23 goals in nine games), but the defence looked vulnerable ever time Verona attacked.

You cannot rely on Inter to score four goals every week in order to win and I am not convinced that the three-man defense is the right formation if Inter are to finish in the top three.

Inter Star Player

Cambiasso
-- I thought he was brilliant against Verona and deserving on his man of the match award. Cambiasso is quietly having a terrific season and it shocks me Inter have not signed him to a new contract yet. The 33-year-old midfielder has shown that he can do the dirty work in front of the Inter back four, plus pop-up every now and then and score as he did Saturday.

His numbers (from Opta’s whoscored.com): touches: 69; passing accuracy: 94 percent; tackles: 3; fouls: 1; shots: 2; key passes: 4 (led Inter). But those numbers do not do Cambiasso’s performance justice. This chart from fourfourtwo.com shows where Cambiassio was involved on the pitch:

 photo cambiasso_zps627ab068.png

He wasn't just playing in front of Inter’s back line. Cambiasso was all over the pitch on Saturday. Look at how many of his passes took place in the Verona half! This is why this was Cambiasso’s best performance of the season as the Argentine was able to turn back the clock and control the game with both his attacking and defending play.

Zdravko Kuzmanovic: When he made his Inter debut in the first game against Genoa, his performance was widely panned, leaving some pundits to wonder if he would be sent out on loan before the summer transfer window closed. Fortunately that did not happen and today the Serbian midfielder made his second appearance of the season when he replaced Cambiasso and he showed signs of why Inter had signed him.

This chart from fourfourtwo.com shows Kuzmanovic’s influence:

 photo Kuzman_zps9b882141.png

The obvious difference between Kuzmanovic and Cambiasso’s charts are that the majority of Cambiasso’s passes were positive and attacking while Kuzmanovic’s were mainly square and conservative.

This is an indication of a player (Kuzmanovic) low in confidence who is afraid to make a mistake. Hopefully as he gets more playing time, Kuzmanovic’s confidence will start to build and we will see him making the kind of probing balls forward that Cambiasso does so well as Inter cannot rely on Cambiasso to play 40-plus games this season.

At some point he will need a rest, then Kuzmanovic has to be able to step into the lineup and perform as well as Cambiasso. On Saturday, we saw signs that he is up to that challenge.

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