Humiliation for Inter in tactical meltdown

Posted by Mike Whittaker

Claudio Villa/Getty ImagesInter showed very little fight in their embarrassing 4-1 loss to Fiorentina.

Coming into the match against Fiorentina at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, the odds were most definitely in Inter's favour. On the back of two convincing wins against Chievo and CFR Cluj, and playing against a Viola side that have been unable to beat the Nerazzurri since 2006, a temporary move up to third place was considered almost inevitable. However, it all went disastrously wrong for Andrea Stramaccioni's side and Vincenzo Montella's Fiorentina romped to a devastating 4-1 victory that has raised many questions about Inter's credentials to qualify for any European tournament next season, let alone the targeted Champions League place.

- Match report: Fiorentina 4-1 Inter

This loss marks the flip side of last week's extension of their 14 match home unbeaten streak, as now Inter have lost seven in a row on the road. This is something that has not been seen this century, with the last time the Nerazzurri were playing so poorly away from home being way back in 1999.

So how did it go so desperately wrong for an Inter side who looked to have turned a corner where their form was concerned? The answer is simple; the team were ripped apart by Montella's superior tactics. Stramaccioni started the game with a 4-3-1-2 formation with Fredy Guarin playing behind the strike duo of Antonio Cassano and Rodrigo Palacio, while the midfield saw Mateo Kovacic make his full Serie A debut on the left of Zdravko Kuzmanovic in the holding role.

It is well known that Fiorentina like to play possession football, and by using three midfielders whose main abilities are passing, they manage to keep hold of the ball for long periods by just playing the ball around the pitch. You would think this would work perfectly for Inter's counter-attacking philosophy, and by gaining control of the ball deep in midfield the Nerazzurri would be perfectly placed to catch their opponents on the break.

You would think!

Within minutes of the kickoff, it was plainly obvious to everyone watching that Stramaccioni's choice of tactics were failing miserably, with the home side practically walking the ball past the Inter players. The only person who didn't seem to notice the problem was the man who was responsible for the tactics the team were playing -- Stramaccioni -- and inevitably after just 13 minutes Adam Ljajic broke the deadlock.

Still nothing changed tactically for the Nerazzurri and Fiorentina continued to pick apart the Inter ranks with well-timed and perfectly placed passes. By the time Stevan Jovatic doubled his team's lead, the Inter players had lost any discipline they had and were running around and chasing the ball like headless chickens. In response to the second goal, Stramaccioni finally decided to mix up his tactics by moving Guarin to the right forward position and Kovacic to the central midfield role that he performed so well in during the midweek.

This helped to settle the Inter squad slightly, but still no matter what they tried, they could not get anywhere near the ball or even get the talented Kovacic involved in the game at all. A change of formation to a three-man defence in the second half didn't really help much either and Fiorentina continued to dominate, eventually scoring another two goals to confirm their victory.

In my opinion, Stramaccioni has to be held accountable for this embarrassing loss because the main cause of Inter's deficiencies were the wrong choice of tactics to start with, followed by naive decisions to change things around. Many people I've spoken to agree that the Inter coach took far too long to see the problem with his initial formation, but not only that, when he finally did switch to the better suited three-man defence system, he only changed the formation and not the roles of his players on the pitch. It was this tactical ineptitude that gave Montella's men the chance to continue to outplay the Inter players in every department.

On top of the formation issues, I felt that all three of his substitutions were made out of a lack of ideas to turn the game around, which in my opinion just made the Inter coach look like he was clutching at straws, desperately hoping his players could find the solution themselves. This brings me to another point about this game that was inexcusable: The lack of fight or desire to win the three points shown by all the Nerazzurri players. I realise it must be hard to keep up the commitment to play for the win when the game is falling apart around them, but this problem was evident from the kickoff, especially in the defensive third of the pitch which I have to say was dire at best throughout the match.

The most upsetting thing about the game for me was that Fiorentina didn't even play particularly spectacular football, but Inter's performance was so bad that they made the viola look world class. The stats from the game say it all with Fiorentina holding a massive 63 percent possession and making an astounding 23 shots on the Inter goal. Usually it is the Nerazzurri making large numbers of shots at their opponent’s net, but in this game they only managed a disappointing seven.

Even more depressingly the only one of those shots to hit the target was Cassano's stunning late long range drive that secured Inter's consolation goal. To be fair, this awesome shot from 'FantAntonio' was incredible, but due to the overall terrible performance by the team I feel it will probably never get the full credit it deserved.

With the Milan derby now just a week away, the pressure is on Stramaccioni massively to save both his career as the Inter coach and also the club's season which is quickly looking like it could become an even bigger disaster than last year. To make things even more difficult for the young tactician, Juan Jesus and Alvaro Pereira will both miss the derby due to accumulated yellow cards following one each against Fiorentina. This of course means Inter are reduced to having just Ranocchia as a first choice centre back, who I presume will have to be partnered by the inconsistent Matias Silvestre.

Following this latest defeat, I can't help but feel the writing is on the wall for Stramaccioni's dismissal before next season. But with patience wearing thin around the club, a bad result against Milan could be the final straw before Moratti pulls the plug on the young Italian. That is of course, unless the Curva nord ultras pressurise the Inter president to make the decision even sooner! Time will tell what Stramaccioni's fate will be, but at the moment things don't look good for him or the team's season.

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