Inter Milan 1-2 Barcelona: 3 Reasons Why the Blaugrana won | Champions League 2019-20
Barcelona edged past Inter Milan 2-1 at the San Siro to finish their UEFA Champions League group stage campaign on a high, with 14 points in their kitty. The Italian side, on the other hand, were consigned to a spot in the Europa League as they finished 3rd in Group F, courtesy the defeat.
The game began in slightly scrappy fashion as both sides looked to find a foothold in the encounter. However, the visitors settled a touch quicker as they began passing the ball with confidence, especially in the middle third.
Subsequently, the Blaugrana made their dominance count when Carlez Perez coolly slotted past Samir Handanovic in the 23rd minute. Even after the goal, the visitors looked the better outfit as they kept pushing and probing.
However, Inter’s forwards kept producing intermittent sparks and one such moment led to the equaliser when Lautaro Martinez set up Romelu Lukaku for a shot on the edge of the box. The Belgian struck his shot cleanly and it beat Neto, albeit via a tiny deflection.
After the break, the hosts created plenty of opportunities but they failed to make the net ripple again, meaning that they left the back door open for Barcelona to barge through. And, the Blaugrana did so unerringly when Ansu Fati popped up off the bench to thump home the winner.
Here is a look at the three reasons that allowed the visitors to post an important victory.
#3 Barcelona’s fringe players stand up to be counted
Ernesto Valverde shuffled his pack for the trip to Milan and called upon a plethora of fringe players as the likes of Frenkie de Jong, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Sergio Busquets were left on the bench.
Thus, several Blaugrana fans looked at the fixture in trepidation, considering their wretched record on the road and their inability to hold their own against strong counter-attacking sides. However, nothing of that sort materialised as the visitors churned out an impressive performance.
Apart from a few shaky moments, Jean-Clair Todibo looked accomplished in defence whereas Junior Firpo, Moussa Wague and Neto were pretty faultless too. Ivan Rakitic, meanwhile, also seemed assured in the centre of the park and controlled the tempo of the match brilliantly.
However, the most encouraging displays were turned in by Carles Alena and Perez. The pair, despite warming the bench for large stretches of the campaign, looked extremely sharp and provided the spark Barcelona required, especially early in the encounter.
Perez’s direct running and movement caused the Inter rear-guard all sorts of problems as he judiciously chose his moments to come in-field and go on the outside. And, he capped off his outing with a smart finish when presented a loose ball in the penalty area.
As for Alena, the youngster functioned as the ideal link between the midfield and the attack as he drifted into spaces in between the lines and often found himself in threatening positions. More promisingly though, he rarely put a foot wrong and picked the appropriate passing option, more often than not.
Over the past couple of seasons, the Blaugrana have increasingly become a lot more reliant on a certain Messi. And, though that might not change anytime soon, the showing at the San Siro might just convince Valverde to hand his young guns game time and allow them the requisite platform to blossom.