Inter Milan head coach Simone Inzaghi has admitted Liverpool can be “lethal” thanks to one tactical aspect that could cause his side issues in their Champions League meeting.
Liverpool will be at San Siro for a Champions League Round of 16 clash on Wednesday. They take on Inter in the first leg of their first knockout match. It will be an intriguing battle between the Italian champions and a Premier League powerhouse.
Although Inter look on course to retain their Serie A title, whereas Liverpool only have an outside chance of claiming the Premier League trophy from Manchester City’s grasp, it is the English outfit who go into this game as slight favourites.
Indeed, Inter boss Inzaghi is aware of the strength of their visitors. But he has backed his side to compete with them through their own “determination”.
Inzaghi told a press conference (via Football Italia): “I think that English clubs are very strong. They’ve all won their groups aside from Chelsea.
“Liverpool are one of the best teams in Europe, but our lads deserve to play these kinds of games. We haven’t played in the Round of 16 for many years and although it will be very difficult, we’ll try to make it.
“On paper, Liverpool are the favourite, but games must be played.
“I’ll ask the lads to go on the pitch and play our football with a free mind, showing our ideas. Determination will make the difference.”
Liverpool went all the way in this competition as recently as 2019. Inter, on the other hand, are competing in the knockout phase for the first time since 2011-12.
Inzaghi knows many of his players will be in uncharted territory. In comparison, he acknowledges the strength in depth Liverpool have.
But he has studied the Reds to the full and knows they are starting at a level scoreline.
Of their comparative lack of Champions League experience, Inzaghi – himself coaching in the knockout stage for just the second time in his career, after previously doing so with Lazio – said: “I’ve already spoken with the team about this.
“The first step was to reach the Round of 16. We’ll face a top club with strong players, but all games start from 0-0. We’ll face it with our weapons and motivations. In some games, you must take care of every detail.
“We watched Liverpool’s matches, the ones against Milan and the most recent ones.
“They have a deep squad, a great coach, they are intense, so we need to do well every time, both when we have the ball and when we defend.
“Liverpool can be lethal in counter-attacks. Their full-backs have almost the same quality as two regista, so they can create trouble for us everywhere on the pitch.”
A ‘regista’ is a deep-lying playmaker, and would be the kind of term used to describe – for instance – someone like Andrea Pirlo. Therefore, that is quite the high praise for what Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson can do with the ball.
Inzaghi assesses Inter striker chances against Liverpool
Inter generally play a 3-5-2 system, so there could be some intriguing battles on the flanks.
They will also be looking to cause Liverpool their own problems within that system. Indeed, one pundit has explained – in rather exaggerated terms – how Inter could exploit Virgil van Dijk, bringing him out of position due to the movement of Edin Dzeko.
The former Manchester City forward, who scored three goals from six in the group stage, is expected to lead the line for Inter. It remains to be seen whether he will be partnered by Lautaro Martinez or ex-Arsenal man Alexis Sanchez.
Inzaghi is not giving anything away as to who van Dijk and co will be coming up against directly.
He said: “All the strikers have the same chances to start.
“We’ve played many games recently. We have two training sessions left, one striker will be introduced as a sub. I’ll make a final decision today or tomorrow.
“I always try to rotate them. It’s hard to recover when you play every three days.”
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