Coppa Italia Belongs To Inter
As the dust has settled on the Coppa Italia final, I share my reflections on a dramatic final. Nicolo Barella scored a great goal to open the scoring at a time when the game was still in its infancy. Neither team had exerted total control at that point of the match. The opening goal gave Inter the momentum to dominate the match in the first 25 minutes of the match. Thereafter, Juventus grew into the match. It is tough to completely dominate and keep out a team with quality like Juventus. I also felt that a reason why Juventus grew into the match was that our forwards, Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko struggled to keep hold of possession and were second best to any ball played forward. Giorgio Chiellini epitomised Juventus’ fightback in typical fashion with determination and tenacity.
In matches such as this, it is expected for Inter to face different phases of the match; from dominating the match, we had to dig deep and defend. Generally, we did a good job to withstand Juventus’ attacks and it was largely thanks to the heroics of Samir Handanovic that we kept a clean sheet in the first half. Inter ended the first half in control again as Juventus were coming to terms with a rejig of their formation. The second half came at the right time as it allowed them time to regroup and adapt to the demands of a new formation. Juventus started the second half on top and deservedly scored twice in quick succession. The first goal we conceded was the turning point in the match. Handanovic made a hash of the shot but some might attribute it to a deflection or having his view blocked. Inter was all at sea on the counter-attack for Juventus’ second goal.
After Juventus scored, they decided to sit back and I feared about our chances to get back into the game because they are known to employ the low block very well. However, some immediate chances with the most notable one being Matteo Darmian’s shot saved by Mattia Perin gave me confidence that we could get at this Juventus defence. What troubled me though was that we looked tired and lacked urgency. We kept plugging away and got back into the game through a penalty that Juventus’ fans would go on to contest arguing that Martinez hooked his leg on Leonardo Bonucci’s instead of getting tripped by the latter. On the replay, you could see that Bonucci had held Martinez back by his arm. Hakan Calhanoglu stepped up to score from the penalty spot with aplomb.
I wish Inter had pressed on with greater urgency to wrap up the game within 90 minutes but it appeared like they were contented to play an extra half an hour of football. Both teams looked tired in extra-time — Juventus more than Inter. Out of nowhere, we got a lifeline again from the penalty spot, this time finished very well by Ivan Perisic. In quick succession, our Croat scored a wonderful strike to kill off the game. I could sense Inter’s players were already celebrating but the match was not over yet and as long as the final whistle was not blown, Juventus could easily score twice to level the tie. Thankfully, we kept our heads to see out the game.
I am delighted with Inter’s victory and adding another silverware to our cabinet but it’s a victory that cannot be celebrated for long because we need to quickly recover and shift our focus on trying to retain our league title.