Milan tasted defeat at the San Siro for the first time this season as Inter made it six straight wins and climbed up to fifth in Serie A. A 2-0 loss at Marseille saw Lille beaten for the first time since early August as the champions dropped 7 points behind Carlo Ancelotti’s PSG at the top of Ligue 1.
WhoScored focuses on a couple of major results in Europe’s top five leagues and takes an in-depth look at two significant unbeaten streaks that have come to an end in our usual early-week round-up:
Inter’s Battle Proves Unbeatable - Match Centre
Inter were the form team coming into Sunday night’s derby, having won their previous five games in a row. Milan, however, were unbeaten in their last twelve and had dropped just four points at home all season. Massimo Allegri’s side tend to boss their home games, with an average of 63.4% possession, and they surpassed this, with 66%, taking the game to their bitter rivals.
Urby Emanuelson, playing just behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexandre Pato in a 4-3-1-2, made the most passes (70) of any attacking player. The Dutchman created plenty of goalscoring opportunities, with 6 key passes, but some woeful finishing from his team mates meant he failed to pick up any assists. Emanuelson’s distribution was fairly erratic, though; he managed 13 crosses but only 2 were accurate. Nevertheless, for his creative output, he was Milan’s best player by far in the WhoScored ratings, earning 7.37 for his night’s work.
For Inter, Thiago Motta made the most passes (39) but it says a lot for his team’s lack of possession that seven Milan players made more. Yuto Nagatomo was the only player from Ranieri’s side to make more than 1 key pass, with 2 to his name.
While they had more goal attempts than Inter (16 to 12), the champions managed a mere 3 on target. Ibrahimovic had 4, with 1 on target, and Pato managed 3 but failed to hit the target with any. Ibrahimovic came into the game having scored in his last six Serie A games but, aside from a game-high of 5 successful dribbles, his influence was hugely disappointing against his former side. Pato was also a major underachiever here, losing the ball a total of 11 times over his 83 minutes.
Diego Milito’s clinical finishing put the Swede to shame. The Inter man, up alongside Giampaolo Pazzini in a 4-4-2, had a single shot all game but still managed to find the net. Ricardo Alvarez proved particularly wasteful for the away side, though - he had 6 (or 50%) of his side’s shots, but with only 2 on target, was subbed off on 67 minutes.
A look at each side’s respective tackle count tells the story of the match. Inter made almost double that of Milan (41 to 21) as Ranieri’s side – happy to sit deep - produced a staunch defensive performance to keep their rivals at bay. Just 20% of the play was in Milan’s defensive third of the pitch and their average positions (below right) highlight this - only the two centre-halves, Nesta and Silva, are positioned in their own half, whereas only three Inter players, on average, are stationed in the opposition half.
Alvarez was given license to push on and support the front pair, drifting central from the left, while the rest of the Inter midfield stayed deep and protected the centre-halves. As a result, Zanetti, Motta and Cambiasso made a total of 17 tackles between them. This allowed Maicon to push forward with intent throughout from right-back; 48% of Inter’s attacks came down his flank and the Brazilian provided 10 of his side’s 14 crosses, in addition to making 4 tackles and 5 interceptions.
It was Lucio, however, who was the game’s stand-out performer. The centre-half won 2 headers and made 3 tackles, 8 interceptions and a staggering 22 clearances to earn a man of the match 8.1 in the WhoScored ratings and afford Inter the sweetest of victories.
Remy the Difference for Marseille - Match Centre
Marseille were the victors in the battle between last season’s top two after a 2-0 win at the Stade Velodrome. Both sides came into the game in strong form; the home team had tasted defeat just once in their last 13 games, while Lille were unbeaten since the second game of the campaign, in a run that stretched back 17 matches.
Typically, Lille have the majority of possession away from home, with 60.2%, while Marseille tend to have the home advantage, with 57.2%. The hosts prevailed, with 54%, rarely allowing the champions a chance to get into their stride. Marseille’s back-four were the four top players for passes and with 43% of their play coming down the left hand side, left-back Jeremy Morel and Mathieu Valbuena - playing wide left in their 4-3-3 - made 57 and 54 passes respectively. A look at their average position map (below left) shows Morel (15) pushed high, allowing Valbuena (28) to drift centrally and allow the overlap on the flank.
Lille, also in their familiar 4-3-3, used their left flank just 29% in comparison but, nevertheless, Eden Hazard still received the ball more than any of their attackers. Drifting inside, he made 45 passes, 3 key passes, 3 shots and 2 successful dribbles. Clearly, he was a marked man, though; Hazard was fouled 7 times, more than any other player on the pitch.
In terms of shots, there wasn’t much between the teams. Marseille just nicked it 12 to 10 but their accuracy proved crucial in the end, with 6 on target compared to Lille’s 2. Clearly, the visitors missed Moussa Sow up front, with the centre forward absent on African Cup of Nations duty. Sow’s replacement, Ireneusz Jelen, had just 2 shots and averaged 5.97 in the WhoScored rankings before being subbed off near the end after a disappointing display.
Leading the line for Marseille, Loic Remy produced a barnstorming performance in comparison. He fired a total of 5 shots, with 3 on target and 2 hitting the back of the net, and also produced 2 key passes and 3 successful dribbles. As a result, Remy earned the WhoScored man of the match award, with a rating of 9.53.
Lille proved far superior when it came to battling for possession, making 30 tackles to Marseille’s 12. Given they average 18 tackles on the road, it was a significant step up and certainly indicative of their determination to regain possession from their hosts. Marseille’s wide men, Morgan Amalfitano and Mathieu Valbuena, were dispossessed 6 and 7 times respectively, with Rio Mavuba setting the tone for the visitors. Sitting in front of the back-four, he made 4 tackles and 6 interceptions, breaking up the home side’s play time and again. Mavuba also made 71 passes, the most of any Lille player.
Ultimately, though, it was Remy’s finishing that proved the difference between the sides and with Montpellier also winning this weekend, it was a bad weekend all round for the champions in their attempt to retain the Ligue 1 title.