Lautaro’s attacking partner is the coach’s dilemma on the eve of the match, who has to think about the best set-up for the first leg of the eighth-final of the Champions League
No formation is certain until the kick-off and changes of course are possible until the last second, but the eve of Inter-Porto in the Champions League is characterized by a big dilemma: who plays between Edin Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku in attack? The first seems to be declining and the second to be growing slowly but steadily. However, Simone Inzaghi’s considerations go beyond the athletic condition and intertwine in a knot that will not be resolved before the mid-afternoon session, perhaps directly on the morning of the match.
Starting from the data, which serve to condense the recent past into a couple of figures: no Inzaghi player has participated in as many goals as Dzeko, in the group stage of this edition of the Champions League. In fact, the Bosnian centre-forward already has three goals on the scoresheet and one assist to his credit: true, they all arrived in the easy double-header with Viktoria Plzen, but who knows how it would have gone if in the first of the two matches – in the Czech Republic – Edin didn’t had unlocked the result and then served Denzel Dumfries for the final double. Games, on the other hand, become easy when they unlock. The truth is that this year there have been few empty exits of the 36-year-old and that at European level he boasts an absolute level pedigree: more than the 68 appearances with 28 goals attached, the peak reached with Eusebio Di Francesco’s Roma weighs. It was the spring of 2018 and Dzeko scored both in the first leg and in the second leg in the semifinals against Liverpool then defeated in the final due to Loris Karius, but above all he dragged the Giallorossi up to that point with five goals and two assists in the last five matches of the ‘edition. The doubts about him, on the other hand, involve the difficulties of recent times: he has seen himself a bit packed, perhaps tired from an irreplaceable season despite his age. And to aim for the quarter-finals, he needs whoever is better off, as Inzaghi always repeats.
The situation is different for the Belgian, who is on the other hand growing slightly and who found the goal he had been missing since the autumn against Udinese, albeit from a penalty after a badly kicked first attempt. The agreement with Lautaro Martinez needs to be dusted off, but he awakens very sweet memories for the Inter world. For how this season is going, Lukaku is always an unknown – and therefore leaves little peace of mind -, but just the recent decline of his colleague could be completed in an overtaking. In his full strength Romelu remains in the circle of the strongest strikers in the world, but at the moment he is not. The latest outings have shown that the former Chelsea player is regaining his feeling with goal with each attempt, while in terms of maneuvering the many mistakes – especially after the first half hour of the game – tell of a timely lucidity. There are fewer chances in the Champions League than in Serie A and every ball lost risks weighing twice as much. The duel is open, therefore, even if whoever stays out will be ready to enter for the last half hour of the match. What matters is the team result, Lautaro will be able to adapt to any raiding partner.
February 21, 2023 (change February 21, 2023 | 1:51 pm)
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