Despite not having Lukaku play against the Blancos, Inter fought hard to win against a lucky Real Madrid, but it wasn’t enough. The road to the Champions League knockout stage gets hard, but not impossible for Antonio Conte’s team.
By Daphne Seberich
Missed opportunities? Check. Horrendous mistakes? Check. After a disappointing loss for Inter, coach Antonio Conte has to reflect a lot on what happened in the Champions League round 3 of Group B’s qualifying stage. This was a decisive match for Real Madrid’s 2020/2021 campaign. They needed the win to keep the dream of raising the Champions League trophy alive. Conte’s team could have ended Real’s championship path last night in Madrid. But it didn’t.
The first minutes of the match would indicate a high-paced, high-intensity game. The Blancos were putting a lot of pressure right from the get-go with multiple threatening attempts in the first seven minutes. Inter fought back with Barella, Lautaro and Vidal, who incredibly missed the target.
The Italians made it way too easy for the Spaniards in the 25th minute of the game by allowing Benzema to stand alone in front of Handanovič, who was well outside of his penalty area, with only Inter’s empty goal ahead. The French player didn’t disappoint and went on to score what would be his 55th goal in the elite tournament with the Blancos. The chance was presented by an unbelievable mistake by Hakimi, who went on to play one of his worst games of the season.
This shook Inter deeply, permitting Sergio Ramos, served from a corner shot by the German Toni Kroos, to score his 100th goal in his Real Madrid career with a brilliant header in the 33rd minute of the match. The advantage didn’t last too long as Inter bounced back with an incredible Lautaro kicking the ball into Thibaut Courtois’s left-bottom corner of his goal.
The second half of Real Madrid-Inter showed a drop of intensity by the Spanish team, of which Inter took andvatage of to reopen the match with a sensational goal scored by Perišić at the 68th minute of the game. Inter’s hope rekindled and fueled the players with energy. Multiple phenomenal occasions for the Interisti happened subsequently. Lautaro and Perišić put great pressure on the Spaniards.
A tie would have been what both teams deserved, but a clever change by Zidane: to swap out Asensio for the young Brazilian Rodrygo, ended Inter’s chances of winning. Soon after entering the field, Rodrygo sealed the deal for Real at the 80th minute of the match.
Now the road for Inter is full of challenges, but Antonio Conte is confident: “Inter thinks like a big team, there’s hope.”. They need to win the next three games against the other Group B teams to continue their Champions League journey.