This post contains affiliate links. “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”
It looks like a two horse race between the two Milan teams for the Serie A title this season. And while a young AC Milan has suffered for most of the campaign so far, a slip against Spezia has cost them top spot. Inter had to beat a Lazio on a six-game winning streak in the league to outrun their rivals, and they did so with supreme style.
Romelu Lukaku stole the headlines with an incredible performance, landing two and helping the other as Antonio Conte’s team ended up winning 3-1, but there was so much more to the victory than just Lukaku’s efforts.
A well-trained Nerazzurri felt incredibly comfortable out of possession and happy to let Lazio build up the pressure at all times. Little by little they were eliminated as the game progressed intelligently, the team’s performance could be remembered with fond memories if they managed to clinch the title.
The man who doesn’t get the accolades he deserves, however, is Marcelo Brozovic, who runs the show from midfield.
Brozovic was huge against Lazio; another good performance from his portfolio this season. The 28-year-old was everywhere in the clash, running over 14km and breaking Lazio’s strides at the base of midfield each time, before recycling the game and leading his team’s attack. He also racked up four interceptions, made five long balls and a key pass, while leading the press that allowed Lukaku to score his second goal of the night.
It was a tireless display and one that fans have enjoyed all season. Antonio Conte’s team has always been tactically skilled, but it is the extra level of bite and hunger that the likes of Brozovic bring that counts in such high quality games.
It would be easy to turn the Croatian into nothing more than an aggressive defensive midfielder whose job it is to allow the likes of Nicolo Barella and Christian Eriksen to do the creative work going forward, but Brozovic is doing it too, and better than most.
So far, Brozovic leads the way in the average distance covered per game in Serie A at 11.7km. His engine is relentless and while he perhaps lacks the same levels of discipline as the others (he has already scored eight yellow cards in all competitions), he makes up for it with a generally sublime input ability driven by a clever brain.
The reason Eriksen has struggled to find a way to the starting eleven under Conte is because players like Brozovic are crucial to any success, that and wing formations are essentially the law in Italy. This is by no means negative on Eriksen’s behalf, but rather a compliment to Brozovic; as well as being the man who performs defensive duties, Brozovic possesses enough intelligence to see a key pass in attack. Able to spray the ball forward from long range, he ranks third in Serie A with assists currently.
It is exactly this mentality and the level of performance that the Croatian brings that has propelled Inter to carry the title once again this season. He recycles the game and leads the transition for his team, allowing players like Barella, Achraf Hakimi, and Ivan Perisic to be bolder and more expansive in their attacking duties.
With no European cups or competitions for Inter to compete for, it has to be all or nothing for the Scudetto. Brozovic continually displays those messages in his performances with a “do or die” attitude that has clearly rubbed off on his teammates and enabled them to ignite and assert their dominance over the Italian top flight.
The season is by no means over, and Inter should continue to see these levels until the final whistle on the final day, but they have remained in a good position to withstand the test of time and overtake their rivals in the city.
That’s down to a combination of Brozovic’s stamina, aggression and intelligence at the heart of the team.