Bengaluru, August 15: Despite making it to the Champions League qualification for a second consecutive season, Luciano Spalletti was sacked as Inter Milan manager at the end of last season. He was replaced by former Juventus, Chelsea and Italy boss Antonio Conte very swiftly.
The Italian boss comes with a reputation of success, particularly in Italy. He led Juventus to three successive titles, including an unbeaten season in his first year. Even when in charge of Chelsea, he helped a side which had finished tenth to win the Premier League title. And, now he has been assigned the job to take Inter.
Nerazzurri were pretty active in the transfer market, landing four new faces in the squad including high profile signing of Romelu Lukaku.
The Italian side, however, had a poor pre-season with zero wins but that is due to Conte experimenting with the side. The Italian mastermind used the 4-3-3, 4-4-2 and all such different line up in different games. However, with only one week to go for the curtain raiser of Serie A he is now expected to revert back to his usual formation of back three which has given him success in his career.
With 5-3-2 being the preferred formation, let's look at how they could line up for the opening day of the 2018-19 season:
Captain Samir Handanovic will, of course, start between the sticks as there is not much competition in this area. Plus, Conte does not rotate his backline as he likes stability at the back.
Depending on the opponents Conte could change the defensive third but usually, his three at the back remains the same throughout the campaign. Most of Conte's 3-man defence has at least one player who's good on the ball, if not all three. This one player could be Stefan de Vrij, while the other two is expected to be summer signing Diego Godin and Milan Skriniar. Andrea Ranocchia makes for a good deputy, but will be used only in cup games.
Danilo D’Ambrosio established himself as a first-choice right-back at the end of last season despite the challenge of on-loan defenders Cedric Soares and Sime Vrsaljko. So, he is expected to continue as the right-wing back under the Italian boss. Kwadwo Asamoah would be an obvious candidate at left-wing-back after playing there during his Juventus days but versatile wingers Matteo Politano and Valentino Lazaro could also challenge him for the role.
And, if the Italian opted to field a team of back three with five players in the midfield the wing-back role could be seen covered by Dalbert Henrique and Antonio Candreva as well.
Conte's new signing Nicolo Barella is expected to partner Marcelo Brozovic in midfield. The competition for the third midfield position could be between Stefano Sensi and Roberto Gagliardini. Sensi could be the more balanced option in between the two as he is a box-to-box midfielder. Matias Vecino, Borja Valero and Joao Mario are expected to be their deputy.
Conte's strike partnerships always feature a proper target-man, alongside a versatile forward playing behind him for link up play. After signing Lukaku from Manchester United he is expected to be the focal point of the side just like his former players, Fernando Llorente or Diego Costa, while Argentine Lautaro Martinez is expected to be the man playing behind him, doing all the dirty work, running through the channel like Carlos Tevez or Eden Hazard.
Expected Lineup against Lecce (5-3-2): Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Godin, De Vrij, Skriniar, Asamoah; Barella, Brozovic, Sensi; Martinez, Lukaku