How Inter Neutralized Robben

Posted on May 26, 2010


Like in most of their Champions League games this season, Bayern’s strategy was to get the ball to Robben so he could create havoc. Robben Loves to Cut in onto his left foot and is almost impossible to deal with one on one.

Knowing this, Inter let Robben receive the ball in deep areas instead of closing him down. This reduced the chance of him beating them for pace and also allowed them to get settled in their defensive shape.This shape is shown below


Instead of trying to take the ball off Robben, they just guided him into the congested middle, where he often tried to shoot through a crowd of players.
Chivu was always first to confront him, when he got beat, Cambiasso would slide over, preventing Robben from cutting in while Walter Samual would play as cover.Cambiasso and Zannetti are both very good at protecting their fullbacks, preventing one on one situations. When playing against good wingers these players are vital.

As a result of Inter’s set up Robben often had to beat 3 players before he could shoot. The times Robben looked dangerous was when he recieved the ball before Inter’s defense could get set, so he would be one on one with Chivu. It is in these situations, when Chivu was left exposed, that he either got skinned by Robben or was forced to foul. This shows why transitions are so dangerous in the modern game(the defense does not have time to get set).

In the 2nd half, Lahm started joining Robben in attack more often as Bayern chased the game. This brought Pandev’s defensive role into focus as he was the one who had to track Lahm’s runs. Pandev did this well early in the 2nd half but then began to tire so Muntari was brought on to continue the job.Chivu was taken off as he was on a booking and Zanetti basically continued playing Robben the same way.

In conclusion, Inter always had an extra man on that left side so Bayern were unable to create on on one situations. Instead of trying to tackle Robben, they often guided him into areas were he was less of a threat.So even though Robben so a lot of the ball it did not lead to many shots on goal(I only recall 2 that were threatening). Robben’s cutting in created space for Lahm but he was well tracked by Pandev, later Muntari. Inter were able to neutralize the Robben/Lahm combination and gave themselves an excellent chance to win the game, which they eventually did.

Posted in: Game Analysis