International Champions Cup Singapore

Football: Inter the dragon as Bayern get smoked

Inter's Eder Martins heading in his second goal against Bayern Munich last night as David Alaba looks on.
Inter's Eder Martins heading in his second goal against Bayern Munich last night as David Alaba looks on.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Germans pay price for resting big names, Inter's Spalletti calm about 2-0 victory

Even the finest machine, made up of the finest components imbued with classic German mental strength, can be broken.

And the beauty of football means that the Bayern Munich juggernaut can be stopped, even by the sputtering jalopy that is Inter Milan, who finished seventh in the Italian Serie A last season and are still trying to rebuild after a glorious Treble in 2010.

The Nerazzurri sprang a surprise, beating the German Bundesliga champions 2-0 in last night's International Champions Cup (ICC) at the National Stadium.

Two rapid counter-attacks, two sucker punches landed by Eder and masterminded by Luciano Spalletti, and Carlo Ancelotti's heavyweights slumped on the mat and were out for the count after just half an hour.

Although it was seen as a solid victory for the underdogs, Spalletti was not overly demonstrative in the post-match conference.

He deadpanned: "Inter had a very good game. We played very well and I'm very proud of my team. We played very well in the defensive line as well as the offensive line.

"If I am to be very picky, I would say that in the second half, we could have been more aggressive against Bayern. They are not just a tactical team but they are very aggressive on the pitch. We could have been a little bit better but I still think we had a good game."

Bayern had started the ICC on Tuesday with their turbos on, beating Chelsea 3-2 but Ancelotti conceded that Die Roten's hectic Asia tour, which saw them lose 0-4 to AC Milan in China last Saturday, mandated that squad rotation was necessary to keep players fresh.

The tactician rested first-teamers Thomas Muller and Javier Martinez while Robert Lewandowski, James Rodriguez, Mats Hummels and Rafinha did not complete the match.

In their place, reserves like Sven Ulreich, Niklas Dorsch, Milos Pantovic and Marco Friedl were given their chances.

The weakened line-up exposed Bayern's weakness on the flanks as Antonio Candreva delivered a teasing cross in the eighth minute for Eder to score with a diving header.

And after half an hour, the Italian international with Brazilian roots doubled his tally to nod home Ivan Perisic's cross after the Croatian had slalomed down the left.

"The result is less important. I have to consider the performance today. Against AC Milan, it was not good but today, it was good," said Ancelotti as he offered some positives in spite of the defeat.

"We made a mistake, conceded an easy goal but we had good control of the game. Also, we have to consider that we played two days ago against Chelsea, you have to consider that I didn't want to give a lot of minutes to the players that played against Chelsea. So I used a lot of young players from the academy and honestly, they did really well."

Energised by the surging runs of Renato Sanches after the break and with 19-year-old Dorsch adding bite to Bayern's midfield, the Bundesliga powerhouse threatened to rescue the fixture but the classic Italian know-how of defending a lead sent Inter across the finish line.

It may have been a friendly but Spalletti believes he saw enough from his team to predict an improvement from last season's malaise.

He said: "Inter need to play this kind of game. These are the kind of challenges that we want to have. We want to play teams of this level so we can improve over time.

"I am a transparent and straightforward person. And I can honestly say that so far, I have a good reception from the team and everyone is striving to improve day after day."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2017, with the headline 'Inter the dragon as Bayern get smoked'. Print Edition | Subscribe