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Goal.com looks at Inter's leaky rearguard in depth...

Leonardo has no doubt steered the Inter ship in the right direction since replacing Rafael Benitez, but if there remains a stand-out worry for the Nerazzurri, it is a defence that concedes a plethora of goals.

In 2011, Inter have been able to go forward and score in convincing fashion, seemingly throwing caution to the wind as Leo has added some of that famed Brazilian offensive flair to an attack that was sorely rigid under his predecessor. But by contrast the Nerazzurri have also been shipping goals with alarming irregularity, conceding 18 in 14 games.

The number of chances they allowed to come the way of Bayern Munich in their Champions League Round of 16 first leg clash, eventually resulting in a 1-0 home loss, is evidence of the issues that pester the team at the back.

  Clean Sheets Ratio
Mou 08-09 21 in 50 0.42
Mou 09-10 26 in 56 0.46
Leo 10-11 3 in 14 0.21
     
There is an often over-used, but verified saying, that "defence wins championships". While in charge at San Siro, Jose Mourinho certainly provided it credence by keeping it tight at the back and ensuring a number of clean sheets en route to victory. In nearly 50 per cent of the matches 'The Special One' took command, Inter kept their opponents at bay.

Though Leonardo's tenure is of a limited sample size thus far, Milan's blue and black outfit have only kept three clean sheets in 14 matches - narrowly over 20 per cent, less than half the amount of Mourinho's era of success.

This is not to belittle Leonardo's effect since arriving at Inter, but compare and contrast it to recent triumphs and the numbers, without doubt, reveal that defensive improvement is needed if the Nerazzurri are to be remembered as winners, rather than failures, this season.

Goals Against/Match

Mou 08-09   0.92
Mou 09-10   0.79
Leo 10-11    1.29
By conceding well over a goal per match, a squad cannot achieve continuity nor put together a convincing run if there is always doubt over their ability to stop their opponents. Mourinho's treble-winning campaign saw his side let in approximately 0.5 goals less than Leo's current rearguard on average per match, despite most of the personnel remaining the same.

If the players are not the ones who have changed, though Walter Samuel's injury-enforced absence is noted, the difference then arrives from both efficiency and organsiation. Despite the presence of experienced and savvy players like Maicon, Lucio, Ivan Cordoba, Andrea Ranocchia, Christian Chivu and Javier Zanetti, who arguably comprise one of the deepest defences in all of Europe, the team remain susceptible on the flanks and are also clearly having difficulty dealing with crosses into the area, looking nervous, incompetent, and dare I say shambolic at times.

Leonardo may subscribe to an offensive philosophy, but as the old adage has revealed, "defence wins championships" and without improvement at the back, there will be no trophies for the Brazilian tactician come June.

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