Completely Overanalzying Footage From Inter Miami's Intrasquad Scrimmage

Inter Miami played an intrasquad scrimmage on March 17th, from the little footage we have, here's what we can learn from it.

photo credits: Inter Miami

It’s safe to say that Inter Miami will look tactically different this season.

Last year under Diego Alonso, the team struggled to create, defend and score. That was largely due to the Uruguyan’s preference towards pragmatism vs a more expansive brand of football that Miami fans wanted.

There were several games last season where it was apparent that Alonso’s tactics did not fit the players at his disposal.

As Reddit user FreeGlass explained in this year-old thread about his hiring, Alonso’s time at Monterrey didn’t inspire confidence:

“He's pretty defensive-minded. Opting to attack for one goal then parking the bus and relying on counters after that...

The stuff beyond the tactics seems lacking. He lost the locker room when stuff wasn't going his way, a star player voiced discontent with his decisions after a string of matches where we gave up leads, which, by the way, if you don't have fast solid defenders, is gonna happen a lot…

His last few matches with us were disastrous. The tactical decisions were pure panic, making up formations on the fly mid-game and trying players in new positions.”

It was pretty clear that Diego was not the correct manager to lead Miami in their inaugural season.

In comes Phil Neville.

Last season, Miami ignored the midfield; “hoofball” would be an accurate term to describe the Herons under Alonso in 2020.

Neville, on the other hand, has spoken about his desire to possess the ball, play through the middle all while keeping the team compact in order to press quickly if they lose it.

With the team’s friendly against Miami FC canceled, the guys have an extra week to work on team shape before they take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies on March 27th.


Pink vs Gray

This isn’t the first time Neville has hosted an intrasquad scrimmage before. In late 2020, the Englishman did something similar with the woman’s national team. It was only a matter of time before he brought that over to Miami.

Let’s break down the footage.

I’ll be using clips from these videos:

  1. https://www.intermiamicf.com/en/post/2021/03/17/view-match-supporters-section-inter-miami-cf-stadium

  2. https://www.intermiamicf.com/en/post/2021/03/17/best-seat-house-might-be-our-vip-seats-west-end

  3. https://www.intermiamicf.com/en/post/2021/03/17/lets-take-tour-east-end-our-stadium

Plus some additional footage from the club’s Instagram that wasn’t included in these three links.

From what we can see, it looks like the team could set up in a 4-3-3 or some variation of it. In this screenshot here, the Pink team is defending in a staggered, but compact 4-2-3-1. There’s a lot of bodies in the middle of the pitch which suggests that it won’t be easy to play through the team like it was last season.

The backline is a flat-four (dispelling the rumors about a potential back three...) and the wide players are pressing the opposition wingers in an attempt to cut off a pass. Last season, opposing teams played through Miami’s midfield with ease. It looks like Neville identified that issue quickly and fixed it upon his arrival.

Offensively, looking at the Gray team, there’s an interesting positional switch that we could see often in 2021.

Robbie Robinson was drafted out of Clemson as a center forward. He showed his ability to potentially play as a lone striker throughout the season, but as 2020 progressed, injuries and lack of form caught up with him, thus leading to a lack of playing time.

As a sort of experiment (but not really), Neville has pushed Robinson out wide to the left.

He’s even touched on it during press conferences:

During the scrimmage (I’ll use a screenshot from the video,) Robbie at one point was driving with the ball, thinking about a shot only to pass it back to a lurking Gonzalo Higuain at the top of the 18-yard-box. Gonzalo then passes the ball to Victor Ulloa, who kicks it out to Matias Pellegrini.

Pellegrini sees Rodolfo Pizarro making an off-the-shoulder by his defender (seen below,) then slides in a nice through ball to the Mexican who crosses the ball to Robinson at the back post.

There wasn’t a goal in the end, but this build-up showed Miami taking a more methodical, yet intense, approach to their offense this season.

Attacking-wise, it looks like the team will look to stay as compact as possible through the middle.

Neville has talked about getting Miami’s more creative players on the ball. Pair that with the Englishman’s insistence on inverted wingers tucking in to combine with the midfield, it looks like the days of “let Lewis Morgan cross it and pray,” are over.

As for the full-backs, Patrick Seagrist stressed that Neville likes them to get ‘high and wide’ as much as possible. With their poor defensive record last season, it wasn’t a surprise the club went out and reinforced the position with the acquisitions of Joevin Jones, Kelvin Leerdam, and Kieran Gibbs.

These three players will not only solidify Miami’s backline but they will also give Neville the attacking dynamic he wants out of the position.

For all the talk about how Miami could set up in 2021, it looks like they will improve upon their shape from last season.

With Pizarro finally getting comfortable, Lewis Morgan coming into his own, promising youngsters like Edison Azcona, and a full offseason for Higuain and Matuidi, the sky is the limit for the club.

2021 is their true expansion year.