Preview: Inter vs Empoli
Inter welcome Empoli to the San Siro on Sunday night (kick off 20:45 CET) in their last match of this Serie A season.
Inter still have a slight chance of Europa League qualification. Genoa, in 6th place have been denied a UEFA licence so 7th place currently held by Sampdoria would qualify for Europe.
Inter sit in 8th place, three points behind Sampdoria, with the head to head records between the two clubs even so if Inter win against Empoli and Sampdoria lose to Parma, Inter would qualify for Europe due to goal difference with Inter on +10 and Sampdoria on +6 goal difference.
Inter come into this game on the back of two disappointing defeats against Juventus (2-1) and Genoa last weekend (3-2) in matches that were lost in the closing stages.
Empoli have succeeded in their goal this season of avoiding relegation in their first season back in Serie A for six years.
Maurizio Sarri has done a fantastic job at Empoli from saving them from relegation in Serie B to establishing the club in Serie A. The fact that they achieved safety in April shows that they have had a comfortable season overall and they currently sit in 15th place, 11 points clear of the relegation zone.
Empoli come into this match on the back of two defeats against Fiorentina (3-2) and Verona (2-1) as well as a 1-1 draw with Sampdoria last weekend at the Stadio Castellani.
Here is the Inter team news and probable line up as reported by CDS:
Samir Handanovic will start in goal in what could be his last game for Inter, with the player wanting to play Champions League football.
In defence Nemanja Vidic is still out with back pain so captain Andrea Ranocchia will be partnered with Juan Jesus.
On the flanks Danilo D’Ambrosio is suspended so Davide Santon will play on the right with Yuto Nagatomo on the left.
Inter’s midfield is expected to stay the same with Gary Medel partnered with Croatian duo Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic.
In the trequartista role Hernanes who turned 30 this week keeps his place ahead of Xherdan Shaqiri.
Up top Rodrigo Palacio plays alongside capo-cannoniere candidate Mauro Icardi.
Probable Inter line up (subject to change): (4-3-1-2) Handanovic, Santon, Ranocchia (c), Juan Jesus, Nagatomo, Medel, Brozovic, Kovacic, Hernanes, Palacio, Icardi.
Bench: Carrizo, Berni, Andreolli, Felipe, Donkor, Di Marco, Kuzmanovic, Obi, Gnoukouri, Podolski, Puscas, Bonazzoli, Correia.
Inter lead in the head to head records between the sides with 13 wins in the 19 fixtures played in Serie A.
The reverse fixture between the teams earlier this season at the Stadio Castellani finished in a 0-0 stalemate.
Empoli haven’t beaten Inter since 30 April 2006 when a Marco Materazzi own goal in injury time won it for the Tuscans.
Mauro Icardi goes into this match level with Carlos Tevez on 20 goals in the race for the top goal scorer award, with veteran striker Luca Toni in the lead with 21 goals.
Empoli are the only current Serie A team that Inter’s Rodrigo Palacio has not scored against in his career.
Player to Watch: Mauro Icardi – Empoli could prove to be the perfect opponents for Icardi to score against in his quest for capo’cannoniere glory. Icardi is 1 behind Toni and level with Tevez. Toni and Tevez play each other this weekend so this is a big chance for Maurito.
My Prediction: Inter 3-0 Empoli
Scorers: Icardi x2, Brozovic
Officials: Referee: Antonio Damato Assistants: Giallatini, Vivenzi
Fourth Official: Posado Additional Assistants: Banti, Pezzuto
Author’s Note: A lot of these players are playing for their futures but I believe Inter have enough quality to win this game. Add to that the fact that they owe the fans a big performance at the San Siro. Unfortunately I can’t see Parma beating Sampdoria so a win will be in vain in the quest for Europe.