This Sunday night, 1 May 2016, sees Inter travel to the Stadio Olimpico to face mid-table Lazio (kick-off 20:45 CET).
Inter come into this game on the back of a 3-1 win against Udinese at the San Siro last weekend. Despite going behind to a Cyril Thereau volley, the Nerazzurri bounced back with a Stevan Jovetic brace and Eder’s first goal in a black and blue shirt since his January move from Sampdoria.
It was the first time this season that Inter had managed to turnaround a losing position in a match to win. Having not scored since the reverse fixture between the sides in Week 16, Jovetic’s double took his tally of league goals to six with half of them coming against the Zebrette.
With the Nerazzurri seven points behind Roma with three games to play it isn’t likely, barring a miracle that Inter will qualify for next season’s Champions League.
The objective now is to finish the season in the right way and consolidate fourth-place which would see the Nerazzurri qualify for the Europa League group phase, thus not having to play a tricky qualifier and not having to pull out of the pre-season International Champions Cup friendly tournament which would cost the club 3.5M Euro.
Lazio come into this game in patchy form under caretaker Coach Simone Inzaghi, who was promoted from the Primavera set-up after Stefano Pioli’s sacking in early April.
Inzaghi’s first two games in charge brought wins against Palermo(0-3) and Empoli(2-0) with two clean-sheets but his next two matches resulted in defeats to Juventus(3-0) and Sampdoria(2-1) last weekend.
The younger brother of ex-Milan and Juve striker Pippo will want to put forward his credentials for the permanent job with a strong finish to the season and possible European qualification although that target is looking increasingly unlikely.
The Aquile sit in ninth-place in the standings, five points behind Milan in sixth-place with three to play. The reason that sixth-position is so important is because it could qualify a team for the Europa League qualification round.
Should Juventus beat Milan in the Coppa Italia final, then the team in sixth-place will be handed a route into Europe. The four teams vying for this are the Rossoneri(53 points), Sassuolo(52), Chievo(48) and Lazio(48). If Milan were to beat Juve in the cup then sixth-place will not enter Europe.
Here is the Inter team news and probable line-up as reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport at the time of writing this article:
Roberto Mancini is set to use a 4-2-3-1 formation with Samir Handanovic in goals. At right back Danilo D’Ambrosio is set to return alongside the central defensive partnership of Joao Miranda and Jeison Murillo with Yuto Nagatomo expected at left back.
The double-pivot in midfield will see Gary Medel return after his suspension to partner the improving Geoffrey Kondogbia.
In the attacking positions Marcelo Brozovic is favoured over Jonathan Biabiany and Eder for a place on the right with Ivan Perisic set to start on the left.
In the trequartista role Stevan Jovetic is expected to keep his place over Rodrigo Palacio, behind Mauro Icardi in the central striking role.
Probable Inter line-up (subject to change): (4-2-3-1) Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Miranda, Murillo, Nagatomo; Medel, Kondogbia; Brozovic, Jovetic, Perisic; Icardi (c)
Bench: Carrizo, Berni, Juan Jesus, Santon, Telles, Gnoukouri, Melo, Biabiany, Ljajic, Eder, Palacio, Manaj
Lazio have faced Inter at the Stadio Olimpico in Serie A on 72 occasions with the Aquile winning 25 to the Nerazzurri’s 19 with 28 meetings drawn.
In the overall league encounters (home & away), Inter lead the stats with 59 wins to Lazio’s 34 wins with 52 of the 145 games between the sides drawn.
The earlier meeting between the teams this season at the San Siro ended in a 1-2 Lazio win with goals from Icardi (Inter) and Candreva x2 (Lazio). Felipe Melo was also sent-off and gave away the late penalty that won it for the Aquile.
Last season’s corresponding fixture in Rome finished in a 1-2 Inter win with goals from Candreva (Lazio) and Palacio x2 (Inter).
Lazio Coach Simone Inzaghi played as a striker in Roberto Mancini’s Aquile side back in the 2003/04 season where they won the Coppa Italia against Juventus.
Player to Watch: Stevan Jovetic – The Montenegrin will want to build on his brace last weekend against Udinese. He has one goal and three assists against Lazio in seven appearances.
My Prediction: Lazio 1-2 Inter
Scorers: Candreva (Lazio), Icardi, Jovetic (Inter)
Officials: Referee: Luca Banti Assistants: Barbirati, Meli
Fourth Official: Vuoto Additional Assistants: Orsato, Cervellera
Author’s Note: Roberto Mancini must now come to terms with the likely possibility that Inter will not be playing Champions League football next season. The former Lazio player and Coach, needs to ensure that the team’s morale and motivation remains high to consolidate fourth-place. With a full squad to choose from I’m expecting nothing less than a win and revenge for the Nerazzurri’s earlier defeat to the Capital club this season.