Preview: Inter vs Roma – Champions League Contenders Collide
Inter return after the much needed winter break with a sense of rejuvenation hoping to give Roma’s third place hopes a strong knock. Match on Sunday at 2045 CET.
The winter break could not have come soon enough for the Nerazzurri; after having begun the season in almost explosive fashion, a terrible winless streak of five league games saw the once league contenders drop to a distant third place to find themselves in the midst of a dog-fight for a Champions League position with both Roma and Lazio.
Interestingly, direct competitors and Sunday’s opponents Roma have been on a poor run of form themselves. The Giallorossi have lost two and drawn one of their past three matches, and have just one win in six games in all competitions. Both Inter and Roma need a win to reset the course of their respective seasons and begin the second half on a positive note.
Inter’s transfer mercato is slowly looking like their previous summer market, no nonsense signings to fill in real gaps in the squad. That being said, expect Luciano Spaletti to change little in terms of either tactics or formation from manner in which he began the season. Spaletti will hope that the winter break will breath some new life into his overworked wingers Ivan Perisic and Antonio Candreva. Both players have been almost the only offensive outlet for the side, and without them in form, Mauro Icardi had little or no service and the goals dried up.
It will be interesting to see if Spaletti, aside from utilizing potential newcomers to change his side’s shape, has used the break to breathe new tactical life into his side. Teaching Inter to explore more diversified attacking options that use more than just the flanks when building attacks. Most promising has been the work put in by Joao Cancelo on the right side, if he is able to cut into the middle to bring in some added threat, then this could potentially be a dangerous weapon for Inter.
Finally Inter go into a Serie A match with central defensive cover. Despite both Andrea Ranocchia and Danilo D’Ambrosio probably sitting this match out, new signing Lisandro Lopez will be available and on the bench to cover for Milan Skriniar and Joao Miranda. The defensive duo finally reunites after Miranda’s recovery from a long layoff. Reports suggest that Davide Santon will probably start on the left flank ahead of Yuto Nagatomo. Team selection aside, most news regardign the Inter camp has been related to the potential completion of the Rafinha transfer with the attacking midfielder reportedly scheduled to be at the Meazza as a spectator for the match.
Probable Inter line-up (subject to change): (4-2-3-1) Handanovic; Santon, Miranda, Skriniar, Cancelo; Gagliardini, Vecino; Perisic, Valero, Candreva; Icardi (C)
Last Season: Inter 1 – 3 Roma
Last 10 Head to Head: Both sides’ head-to-head record in the last ten matches is finely balanced, with Roma slightly edging Inter out; having one four matches to Inter’s three victories.
Keep an Eye on
Ivan Perisic and Antonio Candreva: It is no secret that one of the most critical factors in Inter’s poor run in attacking form has been the fact that both wingers had run themselves into the ground for the most part of the first half of the season. If the pair have managed to rest well (both mentally and physically) during the break, then expect them both to be on their best against Roma.
Refereree: Davide Massa
Assistants: Meli, Costanzo
Fourth Official: Banti
Additional Assistants: Damato, Vuoto
Prediction & Authors Note
Prediction & scorers: Inter 3 – 1 Roma Icardi, Perisic and Vecino to score.
Author’s Note: It’s not difficult to imagine that with team having been deservedly well rested during the last two weeks and with the positivity surrounding another seemingly successful winter mercato, that Inter will begin the second part of the season with the same purpose and intensity that was a hallmark of their season start. There’s no better team to lay a marker against that a slightly unbalanced Roma. A convincing win here will send a message to everyone, within the club and outside it, that Inter is back.