This week Inter welcome Stefano Pioli’s Lazio to the San Siro on Sunday 20 December 2015 (kick off 20:45 CET) in their last Serie A match of 2015 before the Winter break.
Inter come into this game on the back of a great week for the club, following up last weekend’s 0-4 win at Udinese with a 3-0 win against Cagliari in the Coppa Italia in midweek to qualify for the quarter-finals and a match against Napoli.
With last weekend’s draw between Napoli and Roma, along with Fiorentina’s loss to Juventus, Inter are already Campione D’Inverno or Winter Champions and cannot be caught at the top of the Serie A table, with a four point lead ahead of the last round of fixtures before the break.
As said it has been a great week for Inter but not just on a results basis but on the squad as a whole who really seem to be together with the players who don’t play as much often coming in and performing well in Roberto Mancini’s squad rotation tactic as seen against Cagliari, well actually all of the season so far and the morale at the club is extremely high at this moment.
Stefano Pioli’s Lazio team have really had a Jekyll & Hyde season so far with the side qualifying comfortably from their Europa League group as winners but their form in Serie A has took a nosedive due to the squad’s inability to cope with both competitions it seems.
Lazio’s season had started well with victories in Serie A against Bologna(2-1), Udinese(2-0), Genoa(2-0), Hellas Verona(1-2), Frosinone(2-0) and Torino(3-0) but losses against Chievo(4-0), Napoli(5-0), Sassuolo(2-1), Atalanta(2-1), Milan(1-3), Roma(2-0), Empoli(1-0) an Juventus(0-2) has resulted in the Capital club picking up just two points from their last seven league matches after draws with Sampdoria(1-1) and Palermo(1-1), which sees Lazio sit in 12th place in the standings on 20 points.
Here is the Inter team news and probable line up as reported by Sky Sport Italia 24:
Samir Handanovic starts in goal after another clean sheet, his 11th this season, against Udinese last weekend.
At right back Martin Montoya could start after two decent performances in the last two games, the Spaniard’s first appearances of the season. Danilo D’Ambrosio is also available again after his one match suspension along with Davide Santon who has returned from injury.
In central defence Joao Miranda and Jeison Murillo start while at left back Alex Telles is favoured over Yuto Nagatomo.
In a midfield three Gary Medel is expected to start alongside Inter’s man of the moment Marcelo Brozovic and one of Fredy Guarin or Geoffrey Kondogbia with the Colombian favoured.
In an attacking trident Mauro Icardi is expected to start after his double strike last weekend along with Adem Ljajic and another scorer from last weekend’s win in Stevan Jovetic.
Probable Inter line up (subject to change): (4-3-3) Handanovic; Montoya, Miranda, Murillo, Telles; Guarin, Medel, Brozovic; Ljajic, Icardi (c), Jovetic
Bench: Carrizo, Berni, Juan Jesus, Dodo, Santon, D’Ambrosio, Nagatomo, Kondogbia, Gnoukouri, Melo, Palacio, Biabiany, Perisic, Manaj
Inter have faced Lazio 73 times at the San Siro in Serie A with Inter leading the stats with 41 wins to Lazio’s 8 wins with 24 draws.
In the overall Serie A records (home & away), Inter continue to lead the stats with 60 wins to Lazio’s 34 wins with 52 of the 146 meetings ending in a draw.
In last season’s corresponding fixture between the sides on 21 December 2014, Lazio were 2 goals up through a Felipe Anderson double before Inter hit back through Kovacic and Palacio for a 2-2 draw.
Roberto Mancini broke a record of treble winning Inter coach Jose Mourinho after last weekend’s win in Udine and now Inter have won 17 points away from home so far this season, 1 point more than Mourinho’s record at the same stage of the 2009/10 treble season.
Also last weekend Mauro Icardi and Stevan Jovetic scored in the same game for the first time this season.
The last Italian player to score for Inter was Andrea Ranocchia in a 0-2 win at Chievo on 15 December 2014, since then Inter have scored 68 goals with all of them coming from non-Italians.
Player to Watch: Marcelo Brozovic – #EpicBrozo as he is now known has been superb in Inter’s last two matches with wonderful strikes from distance. The Croatian could score his third of the week here and I wouldn’t bet against it with the way he’s performing.
My Prediction: Inter 3-0 Lazio
Scorers: Brozovic, Icardi x2
Officials: Referee: Paolo Mazzoleni Assistants: Di Liberatore, Preti
Fourth Official: Meli Additional Assistants: Rizzoli, Di Bello
Author’s Note: Inter have been expected to beat Lazio before as not one of us will forget losing the Scudetto on the last day of the 2001/02 season against the Capital club but I’m very confident that this season’s Inter have what it takes to win against a Lazio team with no win in seven games and with a coach on the brink of losing his job.