This Saturday 12 March 2016 sees Inter trying to keep their Champions League qualification hopes alive when they welcome Bologna to the San Siro (kick-off 20:45CET).
Inter come into this game in confident mood after a 3-1 win against Palermo last weekend which added to the confidence-boosting 3-0 win against Juventus last midweek albeit with Rodrigo Palacio’s missed penalty in the shoot-out putting the Nerazzurri out of the Coppa Italia at the semi-final stage.
The performance against Juve in the Italian Cup in particular has shown the Nerazzurri players what level they need to be at for the remainder of the season and that they should believe in themselves despite a run in 2016 that has seen Inter drop from first place to fifth in the table.
Finding the right attacking / defensive balance in the team is what Roberto Mancini has struggled with all season. Even when leading the table at Christmas with the best defensive record in the league, Inter were being criticised for a lack of goals however lately it’s the opposite with the Nerazzurri not as solid defensively but improving their attacking side of play after nine goals in their last three home games in all competitions.
Against Palermo, Inter gave a real all-round team performance but special credit must go to the Nerazzurri’s front four on the night of Mauro Icardi, Adem Ljajic, Rodrigo Palacio and Ivan Perisic, who all played a part in the three goals, as Inter look to put a run together that will unsettle the teams ahead of them.
After the win over Palermo, Inter sit in fifth place in the Serie A table, two points behind Fiorentina(4th) and five points behind Roma(3rd), who the Nerazzurri face next weekend at the Stadio Olimpico.
Bologna travel to the San Siro on the back of their third 0-0 result in a row against Reggio-Emilia derby rivals Carpi at the Dall’Ara last weekend, which sees the Rossoblu unbeaten in their last five league matches.
Roberto Donadoni was appointed as Bologna Coach on October 28 following a 0-1 defeat to Inter in Week 10 and the Rossoblu haven’t looked back with only four losses in the 18 matches since the ex-Milan winger took charge.
Despite the Rossoblu’s good form the goals have started to dry up and Bologna have now not scored in 281 minutes of football.
After their draw last weekend, Bologna sit in ninth place in the Serie A table, two points behind Lazio(8th) and seemingly comfortable in mid-table, 10 points clear of the relegation zone.
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 expected to keep the 4-2-3-1 formation used against Palermo last weekend.
Samir Handanovic returns in goal after missing the Palermo match with flu. Danilo D’Ambrosio is expected to start at right back alongside the central defensive partnership of Joao Miranda and Jeison Murillo with Yuto Nagatomo favoured over Alex Telles at left back.
In midfield Gary Medel is expected to be partnered by one of Geoffrey Kondogbia, Marcelo Brozovic or Felipe Melo with the Croatian at this stage favoured.
In the attacking positions Eder is expected to replace Rodrigo Palacio on the right with Ivan Perisic on the left and Adem Ljajic in the trequartista role behind captain 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, Brozovic; Eder, Ljajic, Perisic; Icardi(c).
Bench: Carrizo, Berni, Juan Jesus, Santon, Telles, Gnoukouri, Melo, Kondogbia, Biabiany, Palacio, Manaj.
Inter have faced Bologna at the San Siro in the league on 68 occasions with the Nerazzurri leading the stats with 38 wins to Bologna’s 10 wins with 20 matches drawn.
In the overall Serie A records (home & away), Inter continue to dominate the stats with 65 wins to Bologna’s 39 wins with 33 of the 137 meetings drawn.
The earlier meeting between the sides this season on October 27 ended in a 0-1 win for Inter at the Stadio Dall’Ara thanks to an Icardi goal.
Roberto Mancini has never lost to Roberto Donadoni as a Coach with the record reading played three, won two and drew one.
Inter amazingly haven’t beaten Bologna at the San Siro in the league since a 4-1 victory on January 15 2011 with goals from Stankovic, Milito and Eto’o x2. Since then the Rossoblu are unbeaten in their last three matches in Milan.
Inter will be looking to win four consecutive home league matches for the first time since the 2011/12 season under Andrea Stramaccioni after wins against Genoa, Siena, Cesena and Milan.
Player to Watch: Mauro Icardi – The Argentine scored last weekend to take his league tally of goals to 12 and he also scored in the reverse fixture between these sides this season.
My Prediction: Inter 3-1 Bologna
Scorers: Icardi, Ljajic, Eder (Inter), Giaccherini (Bologna)
Officials: Referee: Gianpaolo Calvarese Assistants: Posado, Schenone
Fourth Official: Di Fiore Additional Assistants: Irrati, Pairetto
Author’s Note: Inter are in confident mood after their last two performances and I can’t see the Nerazzurri losing this one. This is another must-win game for Inter ahead of the season defining meeting with Roma next week in the race for the third and final Champions League spot. It won’t be easy against a Bologna side who haven’t conceded in their last four matches but I have faith and I think our quality should shine through.