Finally the international break is over as Inter return to action in their hunt for Champions League qualification when they take on a Torino side sliding towards the relegation zone at the San Siro on Sunday night (kick-off 20:45CET).
Inter come into this game on the back of a 1-1 draw at the Stadio Olimpico against Champions League qualification rivals Roma.
It was a game that Inter controlled against the league’s top scorers for 70 minutes before the introduction of Edin Dzeko, not that the Bosnian had a great game, but it was his miss-hit shot that set-up an equaliser for Radja Nainggolan.
It was very unlucky from Inter’s perspective as they were resolute throughout the game, however they let in an equaliser in the last five minutes of the match, and not for the first time this season. The Nerazzurri have now conceded eight goals this season in the last five minutes of matches, a worrying stat.
Positive news for Inter is the form of Croatian winger Ivan Perisic, who after opening the scoring in Rome has now scored in his last three matches, bringing his tally of league goals to six.
The most disappointing thing about the draw in Rome is that Inter missed an opportunity to close the gap to the Giallorossi to just two points. However there is optimism that the Nerazzurri can still get that all-important third place due to recent performances and due to arguably having a better run-in compared to Roma.
With eight matches left in Serie A, Roma sit in third place, five points ahead of Fiorentina(4th) and Inter(5th).
Roma still have to play against Lazio in the Derby della Capitale before matches against Bologna(H), Atalanta(A), Torino(H), Napoli(H), Genoa(A), Chievo(H) and Milan(A).
While Inter, after the Torino game will face Frosinone(A), Napoli(H), Genoa(A), Udinese(H), Lazio(A), Empoli(H) and Sassuolo(A).
Worth mentioning is that should Inter and Roma finish level on points come the end of the season, then the Nerazzurri would finish ahead of the Giallorossi thanks to a better head-to-head record with a win and a draw.
Torino come into this game in freefall after a run of just two wins in their last 16 league matches, a run of form that has seen the pressure rise on Coach Giampiero Ventura.
The Granata’s last outing was a 1-4 Derby della Mole defeat to Turin rivals Juventus. It was a game where Torino were on the end of some crucial errors by the officials and referee Nicola Rizzoli in particular but the performance by Ventura’s side wasn’t good enough in truth.
That loss took Torino’s run without a win to five matches (three defeats, two draws) and sees the Granata slip to 13th place in the Serie A table, just five points outside the relegation zone.
Inter can’t afford to take Torino lightly however, as the Granata won this fixture last season but on the other hand the Turin club’s chances won’t be made any easier with captain Kamil Glik suspended and on-loan striker Ciro Immobile injured.
Here is the Inter team news and probable line-up as reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport at the time of writing this article:
The big news is that Inter should have a full squad to choose from after the returns of captain Mauro Icardi, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Stevan Jovetic from injury along with Rodrigo Palacio after his suspension.
Samir Handanovic starts in goal with Danilo D’Ambrosio favoured over Davide Santon at right back. In central defence Joao Miranda and Jeison Murillo are expected to continue their partnership alongside Yuto Nagatomo who is favoured over Alex Telles at left back.
Roberto Mancini is expected to stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation of recent games with a double-pivot in front of the defence of Gary Medel and Geoffrey Kondogbia.
In the attacking positions Eder or Rodrigo Palacio will start on the right with the in-form Ivan Perisic on the left. In the trequartista role Marcelo Brozovic is expected to start ahead of Adem Ljajic behind the returning 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; Eder, Brozovic, Perisic; Icardi (c).
Bench: Carrizo, Berni, Juan Jesus, Santon, Telles, Gnoukouri, Melo, Biabiany, Ljajic, Jovetic, Palacio, Manaj.
Inter have faced Torino at the San Siro in Serie A on 71 occasions with the Nerazzurri leading the stats with 37 wins to the Granata’s 10 wins with 24 matches drawn.
In the overall Serie A records (home & away), Inter continue to lead the stats with 64 wins to Torino’s 33 wins with 46 of the 143 league encounters drawn.
The earlier fixture between the sides this season on 8 November 2015 at the Stadio Olimpico in Turin finished 0-1 to Inter thanks to a Geoffrey Kondogbia goal.
In last season’s corresponding fixture on 25 January 2015, Torino won 0-1 thanks to a 94th minute Emiliano Moretti header.
Last season’s win for Torino at the San Siro was the Granata’s first win against Inter in Milan since a 0-1 win way back in February 1988.
Player to Watch: Mauro Icardi – Inter’s top scorer returns to give the Nerazzurri a much needed focal point to their attack, something that was missing against Roma. The Argentine will also be out to get one over on Torino’s Maxi Lopez in the Derby della Wanda.
My Prediction: Inter 2-0 Torino
Scorers: Perisic, Icardi
Officials: Referee: Marco Guida Assistants: Giallatini, Ranghetti
Fourth Official: Vuoto Additional Assistants: Valeri, Di Bello
Author’s Note: Every match for Inter now is a must-win if they are to achieve their objective of Champions League qualification. Positive performances against Juventus in the Coppa Italia, Palermo, Bologna and Roma last time out show that the Nerazzurri are capable of maintaining their run for third however nothing less than a win will do against Torino.