Despite beating SPAL comfortably back on 10 March, Inter Milan know they cannot rest easy in the race to finish in a Champions League qualification spot. With the stakes as high as ever in a season that has kept us all guessing, just what can Inter fans expect from the first three matches after the March Equinox?
The fact that two of them are home matches will be significant in gaining momentum for the final run-in. With seven of Inter’s last nine home-league wins having been accompanied by a clean sheet, the signs all point to the Nerazzurri continuing their excellent home form.
Inter 2-0 Spal: Two shots, two goals – the sort of efficiency Inter need in the battle to finish in the top four.
However, it may be ugly and tense on occasion. Three of Inter’s last four home-league wins were settled by just one goal. Curiously, every goal in that sequence has arrived beyond the hour mark: they haven’t conceded in the first half and won at home in any league game this season. And, although it’s a home game, the Nerazzurri’s first test is a tough one, against Lazio, following in the wake of their designated ‘away’ derby to AC Milan.
That tough nature of Inter’s immediate run of games was certainly not lost on the sportsbooks in mid-March. Casino Wings lists a whole host of casinos offering fast withdrawals, and punters looking to place their free bets safely had their pick of the lot: the consensus, judging by the odds, put Inter as the team most vulnerable to the chasing pack, in the race for the top four.
Lazio is among those chasers, but not unlike Inter at home, they have been forced to select their moments to be bold when travelling. This is evidenced by the fact that each of Lazio’s last four league matches on the road have been settled by just one goal or ended level.
Inter romped to victory in the reverse fixture vs Lazio, back in October.
Given the propensity of Inter’s home matches to come alive in the final half-hour of play, fans of the Nerazzurri can take some encouragement from the fact that – this month alone – the team from Rome has dropped five points within across two road trips.
Following what trends indicate could be a clash with Lazio (and one settled by a solitary late goal), Inter make the trip to Genoa, who are currently languishing in mid-table. And other than simply claiming the scalp of a top-six club for the second time this calendar year, there seems little logical reason for Genoa to play with all their hearts.
That said, they will undoubtedly be eager to avenge the 5-0 thrashing they took off Inter in November’s reverse fixture, and they have beaten Inter in each of the Nerazzurri’s last five league visits.
With four of those coming via a clean sheet – and three ending 1-0 – history is against Inter. Yet fine margins are to be expected again: prior to Genoa’s hosting of Juventus on 17 March, four of their last five home league games had finished level or settled by a single goal. Three of those four saw one team draw a blank.
After travelling to one of their least favourite venues, Inter host one of their favourite visitors. This 7-1 thrashing was a high point.
Following a trip to one of Inter’s least-favourite venues, they return home to face Atalanta. Much has been made of Atalanta’s standing as the league’s runaway top scorers after the peerless Juventus, but their current average of just over two goals per match doesn’t always equate to victory.
The most important stat for the home crowd though, is that Inter have beaten Atalanta in each of the last four head-to-head league encounters at the San Siro, and doing so with a clean sheet and/or via multiple goals on three occasions.
Inter should take pride in their achievements so far this season but, given their current position and the fine margins they seem to be pulling off, if they want to secure their place in the Champions League 2019/2020, they can’t afford to get complacent.