Inter’s last match before the much needed international break will be against tricky Hellas Verona at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milano’s San Siro district, tonight at 18.00 CET.
Coach Ivan Juric’s Hellas Verona were probably this season’s front-running contender for relegation on most pundits’ books at the start of the season. Surprisingly, the Gialloblu from Verona are now sitting pretty in the top half of the table, defying all preseason analysis and predictions.
Juric has built a side founded on solidity, in none of their matches this season so far have Hellas conceded more than two goals, and with just nine goals conceded so far this season, they have the joint best defense with Juventus. Remarkably, they also possess one of the league’s most impotent attacks as well. Having also just scored nine goals in total, they are second weakest offensive line in the Serie A.
What these numbers tell us is that Verona will most probably come to the Serie A to try and nick a cheeky point. They will sit back, defend in numbers and try and sucker punch the Nerazzurri on a quick break. This also means that Antonio Conte will probably be at liberty to attack in numbers. Valentin Lazaro and Antonio Candreva could be given a start on both flanks to inject some speed and dynamism that might be missing in the exhausted midfield.
Much has been made of Conte’s outburst in the post-match interview following the Dortmund game midweek. However, no one can argue with the fact that Inter’s midfield is limping towards the international break. The reoccurring Sensi injury, coupled with Roberto Gagliardini’s new fitness issues means that Conte will one again have to rely on the exhausted Marcelo Brozovic and Nicolo Barella along with the sub-par Matias Vecino in the midfield. Clearly the squad needs reinforcements if it is to successfully navigate the demands of three competitions per season.
Expect Conte to again give Lautaro a freer role, allowing the Argentine to pop up in front of the midfielders in empty spaces to link up play and distribute the ball in the final third. Romelu Lukaku will be tightly marked, but as long as the big Belgian is constantly mobile, he will free spaces for Lautaro and the attacking wing-backs. This match might be a long drawn-out frustrating affair unless Inter get a quick early goal.
The injury list keeps growing for Conte, with Stefano Sensi once again ruled out for his continuing muscular problems, he rejoins Danilo D’Ambrosio, Alexis Sanchez and the newly injured Roberto Gagliardini, Matteo Politano and Kwadwo Asamoah.
Probable line-up (3-5-2): Handanovic (C); Bastoni, DiVrij, Skriniar; Candreva, Vecino, Brozovic, Barella, Biraghi; Lautaro, Lukaku.
Last Season: Not played, Verona in Serie B.
Last 10 Head to Head: Inter have dominated the head to head record. With no losses and eight wins, one can only hope to continue the good run against the Veronese.
Keep an Eye on
Lautaro Martinez: The Argentinean striker has been in red hot form. After his gem of a goal against Dortmund, expect El Toro to want to continue his streak. The most impressive component of Lautaro’s game probably isn’t his goal-socring ability, but rather his link-up play and his ability to participate in construction of team attacks.
Referee: Paolo Valeri.
Assistants: Bottegon and Rocca.
Fourth Official: DiMartino.
VAR Assistants: Giacomelli and Vivenzi.
Prediction & Concluding Remarks
Prediction & scorers: Inter 2-0 Verona with Lukaku scoring first and Lautaro sealing the win.
Concluding remarks:While this was supposed to be a straightforward match before the break, the growing injury list added a another level of complexity. Compounding the injuries with Conte’s midweek outburst, one can see this match going any number of ways.