Having started the match-day in second place must have been a morale booster to the squad, now they will look to cement their grip on that position by trying to beat the almost relegated SPAL in Ferrara. Match tonight Thursday at 21:45 CET.
The impressive comeback and win against Torino on Monday seems to have injected a much needed pep in Inter’s step. The team very much needed that kind of win; one of control, team play and mental fortitude. Antonio Conte will know that this is following match at the all but relegated SPAL poses an excellent oppurtunity to build some positive momentum going into the final batch of tricky matches.
But this match will be no walk in the park. Despite being coached by Giampiero Ventura incarnate Luigi Di Biaggio, SPAL still do possess a couple of interesting players who can make a match out of it. Striker Andrea Petagna has been one of the provincial sides’ brightest stars this season, scoring a very impressive twelve goals so far.
Conte will want to make sure he doesn’t underestimate the hosts, or even indirectly send his men any signs of doing so through his squad selection, but will also be cognizant of the fact that his side are entering into the final stretch of the season where all can be won or lost.
Expect Inter to start the match with the forward pairing of Lautaro Martinez and Alexis Sanchez who both looked very sharp against Torino. Supporting them will probably be Christian Eriksen who appears set to make his first start after starting the previous two games on the bench. Much will be expected of Eriksen who’s incisive touches and vision will be highly needed against SPAL’s expected defensive congestion.
Should Inter win on Thursday, they will most likely have sealed Champions League qualification, and will be able to play the remainder of their matches with a degree of lightness and experimentation.
Plenty of interesting narratives out of Appiano for this match. Conte seems to be interested in continuing Romelu Lukaku’s rehabilitation, ensuring the big boy is fully fit for the final stretch. It seems that Stefan DiVrij will also be rested on account of him being one booking away from suspension and the Inter travel south to face Roma next.
It also looks unlikely that Nicolo Barella will have sufficiently recovered to make the squad. The only slim silver lining is that Victor Moses is once again available for selection, giving Conte some semblance of choice on the right flank.
Probable Line-up (3-4-1-2): Handanovic (C); Bastoni, Skriniar, D’Ambrosio; Moses, Gagliardini, Brozovic, Biraghi; Eriksen; Sanchez, Lautaro
Last Season: Not played, Verona in Serie B
Last 10 Head to Head: Since this is only SPAL’s third season ever in the Serie A, there aren’t ten matches of head to head encounters between the two sides to look back to. That said, over their previous five encounters, Inter have won four and not lost.
Keep an Eye on:
Alexis Sanchez: Monday’s match against Torino saw the Chilean look his best since his days at Arsenal. He seemed sharp, fresh but most importantly: really up for the challenge. If Sanchez is to start, as widely expected, it will be great to see him string a few matches at that level of performance together.
Referee: Antonio Giua.
Assistants: Alassio and Gori.
Fourth Official: Abbattista.
VAR: Doveri and Di Iorio.
Prediction & Concluding Remarks
Prediction & scorers: SPAL 0 – 2 Inter with Sanchez finally scoring and Lautaro sealing the deal.
Concluding remarks: This will be a tough match, make no mistake about it. With nothing but pride to really play for expect SPAL to exhibit a type of football that may not involve the intensity usually seen with relegation battling sides, but instead will not bear the burden of the relegation specter on their shoulders. SPAL will be having fun out there.