The league race is over, but there is still plenty to play for, and a win against Napoli allows Inter to go into the final match in pole position for a second place finish. Match today, Tuesday at 21:45 CET.
Rino Gattuso looks like a miracle worker with the job he has done at Napoli. The young Italian’s no nonsense, straightforward brand of football has so far led to a Coppa Italia victory and a possible top six league finish.
Both things highly unlikely when he took over the dysfunctional mutinying club from mentor Carlo Ancelotti earlier in the season.
Gattuso has stabilized the side, worked on morale and team spirit and unified his squad of talented players, putting them on an impressive league run of thirteen matches where the Southerners only lost twice. His best work has been in the reformation of the midfield, with Allan looking back to his best, Eljif Elmas putting in performances worthy of his hype and Fabian Ruiz and Piotr Zielinski looking like the top midfielders we know them to be, Napoli has rediscovered their shape and identity.
That said, Gattuso goes into the match with a few headaches, a suspended Dries Mertens, an injured Kostas Manolas and on a run of five matches that have just two wins. The season ending mad-dash schedule has been extremely physically demanding and clearly Napoli are not immune.
Antonio Conte’s Inter has continued to confound fans with great performances that have not led to wins, average performances that have led to big wins and great halves that haven’t led to match wins. Ultimately, Inter’s form since lockdown has been extremely inconsistent.
With just two matches to go and a possible second place finish on the cards, Conte will really want to put a stamp on the season and show any would-be critics or detractors tangible steps forward and improvements on previous seasons’ results.
With Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez both scoring against Genoa, expect the pair to start the match and to be fired up and up for it. This will probably a very different match to the one we saw in the Coppa Italia semifinal earlier this year. Expect an open game where both teams go for the jugular.
The footballing gods have smiled upon Conte and brought him back Stefan De Vrij much sooner than initially feared when the Dutchman had to hobble off the pitch against Fiorentina a couple of matches ago with what looked like serious knee damage.
In other wonderful news, midfield magician Stefano Sensi is finally training with his teammates and may yet make an appearance this season. With midfield permanent presence since lockdown, Roberto Gagliardini out suspended, the top duo of Marcelo Brozovic and Nicolo Barella will both start the match.
Probable line-up (3-4-1-2): Handanovic (C); Bastoni, de Vrij, Skriniar; Biraghi, Barella, Brozovic, Candreva; Valero; Sanchez, Lukaku.
Last Season: Inter 1 – 0 Napoli.
Last 10 Head to Head: It’s a very tight record between the two sides recently. Napoli slightly edge Inter out with three wins to two, but draws are the name of the game with the five remaining matches ending in stalemates.
Keep an Eye on
Alexis Sanchez: Yet again the Chilean forward rolled back the years against Genoa and showed that the understanding between him and Big Rom is very high at the moment. Sanchez has been providing assists since the league resumption better than anyone in the continent save for Lionel Messi, now it seems he’s found his scoring boots as well.
Referee: Paolo Valeri.
Assistants: Del Giovane and Prenna.
Fourth Official: Prontera.
VAR: Irrati and Galetto.
Prediction & Concluding Remarks
Prediction & scorers: Inter 3 – 2 Napoli. Candreva, Sanchez and Lukaku to score.
Concluding remarks: A tough match where the visitors will fight for the victory blow for blow. Expect Lukaku to provide the extra bit of quality to earn the Nerazzurri the three points.