Inter start off their highly anticipated campaign by hosting tricky Fiorentina. With Juventus winning their opener, the Nerazzurri can’t afford to be behind the Champions by more than three points. Match tomorrow Saturday at 20:45 CET.
Antonio Conte’s Inter seem to be in the middle of mild revolution. The Italian tactician and the team’s management appear to believe that this is the season they can mount a real challenge for the Scudetto. Newcomers to the squad have brought in top experience and quality, with an eye on delivering immediate results rather than just potential.
Conte’s biggest headache last season seemed to be the inability to fully integrate Christian Eriksen into the side. It appears that Arturo Vidal’s signing was intended to provide the required physicality and dynamism in the middle of the field to enable Eriksen to occupy the free role between the lines that he so desires.
Expect Aleksandar Kolarov to start at the left side of the back three, taking up the position normally occupied by Alessandro Bastoni who will fill in at the center of defense for the suspended Stefan DiVrij. Ivan Perisic is expected to start at left wing-back with Achraf Hakimi making his eagerly expected league debut on the opposite flank.
It appears that Conte will be deploying a very attacking side, with Vidal and Nicolo Barella the sole anchors in the middle of the field providing protection to the back three.
Fiorentina will be traveling to Milano with three points on their mind. The Viola have reinforced extremely well over the summer and now possess a very balanced and promising side. The signing of midfielder Nordin Amrabat further reinforced an already strong midfield where the highly rated Gaetano Castrovili has wreaking havoc all through last season.
It appears that the match will be won by controlling the midfield, if Inter can out-muscle the visitors at the center of the pitch, and secure the wide channels where perpetual simulator Federico Chiesa will search for openings to run at the defense, the Nerazzurri will probably have thus limited the visitors’ threats to just an aging Franck Ribery and his attacking partner Christian Kouame.
With Fiorentina often playing a very wide game, expect there to be spaces for Erisken to pop into to feed his attacking duo. This has all the makings of an open and attacking match written all over it.
There is no shortage of news coming out of Appiano these days. With regards to injuries and suspensions, Conte will only be missing Stefan DiVrij through a single match suspension. The manager will otherwise have a fully fit side to chose from with the exception of the potentially departing and perpetually injured Matias Vecino.
In other squad news, Inter will no longer have the services of Antonio Candreva and Diego Godin who have moved on to Sampdoria and Cagliari respectively. It also appears that Andrea Ranocchia to Genoa is all but a done deal and that the aforementioned Vecino will be off to Napoli in the coming week.
Probable line-up (3-4-1-2): Handanovic (C); Kolarov, Bastoni, D’Ambrosio; Perisic, Vidal, Barella, Hakimi; Eriksen; Lautaro, Lukaku.
Last Season: Inter 0 – 0 Fiorentina.
Last 10 Head to Head: It’s a very tight record between the two sides with four of the last five encounters between the pair ending in draws, and either side recording three wins over the last ten matches. That said, the last time a home team lost in the fixture was when Fiorentina beat Inter at the Meazza all the way in 2015.
Keep an Eye on
Christian Eriksen: The enigmatic Danish playmaker might not have had a full preseason to work with Conte and the team, but all signs seem to point to the fact that Conte is determined to find a correct place for him in the side. There’s no doubt that Eriksen is a world class talent, but will he be able to evolve his style of play to become a consistent presence and difference maker for Inter?
Referee: Gianpaolo Calvarese.
Assistants: Fiorito and Liberti.
Fourth Official: Maresca.
VAR: Giacomelli and Preti.
Prediction & Concluding Remarks
Prediction & scorers: Inter 2 – 1 Fiorentina. Lautaro and Barella to score.
Concluding remarks: While it is important to start off a campaign on the right foot, it might be more important here to see real development and cohesion in the side to build on from last season’s impressive run. If Inter can demonstrate tangible improvement, we can all be led to believe in a real title challenge.