Inter finally have a chance to mathematically win the league, but they first must beat a plucky and free of any expectations Crotone. Match today at 18:00 CET.
Crotone are all up relegated; the jury is out as to whether that makes them more or less of a dangerous opponent given the stage in the season.
On the one hand, relegation battling sides always seem to put up the fight of their lives towards the end of the season. On the other had, an underdog, particularly one coached by a wily Serie A veteran coach like Serse Cosmi and with an attacking threat like Simy might fair well when not bound by the burden of expectation.
Inter have the burden of the most important expectations weighing the squad down. The team are on the cusp of a truly historic achievement; breaking the Juve scudetto monopoly before they hit the double digit mark, bringing back silverware to the club for the first time in a decade thus genuinely starting a winning cycle for the club.
The Nerazzurri have suffered greatly in their quest to pick up their last eight points in four matches. Match-end winners were required against Cagliari and Hellas and brave comeback performances were required against Napoli and Spezia.
Conte has had a full week to prepare his squad for the first time in a few weeks, and hopefully the Italian master tactician will have utilized the time well to prepare the team both physically and mentally.
Inter must play their game and have confidence in the fact that their quality, preparedness and ability will eventually be enough to break down the hosts.
Frustration and over eagerness to score will all play against the Nerazzurri in their quest to bring back all three points back to Milano.
Arturo Vidal and Aleksandar Kolarov are both still unavailable, however, the pair are expected to return to the squad shortly.
Otherwise, Conte will have a full and fit squad to chose from, a real luxury at this point of the season. After a couple of lackluster appearances, there are reports that Conte is considering replacing Christian Eriksen with Stefano Sensi in the midfield.
Probable Line-up (3-5-2): Handanovic (C); Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Sensi, Brozovic, Barella, Perisic; Lautaro, Lukaku
Last Season: Not played; Crotone on Serie B.
Last 10 Head to Head: In the five times the two sides have met in the Serie A, Inter have beaten Crotone three times while the Southerners have only managed one win against the Nerazzurri.
Keep an Eye on:
Romelu Lukaku: Big Rom hasn’t been having the best of times over the past few games. The Belgian talisman has failed to find the back of the net for a hot minute now and he will be most definitely looking to return to scoring, particularly against the league’s leakiest defensive line.
Referee: Alessandro Prontera.
Assistant referees: Mastrodonato and Margani.
Fourth Official: Pezzuto.
VAR: Manganiello and Di Vuolo
Prediction & Concluding Remarks
Prediction & scorers: Crotone 0 – 3 Inter with Lukaku scoring a brace and Lautaro bringing it home.
Concluding remarks: There’s no doubt that Inter have been feeling the pressure of the “almost scudetto” as of late. Not only are the players spent physically, but the mental burden of taking the campaign over the finish line seems to be wearing heavy on the players’ minds.
If Inter can put on a comprehensive display here with a strong win and performance, the league will be as good as won.