Former Inter defender Andrea Mandorlini believes that the club must beat Napoli on Wednesday in order to have any chance of winning the Serie A title, and feels defence will be key.

The Nerazzurri welcome the unbeaten league leaders to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in the first game back after the World Cup break, but trail Luciano Spalletti’s side by 11 points after just 15 matches.

In an interview with, Mandorlini suggested that Inter coach Simone Inzaghi needed to focus on his team’s defence in order to contain Napoli, whilst stressing the importance of victory to the Nerazzurri’s ambitions this season.

“The gap with Napoli is big, Inter are called to play their game and get a positive result. With such a gap, if things don’t go well, it will start to be really tough. They have to be ready, not winning would be serious,” the former Hellas Verona coach declared.

“Napoli have a lot of quality in midfield and up front, Simone is good and he knows well that he cannot concede space to the opponent.

“If the Nerazzurri’s defence holds up, there will be a great chance of getting a result. Inter must be compact and try to concede as little space as possible.”

It remains to be seen if Inzaghi will select one of Marcelo Brozovic or Hakan Calhanoglu, or indeed both, after the latter deputised during the Croatian’s injury absence before the break, but Mandorlini tipped Brozovic for the deeper midfield role.

“The physical condition has to be understood, but I think if Brozo is 100% he will play. I think like Simone, a guy like that can’t be taken off the pitch. Calha, however, can also play on the flank, so I think that he will be the team too.”

Similarly, it is expected that Inzaghi will pair strikers Edin Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku together, and Mandorlini suggested that they could be more suited than World Cup-winning Argentina forward Lautaro Martinez.

“I’ve always thought they can work together, especially in situations where maybe you need to recover.

“They need to be served with lots of crossed in, they are players of strength with a different specific weight to Lautaro and they give substance to the attack. They could be a good choice for a match like this.

“Lautaro will come back galvanised, despite not having played so much. Winning is always fundamental, it gives you spirit and he will definitely be ready for the second half of the season with his club,” Mandorlini concluded.

The 62-year-old made 180 appearances for Inter between 1984 and 1991, winning the Serie A title, the UEFA Cup, and the Coppa Italia.