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Serie A Preview: Inter vs Chievo

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The Nerazzurri look to get back on track with a win over the Flying Donkey's...

Paolo Bruno

All the joy from the derby victory over Milan has dissipated and now a sense of doom permeates through the winter air at Appiano Gentile.

'Zero Tituli' the headlines screamed after the loss to Udinese in the Coppa Italia and it's time for the cold, harsh truth to set in. Inter's season is effectively over in the middle of January.

It was not too long ago that hope ruled the day thanks to an impressive run of results and a new billionaire owner purchasing the club with the promise of big signings.

But shoddy play, ineffective tactics and no world-class winter arrivals have stamped out the euphoria that clouded our better judgement in the last few months.

Still, the idealistic side in me is saying that we can secure nine points in the three-game stretch against Chievo, Genoa and Catania and can pull off the upset against Juventus, which will kick start another winning run.

But this is just cruel thinking. I don't recommend it to anyone. One of my favourite Hunter S. Thompson quotes is "buy the ticket, take the ride." He wasn't talking about being an Inter fan but he might as well have as any Interisti of the last 20 years can attest to. This is starting to get heavy man and there's no backing out.

I find myself reminiscing about the triplete season. If the team fell behind, they would always come back to win. I remember smirking whenever the opposing side scored to pull ahead because I knew they were setting themselves up for disappointment. We would toy with opponents, we had another gear late in games that would take us past anyone standing in our way.

I foolishly expected the same thing to occur in both the Lazio and Udinese games until I realized that this hope of mine was just a leftover remnant from the Jose Mourinho days.

He's gone along with a majority of the players from that dream season and now we're left with guys like Fredy Guarin, who disrespects the fans, teammates and managers alike yet is given the starting nod week after week.

This is what we're left with as we try to climb up the long stairway to relevancy. Maybe the winter blahs have kicked in full effect but deep down I know that this squad doesn't have any second half heroics in it. Deep down I know that a late run at the last Champions League spot is just a pipe dream. Deep down I know that no top-class reinforcements are coming this January and that folks is just plain depressing.

THE VITALS

Date: Monday, January 13

Time: 3:00 pm ET

Venue: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza

BATTLE DOSSIER

Inter Probable Formation: 3-5-1-1: Handanovic; Campagnaro, Rolando, Juan Jesus; Jonathan, Alvarez, Cambiasso, Kuzmanovic, Nagatomo; Kovacic, Palacio

Chievo Probable Formation: 3-5-2: Puggioni; Frey, Dainelli, Cesar; Sardo, Radovanovic, Bentivoglio, Hetemaj, Drame; Paloschi; Thereau

Unavailable For Duty: Saphir Taider is still nursing a thigh injury while Mauro Icardi will miss Monday's festivities with a groin problem. Fredy Guarin is suspended for an accumulation of yellow cards.

Operation Stop The Bleeding: The objective is to secure a victory, any sort of victory to stop the downward plunge that threatens to derail the entire campaign.

Enemy Of The State: You just know that ex-Milan striker Alberto Paloschi is raring to score against the Nerazzurri. It would be great if we could stop that from happening.

Fear Factor: 6: Chievo is as scary as the unremarkable, average army battling shell shocked marines who have seen so much recent debauchery in the front lines that even a small amount of gunfire causes them to run around aimlessly in midfield, unable to muster up any sort of decent counterattack.

Medal Of Honor: Diego Milito might not see action from the opening whistle but he is primed to make a big impact on the encounter and hopefully his introduction will turn the tide of the battle.

If Inter Wins: I will crack the Founders Breakfast Stout that is not going to last the next 48 hours in my fridge.

If Inter Loses: I will crack a Founders Breakfast Stout and brace for the ensuing Interisti meltdown on Twitter.

Likely Outcome: If we lose to Chievo at home then we are in big trouble. We're certainly not firing on all cylinders but we have the talent to down the Flying Donkeys right... Right?