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Serie A Preview: Inter vs Sassuolo

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It's three points or bust for the Nerazzurri as they get set to host the Serie A new boys…

Claudio Villa

You must excuse me for pointing out that the doomsday clock is counting down to the inevitable apocalypse and only a 'Prophet' can save us now.

Luckily, salvation is on the way in the form of a 28-year-old Brazilian dynamo with a flair for the dramatic. A little too heavy on the hyperbole? Maybe, but the situation at Appiano Gentile is growing more dire by the week.

Hernanes' presence in midfield will be a sight for sore eyes for the Inter faithful, who have endured a wretched start to 2014. The Nerazzurri have failed to win in the new calendar year and have posted only one victory in their last 10 Serie A games.

Walter Mazzarri received the dreaded vote of confidence from president Erick Thohir earlier this week. Anything less than a win and Mazzarri risks having his name added to the ignominious list of Inter managers, who failed to last 12 months at the club.

I don't think it will get to that point but no scenarios, however bizarre or improbable can be discounted at Inter.

Sassuolo has dropped three straight games since beating Milan on Jan. 12 and have lost seven of its last eight. It comes as no surprise then that they sit second-last and Alberto Malesani's men will look to avenge the 7-0 drubbing at the hands of Inter earlier in the season.

Can we expect the Nerazzurri to win by a touchdown again on Sunday? I highly doubt it, but I would be surprised if Danilo D'Ambrosio and Hernanes don't give Inter a much-needed shot in the arm.

THE VITALS

Date: Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014

Time: 2:45 ET

Venue: Giuseppe Meazza

BATTLE DOSSIER

Inter Probable Formation: 3-5-1-1: Handanovic; Campagnaro, Rolando, Juan Jesus; D'Ambrosio, Taider, Hernanes, Guarin, Nagatomo; Kovacic, Palacio

Sassuolo Probable Formation: 3-5-2: Pegolo; Cannavaro, Manfredini, Ariaudo; Rosi, Brighi, Marrone, Biondini, Longhi; Berardi, Floccari

Unavailable For Duty: Esteban Cambiasso is nursing a thigh injury and has not been cleared to return while Ricky Alvarez could be sidelined for up to a month with a strained hamstring.

Operation Seventh Heaven Redux Edition:
The objective is to inflict another heavy defeat against a familiar foe, who has recently received reinforcements, but has the same incompetent commanders.

Enemy Of The State: I really dig Domenico Berardi, I really do, especially after he scored four goals against Milan. The 19-year-old is definitely one for the future, but in the meantime Rolando and company need to keep an eye on his movements at all times. Give this kid any sort of space and things are bound to get hairy.

Fear Factor: 3: Sassuolo is as scary as the new kid in high school, who tries to earn the respect of his peers by picking as many fights as possible. Problem is he's only 5'7,155 pounds and he quickly becomes a laughing stock, but surprises everyone with a knockout blow to Milan one of the heavyweights in school, causing a high-profile breakup, before descending back into mediocrity.

Medal Of Honor: I'm not expecting Hernanes to score three goals and set up two more in his debut (would be awesome if he did), but I'm hoping he creates some scoring opportunities. Inter has only managed two goals in its last five league matches and desperately needs a creative artist to pull the strings in midfield.

If Inter Wins: I will crack the Schneider Weisse Tap X Mein Nelson Sauvin in my fridge to aid me in remembering what winning actually feels like.

If Inter Loses: I will crank up the 'Walter Zenga for Inter Manager' campaign with unrelenting zeal.

Likely Outcome: You have to admit that our starting lineup looks pretty stellar on first glance, and really stellar on the second and third. The good guys get back on track with an emphatic 3-0 win. Ship it.