Date: Sunday, December 20, 2015
Time: 2:45 p.m. ET / 20:45 CET
Venue: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza; Milan, Italy
There could be no better time to face Lazio than this Sunday.
The Biancocelesti are in a deep crisis and they look nothing like the team that impressed everyone last season by finishing in third place while playing extremely exciting and effective football. It was the 25th of October when Pioli's squad last won a Serie A match and, since then, they have lost 5 and drawn 2 - scoring just 4 goals and conceding 12. They currently sit in 12th position, having collected 20 points in 15 games played.
Inter, on the other hand, have won 6 of their last 7 league matches, conceding only 2 goals in that span of matches. Both goals against them came in their only loss against Napoli two weeks ago. Their confidence is through the roof after winning again this Tuesday in the Coppa Italia against Cagliari without conceding any goals, despite a highly reshaped squad.
With the top spot in the Serie A secured until next year the Nerazzurri may approach the match without the utmost concentration, but it will be very important for them to play as well as they have so far to try to increase the gap between them and their pursuers, even though none of them have difficult challenges this week (on paper, at least).
Mancini, in his pre-game press conference, repeated many times how difficult and important this match is, despite Lazio's recent slump. He doesn't want to settle for less than a victory against a quality team like them, even if first place is already sealed going into the winter break. He also hopes that the holiday spirit of this week won't affect the focus of his players in a negative way.
In the same conference, he was asked to give some clues about what players he will line-up tomorrow night. He reluctantly, but in good spirits, gave four names: Miranda, Murillo, Handanovic and Medel. Then, laughing, he added Brozovic to this list after praising his game just a few minutes earlier.
Icardi, Jovetic and Ljajic will probably be the three up front, trying to take advantage of Lazio's careless defense. The Biancocelesti have conceded 17 of their total 25 goals while playing away from home. Attacking-wise, their record in away games this season is not much better, having scored just 4 goals. So Inter's usually rock-solid defense will have little to no excuses if the opponents end up scoring.
Projected Starting XIs