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Inter Milan vs. Cesena: Preview, official lineups, and live match thread

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Inter and Cesena will face off in this week's Sunday night match and both teams desperately need a win, though for quite different reasons.

Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

Match Facts:

Date: Sunday, March 15, 2015

Venue: Stadio San Siro; Milan, Italy

Time: 3:45pm ET / 20:45 CET

At least for the Fiorentina draw we could say that we were tired and at least we played well. And against Napoli we all appreciated the team effort in the latest minutes to come back and tie a match that looked already lost. However, in Thursday's Europa League match against Wolfsburg there was nothing good to see. Mancini definitely made some tactical mistakes, including lining up Carrizo as starting keeper and then switching to a 3-men defense which completely confusing his players. But what lacked most was the team effort and the focus that is so important  in fixtures of this magnitude for a side like ours.

This week Inter will have a much easier challenge than the previous three since Cesena is 19th in the league. If we take a look at the history between the two sides, the odds are all in our favor: Inter and Cesena have faced each other 25 times in the Serie A and Cesena has won only one of those meetings. The other 24 matches have resulted in 17 losses and 7 draws for Cesena. The Nerazzurri have won the last 7 games against Cesena, but our current form could make Cesena believe they can take some points off Inter if they play their cards right.

That isn't to say that Inter should be overconfident by any means. As mentioned earlier, our form has been anything but consistent; Inter will have to remain focused to win even against an opponent like Cesena. This Sunday I hope Mancini will prepare the match mentally rather than tactically, because his style of play is already clear. The players look like they have absorbed it well but they are not confident and focused enough to express their full potential as a squad.

Podolski is one of those players that has failed to impress so far. That may be due to the fact that he would like to play more as a wing rather than striker, or it may be because he played very few minutes before moving here. I don't know, but he needs to step his game up and show how high his value is, since the club has bet a lot on him (not in terms of money, luckily).

The most important thing Inter will have to accomplish against Cesena is finishing the game with a clean sheet. Yes, the 3 points are always the main target every week, but given how our defense (and Carrizo, and Handanovic against Fiorentina) has played lately, the possibility to rely on them would be a giant step forward. We must also keep in mind that a good defense often leads to a good offense, capable of playing quick and threatening counter attacks. Also we will need a strong defensive performance this Thursday against Wolfsburg if Inter are to have any chance to advance to the next Europa League round.

There are two main statistics that can buoy our hopes for a positive result in this match: Cesena has conceded at least one goal in every away game they have played this season and they only won one of them (against Parma, 20th in the Serie A). The other 11 have resulted in 2 draws and 9 losses.

Other numbers regarding the match can be found here:

Mancini is expected to give some rest to at least some of the usual starters, so it won't be much of a surprise if we see Dodò sprinting (and never defending) on the left wing and Kuzmanovic starting in the defensive midfield. If he does start, hopefully Kuz can spread a bit of his calmness and his passing accuracy to his teammates. Juan Jesus won't be a part of the match since he is disqualified after taking a yellow card against Napoli last week. My only hope is that whoever is selected to represent the team this Sunday will be ready and willing, but most of all hungry for the victory.

Projected Starting XIs

Inter

Handanovic

D'Ambrosio - Andreolli - Ranocchia - Dodò

Guarin - Kuzmanovic- Brozovic

Kovacic

Icardi - Podolski

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Djuric

Defrel - Brienza

Pulzetti - Mudingayi - Giorgi

Magnusson - Krajnc - Perico - Capelli

Leali

Cesena

Official Lineups

Inter(4-3-1-2)

Handanovic; D'Ambrosio, Ranocchia, Andreolli, Dodò; Guarin, Medel, Kuzmanovic; Shaqiri; Palacio, Icardi.

Bench: Carrizo, Berni, Felipe, Campagnaro, Santon, Brozovic, Obi, Hernanes, Kovacic, Podolski, Puscas.

Coach: Mancini.

Cesena(4-3-1-2)

Leali; Perico, Krajnc, Capelli, Magnusson; Giorgi, Mudingayi, De Feudis; Carbonero; Defrel, Djuric.

Bench: Agliardi, Bressan, Volta, Nica, Pulzetti, Cascione, Gaiola, Moncini, Brienza, Rodriguez, Succi.

Coach: Di Carlo.