Date: Sunday, September 27, 2015
Time: 2:45pm ET/ 20:45 CET
Venue: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza; Milan, Italy
Please raise your hand if, before the start of the season, you predicted that the Nerazzurri would have won their first 5 matches. You did? Well, you are lying.
So, what are Inter's early success secrets? A rock solid defense with just one goal conceded in 5 matches, and winning mentality. The exact same things that Mancini's - and Mazzari's - squad lacked last year. Even if this crazy good start was unexpected, surely it hasn't been accidental. It's the result of smart and meticulous moves in the summer Calciomercato, not only in terms of quality of the players acquired, but also regarding their experience, their cost and their hunger to win and be relevant. These guys looks always on the same page when it matters most and that's how they managed to take the most out of every single match they played this season.
The road to greatness is still long and winding though, especially if we take a closer look to the schedule so far. The best teams Inter faced are Milan and Chievo, which are good and well coached squads, but without real hopes of chasing the Scudetto this year. Honestly, I think the Nerazzurri don't have them too, but they could benefit of the huge confidence boost this 5 wins gave to them to be plausible title contender, in a season that started with slightly different goals in mind.
This Sunday's enemy will be Fiorentina, which currently sit in 2nd place. The Viola are, like Inter, a less than exciting team to watch right now, but they somehow found a way to be successful and to keep up with the Nerazzurri in this first 5 matches. Paulo Sousa's team main strength is the ability of its men to adapt to many different formations, making it really difficult for the opposing team's coach to prepare the match against them. Statistically, they are very similar to Inter, especially in the ball possession (Inter 57.8% - 59.6% Fiorentina) and pass success rate (I 84.5% - 87% F) departments, but they make 5 shots per game less than Inter and that could be a great advantage for the Nerazzurri since they already are one of the best teams in terms of shots per game conceded.
Mancini told the media in Saturday's pre-game press conference that Juan Jesus is finally ready to play, but it's still uncertain if he will start in place of Telles, who has been really positive in the last two games. Murillo, on the other hand, won't be available once again and this will give Medel another chance to prove his talent as center-back, a role that seems to be perfect for his skills. Jovetic didn't start last Wednesday against Hellas Verona, but he will pair up with Icardi tomorrow night from the very beginning, while Perisic and Ljajic will fight for a spot in the starting XI as trequartista. Guarin, Melo and Kondo will control the midfield, as always.
The first encounter between these two teams last season didn't go well for the Nerazzurri. Almost exactly one year ago the Viola crushed them with a loud 3 - 0 win, which was the beginning of the downfall that resulted with Mazzarri's layoff. It's difficult to believe that at this moment even such an harsh defeat could be a crushing blow for Inter, and Mancini too; in fact it could be a hard, but needed, reality check that reminds them how much they still need to do to deserve the spot they currently occupy.
Honestly, I don't know if it will be an exciting match. Both teams have been labelled as ugly, even by their supporters, but the odds at stake this time are really high and this could bring the best out of both squads, which surely don't lack talent.
Inter - Melo, Icardi, Jovetic
Fiorentina - Borja Valero, Rossi, Blaszczykowsky
Projected Starting XIs