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Empoli vs. Inter Milan match preview: Never look back

The winter break is over and our Nerazzurri are in search of a win against Empoli to start the year on a positive note and to help them keep the lead in the Serie A.

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Match Facts

Date: Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

Time: 12:00 am ET/ 18:00 CET

Venue: Stadio Carlo Castellani; Empoli, Italy

The end and the beginning are always two critical moments

This were Mancini's words ahead of this Wednesday match against Empoli. He is right, and after his team's disappointing performance in their last game before the end of the year against Lazio he wants them to bounce back right away to maintain the Serie A leadership and regain some of the confidence that they may have lost because of the defeat.The short trip to Qatar during this winter break and the friendly against PSG gave Mancio the chance to spend more time with his men and to work even harder to fix all the little things that went wrong against the Biancocelesti.

It won't be an easy challenge, because Inter's rival this week are in a very good form lately, having won 4 consecutive league matches and finding themselves in 8th position on the table, just nine points behind the Nerazzurri. After a very exciting season last year under Sarri, everyone believed that this team wouldn't been able to replicate the good things showed last season, but they are proving them wrong so far and young manager Giampaolo needs to be given credit for his work at Empoli.

With Melo out for this match and the following two after being suspended for his careless and dangerous tackle on Lucas Biglia, Medel will have to take on defensive duties in midfield and he will have a particularly hard task this Wednesday. In fact, Riccardo Saponara has been one of the most outstanding players this season scoring five goals already and dishing out 5 assists too, making him the joint-top assist maker of the season along with Riccardo Meggiorini. The former Milan player is one of the key for Empoli's success, but the 36-year-old Massimo Maccarone has been no less than incredible so far too with seven goals scored.

The strong point of this Empoli team has been the consistency with the formation and with the personnel sent on the pitch every week. Giampaolo loves to field a 4-3-3 every time he can and Mancini should take advantage of the predictability of his opponents to prepare an effective game plan to get them out of their comfort zone and use their weak spots to beat them.

As always Mancio was asked to reveal which players will start the match. Handanovic - who was with him during the press conference - Miranda Murillo and Medel were the first 4 names and he added a fifth one other than the usual suspects: Adem Ljajic. It doesn't help us guessing which formation will he field, but at least let us know that he trusts the Serbian and considers him one of the key elements of the team.

Projected Starting XIs: