When: Sunday, November 6th 12:00 ET/18:00 CET
Where: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy.
Well, er... does anyone really care about this match? On Sunday afternoon Inter will host Serie A novices Crotone at San Siro, desperate to forget the Europa League defeat to Southampton and return to winning ways ahead of the November international break, but realistically this is not going to be the main show in town in Milan tomorrow. Most of the watching world's eyes in fact will be focused on events off the pitch, as our chaotic and slightly surreal X Factor-style casting process enters the home straight, so forgive me if I don't feel outrageously pumped up for what we may or may not see on it.
One man to whom I'm sure this game matters very much is Stefano Vecchi, who will be keen to make a good impression in his home debut as first-team coach, but realistically the chances of him being appointed on a permanent basis are nigh-on zero, so the outcome of this game is unlikely to change anything. Him aside, I see little reason why anyone should deeply care about events at San Siro this weekend. If you really want to you can kid yourself on that our season still has some kind of tangible meaning to it, and that if we win we can put ourselves back in the race for a Champions League spot after Napoli and Lazio's draw on Saturday evening, but I advise you not to waste energy on such futile thoughts. The ugly truth is that our campaign is to all intents and purpose already over, Coppa Italia aside, and no kind of strong performance against Davide Nicola's men is going to change that. Therefore I expect a dull and potentially quite painful afternoon, in which we can gain next to nothing but are nonetheless at risk of yet another public humiliation, should the players adopt the kind of blasé mental approach I intend to adopt. Remember Inter 0-1 Novara back in January 2012, when Andrea Caracciolo scored the winner? We could get a reenactment of that match if we're lucky.
Basically, this match doesn't matter unless we lose, and even then it would only be of relative importance; we're probably just about good enough to avoid a relegation scrap this season. The most important piece of Inter-related news on Sunday will not originate from here, but let's hope we win anyway. Life will probably not be very pleasant in the build-up to the derby if we don't.
Stefano Vecchi is likely to stick with the 4-4-1-1 formation he used on Thursday night (and which he has always favored throughout his coaching career), but in terms of personnel there might be a few alterations. Murillo and Santon are expected to replace Ranocchia and Nagatomo in defense while Joao Mario and Brozovic, both unavailable against Southampton, should return to central midfield with Gary Medel serving the final match of his three-game suspension. The most surprising change could see Eder get the nod ahead of Banega behind Icardi up top, but we don't know for sure yet of course. What we do know for sure however is that Cristian Ansaldi will not take any part in this game, as a problem with his left knee has seen him excluded from the matchday squad on a precautionary basis, while Gabriel Barbosa and Stevan Jovetic both return after being frozen out from the trip to play Sampdoria.
Crotone meanwhile are likely to confirm the 4-3-3 system that brought them their first ever victory in Serie A last weekend, against Chievo, with ex-Nerazzurro Alex Cordaz starting in goal. Cordaz was the goalkeeper of the Inter Primavera side that won the Scudetto in the 2001-02 season under Corrado Verdelli, and made one first-team appearance against Juventus in the Coppa Italia, so it'll be a homecoming of sorts for him.
Probable Starting XIs
Inter (4-4-1-1): Handanovic; D'Ambrosio, Miranda, Murillo, Santon; Candreva, Joao Mario, Brozovic, Perisic; Eder; Icardi
Crotone (4-3-3): Cordaz; Rosi, Claiton, Ferrari, Mesbah; Barberis, Capezzi, Rohden; Tonev, Falcinelli, Trotta.
How to Watch
TV: Sky Sport 1 HD, Sky SuperCalcio HD, Sky Calcio 1 HD, PremiumSport 2 HD (Italy); beIN SPORTS USA, RAI International (USA)