When: Sunday, December 11th 2:45pm ET/ 8:45pm CET
Where: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy.
So after Thursday's win against Sparta Prague brought Inter's truly appalling Europa League adventure to a premature end, Stefano Pioli's boys now have just two competitions to focus on for the remainder of the season. Leaving aside the horrific humiliation that being eliminated from a mediocre group as the bottom team brings with it, I'm inclined to think that this could turn out to be a good thing for both the team, who do not have the physical fitness at the moment to play competitively more than once a week and will have more time to assimilate Pioli's ideas during the week, and us Interisti, who will only have one excruciating 90 minutes of pain to suffer through per week between now and May.
While the Coppa Italia does not appear on our radar until the new year, where we will host Bologna in the last 16, on Sunday evening Inter will dive straight back into Serie A action as Ivan Juric's Genoa arrive at San Siro. It's the first of three games that we have before the league pauses for its two-week break over Christmas, from which we will unfortunately need three wins if any hopes of reaching the table's European spots are to be taken into 2017, so the margin for error is pretty much nonexistent. (I say this like I myself believe that this season still means something to us, when in fact it's been over for at least a month if you ask me). Genoa were defeated 1-0 by an Adem Ljajic free-kick the last time they came to play us in Milan, and have not exactly sparkled away from home so far in this campaign, so we have every chance of extending our winning streak at San Siro (in all competitions) to six matches, but what this team is capable of doing and what it actually is doing have proved to be two diametrically opposed things since August. We'll need a concentrated, determined and most of all organized team performance to bring the points home in this one - surely that's not too much to ask for, is it? Is it?
As far as absentees for this game are concerned, there are three players Stefano Pioli will be unable to call upon on Sunday evening (in addition to Gary Medel, who is out of action until January): Davide Santon, who hasn't recovered from the injury he sustained to his left thigh a couple of weeks ago, Cristian Ansaldi, who picked up his fifth booking of the season against Napoli and is thus suspended against his former club, and Assane Gnoukouri, who has a niggling ankle problem that forced him to miss the Sparta Prague game in midweek. Everyone else is fit and available, although Andrea Ranocchia is unlikely to start after he picked up a knock during training on Friday. In terms of the formation, some news outlets are suggesting that the 3-4-3 we tried out on Thursday will be used again, whereas others believe we'll return to the more standard 4-2-3-1 we've become used to of late - who knows. Certainly not me. One thing that is certain though is that a lot of our big names will return to the line-up after being rested in the Europa League.
The big question hanging over Genoa on the eve of the match is whether former Inter player Diego Laxalt will recover in time to make the starting XI, who would be an important miss for the Rossoblu if he was not able to take to the field. Ezequiel Munoz should be fit meanwhile after some problems at the start of the week, while Nikola Ninkovic should get the nod ahead of Lucas Ocampos to play alongside Giovanni Simeone, son of Diego, otherwise known as 'Cholito'.
Probable Starting XIs
Inter (3-4-3): Handanovic; D'Ambrosio, Miranda, Murillo; Biabiany, Brozovic, Joao Mario, Nagatomo; Candreva, Icardi, Perisic
Genoa (3-4-2-1): Perin; Izzo, Burdisso, Munoz; Lazovic, Rincon, Veloso, Edenilson; Rigoni, Ninkovic; Simeone.
How to Watch:
TV: Sky Sport 1 HD, Sky SuperCalcio HD, Sky Calcio 1 HD & Premium Sport HD (Italy); BT Sport 3 HD (UK); Rai International (USA)
(For other countries' streaming and broadcasting options see here)