Date: Sunday, April 3 2016
Time: 2:45 ET / 20:45 CET
Venue: San Siro, Milan; Italy
After two long weeks of waiting international break is over and club football is back, which means it's time for Inter to stamp their foot on the accelerator pedal as hard as is humanly possible. The positive performance Mancini's boys put in against Roma gives us reason to believe that there is significant life in the race for third yet, but unfortunately it produce didn't the result we needed to *really* come back into contention. The only option from now on, therefore, is to win and win continuously - as Mancio himself admitted in his Saturday morning press conference, saying that "we don't have much choice" but to do so in the eight games that remain.
Given the number of games ahead of us that I would define as 'winnable but very difficult' (we still have to play away to Genoa, Lazio and Sassuolo on top of hosting Napoli at San Siro), three points is an ABSOLUTE must against Torino this weekend, although even this match has the potential to be awkward. Giampiero Ventura's side have only racked up one win in their last nine, and will be missing two of their most important players against Inter in captain Kamil Glik and fans favourite Ciro Immobile (the first is suspended, the second is injured), but it would be dangerous to underestimate the difficulty of this game off the back of what happened to them two weeks ago. The Granata were quite justifiably furious with the way they were screwed over by refereeing decisions in their derby defeat to Juventus before the international break (nothing new there...), so we are likely to encounter a team that is desperate to avenge that particular game - as well as perhaps the reverse fixture against us back in November, where they lost 1-0 to a set-piece goal from Geoffrey Kondogbia. It may be a banality, but no game is easy at this point of the season.
With that warning in mind, it's very good news indeed that Mancini should have his entire squad available for the match. Captain Mauro Icardi has spent the last fortnight recovering from the injury he sustained against Bologna and should be OK to start, Stevan Jovetic is also back to something approaching full fitness after his lengthier spell on the sidelines, and Rodrigo Palacio returns from his silly suspension that I believe hurt us very badly against Roma. Elsewhere, Kondogbia has been suffering from some niggling physical issues throughout the week but should be available himself, while the 10 (?) players who were called up to represent their national teams have all returned to Appiano Gentile injury free. Hooray! The only potential absentee at the time of writing this is Danilo D'Ambrosio, who picked up a small knee problem on Saturday morning but has nevertheless been named in the 23-man match day squad. If he were unable to shake his issues off then one of Santon or Nagatomo would step in at right-back (with Telles returning to the XI on the left of defence, in the latter case).
As far as the match itself is concerned, I expect a very similar type of game to the one that took place when Toro last came to play us at San Siro, back in January 2015. They will leave us a lot of room to play the ball around at the back and attempt to close off as many passing lines as possible inside their own half, before pouncing on any lapses of concentration we offer up to them in possession. On that occasion 15 months ago Ventura's side ended up snatching all three points with the last kick of the game, thanks to an Emiliano Moretti header, but our recent form gives us reason to be confident of avoiding such a slap in the face. It will require a lot of patience, creativity and concentration, but those are three qualities we've demonstrated quite well in recent weeks and shouldn't be lacking.
No more slip-ups are permitted from here on in. The final sprint begins in three, two...
Projected Starting XIs
Inter (4-2-3-1): Handanovic; Nagatomo, Miranda, Murillo, Telles; Brozovic, Medel; Eder, Palacio, Perisic; Icardi.
Torino (3-5-2): Padelli; Maksimovic, Jansson, Moretti; Bruno Peres, Baselli, Vives, Benassi, Molinaro; Maxi Lopez, Belotti.
How to Watch
TV: beIN Sports (U.S. & Canada), BT Sport Europe (UK), Sky Calcio 1 HD, Sky Sport 1 HD, Sky SuperCalcio HD (Italy), PremiumSport HD (Italy), RAI International
Online: Fubo TV, beIN Sports Connect (U.S. & Canada), Sky Go Italia (Italy)