When: Sunday, February 12th 9:45am ET/3:00pm CET
Where: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy.
Let's not get obsessed with Juventus. Please, let's not get obsessed with Juventus. Last weekend's defeat in the Derby d'Italia left a very bitter taste in every Interista's mouth for many, many reasons, but after days of poisonous public arguments and online conspiracy theorising it really is time to move on and concentrate on the rest of our season, which by no means expired on Sunday night. With all the controversy that has engulfed the fan-base this week it would be easy to forget that we actually put in a fairly good performance at the Gobbi Stadium, and still have a tiny chance of challenging Napoli and Roma for a Champions League place if we can keep our heads and return immediately to winning ways.
For that reason it's pivotal that we focus properly on this match against Empoli, who should ostensibly pose us very few problems but are nonetheless a professional football team and will punish us if we have a sloppy approach. Regardless of the numerous absences we are going have to contend with this weekend, the risk of getting distracted by everything that's happened since Sunday and receiving a nasty surprise is very high, so let's hope we've stopped being the team we were from 2010-16 and can avoid underestimating our opponents. Our only chance of snatching third place is to run at breakneck speed from now until the end of May and hope against hope that those above us slow down with the imminent return of the European competitions, so any points lost in these kinds of matches are going to be fatal. We've made some great progress since the start of December but for the season to be a successful one we cannot afford to let the last few days destabilise the good vibes Pioli has created with us - so please, let's not get obsessed with Juventus.
As far as tomorrow's starting XI is concerned, Pioli has a couple of tricky decisions to make with Mauro Icardi, Ivan Perisic (suspended), Marcelo Brozovic and Ever Banega (injured) all unavailable for the game. At the moment it would appear that Eder and Rodrigo Palacio are in pole position to replace the former two, but there's always a small chance that Gabriel Barbosa might be given a first league start given the relatively modest nature of our opponents, which would certainly be the most popular choice amongst the Inter fans. Geoffrey Kondogbia should step in to partner Roberto Gagliardini in midfield while Cristian Ansaldi might return to the line-up in defence alongside Gary Medel and Miranda, as we are probably going to revert to a back four after last Sunday's changes.
Empoli also have big injury problems heading into this match with three of their first-choice back four all missing out through injury, but that means Inter loanee Federico Dimarco will be playing at left-back and has the chance to impress his parent club. Even with all the goals that will be missing from our midfield and attack on Sunday, this team should not be capable of causing us huge problems. Should not.
Probable Starting XIs
Inter (4-2-3-1): Handanovic; D'Ambrosio, Medel, Miranda, Ansaldi; Gagliardini, Kondogbia; Candreva, Joao Mario, Eder; Palacio.
Empoli (4-3-1-2): Skorupski; Laurini, Veseli, Cosic, Dimarco; Krunic, Diousse, Croce; El Kaddouri; Pucciarelli, Maccarone.
How to Watch
TV: Sky Calcio 1 HD & PremiumSport 2 HD (Italy); BT Sport 2 HD (UK); beINSPORTS USA & \RAI International (USA)
Online: SKY Go Italia & Premium Play (Italy); BT Sport Live Streaming (UK); beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA)
(For other countries' streaming and broadcasting options see here)