When: Sunday, February 26th, 2:45pm ET/8:45pm CET
Where: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy
It would be nigh-on impossible to overstate just how important a match Inter vs Roma is on Sunday evening. After a relatively gentle start to 2017 (Juventus aside) in which Stefano Pioli's side have brought themselves right back into contention for UEFA Champions League qualification, this is where things get deadly serious for the Nerazzurri as their quest to secure a top three spot enters a decisive period.
Essentially the equation is as follows: win and we can keep dreaming, fail to win and we can't. Beating Roma will be a lot easier said than done given the superb moment of form that Luciano Spalletti's team are in - like us, they have also won 9 of their last 10 Serie A games - but if we really are still aiming to finish third then we simply have no other choice. Napoli's defeat to Atalanta on Saturday evening presents us with a golden opportunity to close the gap between us and Maurizio Sarri's men to three points - which was where we briefly stood before our loss at the Juventus Stadium - and next week they will play Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in a match that guarantees somebody will lose points, so this is still doable for us if we keep our foot on the accelerator. But one slip and it could be all over, despite the huge strides we've taken since the start of December, because this is a season where hardly any of the middle to lower-ranked teams are taking points off the top sides and therefore every point lost becomes hugely damaging.
It's going to be hard to win against one of Europe's most in-form teams, but unfortunately we've got no alternative. Nobody has taken as much as a point off us in the league at home since Cagliari back in October, Roma have lost five away games so far this season, Mauro Icardi will be back up front after his two-match ban and President Zhang will be watching on from the stands; all of these things tell me that we can do something special this weekend, so let's be positive and believe that this is the night Inter will definitively announce their return to the top table of Italian football. FORZA RAGAZZI!
Neither team is likely to spring any surprises with their starting XIs on Sunday night. Inter will be missing Miranda through suspension but have everybody else at their disposal for the big match at San Siro, with Mauro Icardi and Geoffrey Kondogbia returning from suspension and Marcelo Brozovic having recovered from the injury he sustained against Juventus at the beginning of the month. Pioli needs to choose whether he would like Yuto Nagatomo or Cristian Ansaldi to play on the left-hand side of defence, which will most likely swap between three and four men throughout the game, but other than that his team is easier to predict than it was for the Derby d'Italia.
Roma meanwhile will welcome all their first-choice players back into the starting XI after Luciano Spalletti rested eight of them against Villarreal on Thursday, which means Serie A capocannoniere Edin Dzeko will play up front alongside former Inter transfer target Mohamed Salah and former Inter transfer target Radja Nainggolan. Aside from the extremely unfortunate Alessandro Florenzi, who has ruptured the same cruciate knee ligament twice in the last six months, nobody is unavailable for the Giallorossi after Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas - who Inter are very interested in signing this summer - both shook off late injury concerns to be named in the matchday squad.
Both teams are expected to line up in what you could probably refer to as a 3-4-2-1 formation, but really those are just numbers for the sake of it, so let's not get too caught up in them.
Probable Starting XIs
Inter (3-4-2-1): Handanovic; D'Ambrosio, Medel, Murillo; Candreva, Gagliardini, Kondogbia, Ansaldi; Joao Mario, Perisic; Icardi.
Roma (3-4-2-1): Szczesny; Rudiger, Fazio, Manolas; Emerson, De Rossi, Strootman, Bruno Peres; Nainggolan, Salah; Dzeko.
How to Watch
TV: Sky Sport 1 HD, Sky SuperCalcio HD, Sky Calcio 1 HD & PremiumSport HD (Italy); BT Sport 1 HD (UK); 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)