When: Sunday, April 9th, 9:00am ET/3:00pm CET
Where: Stadio Ezio Scida, Crotone, Italy
After Monday's defeat to Sampdoria there is no chance of Inter qualifying for next season's Champions League. Boo. So with that in mind, Crotone-Inter probably isn't getting many people excited - and it's not getting me excited for sure. It'll probably be boring and/or infuriating, and we can all do without that kind of match ruining our Sundays.
But this match is very important. It might not feel like it but Sunday's match, and the seven that follow it, could have just as huge an impact on next season as they could have on this season, because if we don't win it our chances of finishing the campaign sixth will increase. And I cannot stress this enough: finishing sixth, and having to go through the (two) Europa League preliminary rounds that would follow, would be an absolute disaster for all concerned. It would force us to start pre-season training early and cancel half of our money-spinning friendlies scheduled for July, and so on and so forth, so it's an eventuality we really must avoid. Even if it doesn't get people's hearts racing it's fundamental we avoid that logistical nightmare, because every team that does the Europa League preliminaries endures a horrific season (see Sassuolo this season and Sampdoria last season for a start). 5th or 7th, I don't really care: just not 6th. Please, not 6th.
Crotone head into this match off their first ever away win in Serie A, but last weekend's 2-1 success over Chievo really shouldn't be anything to concern us if we turn up properly. They are quite simply unequipped to compete at this level and are lucky to have as many as 17 points on the board after 30 games, and any team that loses points to them between now and the end of the season should probably consider shutting down their club out of embarrassment. Roberto Gagliardini's absence through injury will be a problem, yes, but we could hardly pick a better opponent for a match in which we're missing our best player, so there are no excuses if we don't win this. None whatsoever.
N o n e.
Other than Gagliardini nobody is unavailable for Stefano Pioli heading into this game. Joao Mario is likely to replace the Italian in central midfield, with Marcelo Brozovic dropping back to the substitutes' bench after his horrendous display on Monday night. Gary Medel is a booking away from missing next Saturday's Milan derby, so expect him to start on the bench with Jeison Murillo coming in at centre-back; other than that the team should remain unchanged. In Crotone's line-up there should be room for three players who came through Inter's youth academy: goalkeeper Alex Cordaz, midfielder Lorenzo Crisetig and striker Diego Falcinelli.
Probable Starting XIs
Crotone (4-4-2): Cordaz; Rosi, Ceccherini, Ferrari, Martella; Rohden, Crisetig, Capezzi, Stoian; Falcinelli, Trotta.
Inter: (4-2-3-1): Handanovic; D'Ambrosio, Miranda, Murillo, Ansaldi; Joao Mario, Kondogbia; Candreva, Banega, Perisic; Icardi.
How to Watch
TV: Sky Sport 1 HD, Sky Calcio 1 HD, Sky Sport Mix HD & PremiumSport HD (Italy).
Online: Sky Go Italia & Premium Play (Italy); beIN SPORTS CONNECT (USA)
(For other countries' streaming and broadcasting options see here)