It may only be Week Two of the 2017-18 Serie A season but Inter have already reached their first crossroads of the campaign.
On Saturday evening (20:45 CET), the Nerazzurri take on Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in a match that will tell us a great deal about both clubs’ credentials in this year’s race for Champions League qualification.
Both, in their own way, impressed on the opening weekend of the season, ensuring that they arrived at this ‘big match’ with three points already in the bag. Inter dispatched Fiorentina with a convincing and creative performance (for the most part) at San Siro, while the Giallorossi produced a gutsy, gritty display in Bergamo against Atalanta to secure victory on Eusebio Di Francesco’s debut.
Neither, however, can afford to contemplate anything other than victory this weekend.
* Insert ominous background music *
Really though, this is a very important match indeed for us and there would be little point in denying it. Of course, nothing will be decided once and for all during the next 90 minutes of football - winning doesn’t guarantee us a successful season, just as losing doesn’t condemn us to nine months of pain and anguish - but that doesn’t render it meaningless by any stretch of the imagination.
On the contrary, Roma-Inter is a golden opportunity for one of these two teams to send a defiant message about the season they intend to have - a message not just to their rivals, but to themselves as well.
If Inter were to take on one of their direct competitors for a top four finish and beat them on their own patch, with a performance that combines technical, tactical and mental fortitude, the repercussions could be huge.
Firstly, it would give everybody within our squad and coaching staff an enormous shot in the arm for the first few months of the season, proving to them that they are capable of achieving great things this year should they stick together and all pull in the same direction.
Secondly, it would revive some of the external enthusiasm which has dissipated since Sunday’s victory over Fiorentina, as a result of the club’s less than convincing movements in the transfer market of late, which - barring enormous surprises between now and Thursday evening - is set to end with a scarcely believable whimper.
Thirdly, it would heighten the atmosphere of unease and scepticism that currently surrounds Roma, who have rung wholesale changes during the course of this summer between first-team squad and coaching staff, and, in the opinion of many, have lost considerable ground to their rivals at the top of the division.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it would spare us two weeks of melodramatic post-mortems, explaining how everybody at Inter from cleaning lady to club President is a clueless nincompoop that has ruined our chances of ever returning to past glories, before we return to Serie A action in a fortnight’s time.
It is for that last reason, more than any other, that I implore our boys to do themselves justice this weekend and bring home the positive result that we know they are capable of obtaining.
For the league table, for the psychological bearing it could have both on us and on them, but most of all for our own sanity over the course of the next two weeks.
Location: Stadio Olimpico, Rome,
Time: 8:45 p.m. CEST (2:45 p.m. on the U.S. East Coast)
TV/Streaming: In the United States, the game is available on fuboTV and beinSPORTS Connect, while in the UK it will be shown on BT Sport 3 HD. Click here to find out where you can watch the match everywhere else in the world.
Inter Milan squad
Goalkeepers: Handanovic, Padelli, Berni.
Defenders: Cancelo, Ranocchia, Ansaldi, Miranda, Dalbert, D’Ambrosio, Skriniar, Nagatomo, Vanheusden.
Midfielders: Gagliardini, Joao Mario, Vecino, Borja Valero, Brozovic.
Forwards: Jovetic, Icardi, Eder, Perisic, Candreva, Barbosa, Pinamonti.
Match Thread Rules
There are only three rules: don’t be hateful, don’t disrespect anyone else’s opinion and enjoy the game!
Want to contribute? Sign up for an SB Nation account and join the conversation on Serpents of Madonnina. Whether it is match coverage and analysis, breaking news, mercato or you just want to be immersed in all things Inter, we have it right here.