While most Italian football fans and pundits are rightfully focusing on Napoli and Juventus’ perfect starts to the season, Inter have found themselves in third place after the club’s opening six Serie A matches, trailing the pacesetters by just two points. No, the performances haven’t been all that great as of late, but 16 out of a possible 18 points to begin a campaign is always encouraging.
On Sunday, Inter will have the opportunity to extend their early-season point total to 19 out of 21. Make no mistake about it, Benevento are the worst team in Serie A, and anything less than a victory would be completely unacceptable.
Sunday’s hosts are off to a dreadful start in their first-ever season in Italy’s top flight. Benevento have yet to earn a Serie A point, and have scored just one goal in all competitions since securing promotion in June. In addition to their six defeats in six league matches and -15 goal differential, Benevento were also thrashed 4-0 at home against Serie B side Perugia in the third round of the Coppa Italia. While football can be a crazy game at times (this is Inter after all), and it’s dangerous to overlook any opponent, the Nerazzurri will be extremely strong favorites on Sunday. If Benevento’s recent 6-0 and 4-0 losses to Napoli and AS Roma are any indication, this match could (and frankly, should) be over by halftime.
With AC Milan hosting Roma in Sunday’s early evening clash, Inter have a golden opportunity to further distance themselves from one (or both) of the club’s traditional top-four rivals. An Inter win, coupled with a draw at the San Siro, would see the Nerazzurri lead Milan and Roma by six points — a nice early-season cushion.
There’s so much on the line for Inter this season, so I expect Luciano Spalletti to once-again field a strong XI, but it will be interesting to see if the Italian manager uses his three substitutes to give minutes to several fringe players. Yann Karamoh had an excellent substitute appearance last weekend against Genoa; will Spalletti give the 19-year-old French winger another chance to shine? Davide Santon has now fully recovered from his injury, so Sunday’s match may offer Spalletti an opportunity to test the fullback’s fitness, and see if he should be included in Inter’s plans for the season. If the match is decided early, I would also love to see Spalletti swap Mauro Icardi for Andrea Pinamonti. Inter’s captain has played all but 6 minutes of the campaign, so it would be nice to give Icardi a bit of a breather before the extended international break.
Regardless of what Spalletti chooses to do, anything short of a dominant Inter victory would be a massive disappointment. Here’s hoping we aren’t fuming after the result.
Date and Time: Sunday, October 1, 2017, 3:00 p.m. CEST (9:00 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast)
Location: Stadio Ciro Vigorito, Benevento, Italy
TV/Streaming: In the United States, the game is available on beIN Sports 3, with streaming through beIN Sports Connect and fuboTV. In the UK, the match will be shown on BT Sport 3 with streaming through BT Sport Live. Click here to find out where you can watch the match everywhere else in the world.
Inter Milan Squad
Goalkeepers: Handanovic, Padelli, Berni.
Defenders: Miranda, Dalbert, D’Ambrosio, Skriniar, Nagatomo, Ranocchia, Santon,
Midfielders: Gagliardini, Joao Mario, Vecino, Borja Valero, Brozovic.
Forwards: Icardi, Eder, Perisic, Candreva, Karamoh, Pinamonti.
Potential Starting XI:
(4-2-3-1): Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Skriniar, Miranda, Dalbert; Vecino, Borja Valero; Candreva, Joao Mario, Perisic; Icardi.
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