No one is a real fan of these international breaks, and Inter’s supporters must particularly dislike the most recent one, as it arrived just as the team was coming off its most impressive performance after what seems like an eternity. Given the near fortnight long gap between games, Luciano Spalletti will almost have to start from scratch and hope that the players can click into gear like they did against Sampdoria last time out.
The past 48 hours have also seen some major stories with the potential departure of technical co-director Walter Sabatini and rumors surrounding a potential sale of the club, although the current owners deny this possibility. It will be good to have some action on the pitch finally, so that we can all focus our energies where it matters most.
Amid all the poor results that have seen Inter drop from top of the table to fourth, the team has maintained relative stability in defense and still have the third best defensive record in Serie A (21 goals conceded), after Juventus and Napoli. Having kept a clean sheet in each of their last three games, the defense must be feeling good about extending that run.
For a team like Inter that does not score a bucket load of goals, it certainly raises the likelihood of collecting all three points as even a less than stellar display, which has unfortunately happened far too often, with an odd goal can be enough. If Inter are to retain fourth or overhaul Roma and climb up to third, it is going to need plenty more clean sheets as this team is simply not built to score three, four or five goals every game.
Spalletti is expected to go with the same 4-2-3-1 formation that played Samp off the park: Handanovic in goal, a back four consisting of Cancelo-Skriniar-Miranda-D’Ambrosio, deep lying midfielders of Gagliardini and Brozovic, an attacking trio of Candreva-Rafinha-Perisic, supporting Icardi up top.
The combination of Gagliardini and Brozovic has worked out really well in recent games and if the duo have another good outing, Spalletti might feel he has finally found a midfield combo that offers dynamism, creativity, and goals. Although we need more than just a couple of games before we can rubber stamp this judgment, the initial signs are positive.
This weekend’s opponents Hellas Verona (or Verona) are one of the more physical teams in Serie A. They have amassed 68 yellow and five red cards which puts them in the top three as far as indiscipline goes. Regardless of their relative positions in the table, Spalletti’s men should expect to be in a real contest come Saturday.
The preferred formation of Verona’s manager, Fabio Pecchia, is a 4-3-3 but he has also adopted a 4-4-2 and 4-4-1-1. While Inter’s quality should logically put them on top, until there is daylight in the scoreline, fans can expect a team like Verona to be snapping at Inter’s heels.
Gianluca Rocchi of Florence will be the referee for this game.
Inter’s form has been pretty inconsistent to say the least, more akin to a mid-table team than one chasing Champions League football. However on the positive side of things, at least the team has started to win games again and the most recent outing matched Inter’s best result of the season. Fans of the Nerazzurri would be hoping that another 5-0 win does not result in a run of wretched results. Verona are fighting for their lives, and with Benevento all but gone, it is a battle between four to five teams (Verona, Crotone, SPAL, Chievo, and may be Sassuolo) to avoid the two other relegation spots.
Any game after the international break is tough, but this has all the makings of a perfect banana skin. Verona are extremely capable of springing a surprise on Inter and their two wins in their previous three outings show that the team is capable of picking up a positive result and not totally bereft of confidence. Even a draw in this game should be viewed as a failure for Inter given how tight things are getting in the table.
Record in last six matches (most recent result right-most):
Inter have not lost to Verona in any of their previous six Serie A games, having won two-thirds of previous Serie A contests. The game away to Verona earlier in the season was decided by a 2-1 scoreline with Valero and Perisic coming up with the goals.
Any game after an international break is always a toss up, particularly in the case of a team like Inter (Inter Milan) whose performances have been so up and down. Playing at home can be a double edged sword when the team is on an inconsistent run. The biggest risk is Verona snatching an early goal and Spalletti’s men having one of their dour first halves. This will no doubt cause the San Siro faithful to quickly put the pressure back onto the home team. However, I am leaning more towards a Inter vs. Benevento like performance, with most players taking time to settle back in and a similar 2-0 scoreline.
Coming off an international break is always a toss up as one could end up with key players out with injury. Luckily, Luciano Spalletti should have a near full strength squad to choose to choose from, with the exception of Andrea Ranocchia who will be evaluated closer to matchday.
Date & Time: Saturday, March 31st, 2018; 3:00 PM CEST (9:00 AM on the U.S. East Coast)
Location: Stadio Giuesseppe Meazza; Milan, Italy
TV/Streaming: For our fans in the US, the game will be shown on beIN Sports, beIN Sports Connect, Serie A TIM TV, fuboTV, and on iGol (online). For fans in the rest of the world, please click here to find out your viewing options.
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