Just about everyone knows what’s at stake Sunday afternoon when Inter Milan steps foot on to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Win and the dreams of playing in the Champions League are fulfilled.
Lose and it’s not a complete downer, but the Europa League isn’t exactly what we had in mind when the season started.
Currently, Lazio sits three points ahead of Inter in fourth place — the final spot for Serie A in the Champions League.
However, thanks to events, if the Nerazzurri defeat Lazio Sunday, they will end the season in a tie on points, but because the first match at the San Siro was a draw, Inter would have the head-to-head advantage by winning the final game.
”Lazio have the advantage in that two out of three results suit them while our objective is within our reach so I’m convinced that we can make the Champions League,” said Inter Milan head manager Luciano Spalletti, in the final news conference leading up to the game. “I don’t know who deserves fourth more out of us and Lazio, they’re three points ahead with a game left. I say that my players deserve this opportunity, we’ll play for it in an open fashion.”
We have already examined just how Inter Milan got in its current situation.
In order for Inter to find success, its offense will have to find rhythm and find it quickly. Playing in front of a hostile crowd at the Olimpico means the connections between Ivan Perisic, Mauro Icardi and Antonio Candreva have to be on the mark.
With Rafinha in midfield, perhaps that could be a difference-maker that wasn’t there in the last outing. On a side note, reports today are that future Inter signee and current Lazio defender Stefan De Vrij will in fact start tomorrow against his future club.
On defense, Lazio has capocannoniere leader Ciro Immobile. However, Icardi is just one goal back of Immobile which could set up a new storyline if Icardi manages to tie or even surpass Immobile in the final game of the season.
Regardless, Inter’s defensive line will have to work like a wall and not get trapped on the backfoot during counterattacks — where Lazio has been dangerous all season long.
“Tomorrow, Inter must be aggressive but without losing balance because Lazio are brilliant at playing directly with how they win the ball back and with their pace,” Spalletti said. “We’ll have to be very aware of this kind of situation.”
In their last six at home, Lazio have won three, lost one and drawn two while on the road, Inter has the same record. In their 164 meetings since 1929, Inter has won 66 matches to Lazio’s 40 with the teams drawing 58 times. But, you can throw all of that out the window with so much at stake on Sunday.
What do you think? Post your comments below!
Date & Time: May 20, 2018, 8:45 p.m. CEST (2:45 p.m. on the U.S. East Coast)
Location: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
TV/Streaming: In the United States, the game will be shown on beIN Sports Connect on Fubo TV and Sling TV as well as on Rai Italia America. In the United Kingdom, you can watch the game on BT Sport Live and BT Sport 1.
Click here to see where you can watch the game around the world.
Inter’s Matchday Squad
Goalkeepers: Handanovic, Padelli, Berni
Defenders: Lisandro Lopez, Joao Cancelo, Ranocchia, Santon, Miranda, Dalbert, D’Ambrosio, Skriniar
Midfielders: Gagliardini, Rafinha, Vecino, Borja Valero, Brozovic
Forwards: Icardi, Karamoh, Eder, Perisic, Candreva, 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’s match coverage and analysis, breaking news, mercato or you just want to be immersed in all things Inter, we have it right here.