It may only be week 3 of the 2018-19 Serie A season but the pressure is already very much on Inter Milan.
On Saturday the Nerazzurri will face Bologna at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara and they will do so having taken just one point from their opening two league matches, after defeat to Sassuolo on opening night was followed up by last weekend’s frustrating draw against Torino.
In purely mathematical terms, another negative result here would not jeopardise anything as far as Luciano Spalletti and co. are concerned, as there would still be 35 matches to dispute and 105 points to play for. Which is a lot.
However in terms of the emotional atmosphere around the team and the scrutiny that would mount should things go badly again on Saturday, you can’t help but think that this is already a must-win match for Inter. Not least because this is the last match before the first international break of the season: can you imagine how tense a fortnight that would be for everyone concerned if we went into it still winless?
Standing in our way at the Dall’Ara is a Bologna side that is still looking for its first (league) goal of the new season, following a 1-0 defeat at home to local rivals SPAL and last Sunday’s goalless draw against Frosinone.
What’s more, the Rossoblu will be without former Inter striker Rodrigo Palacio this weekend - the man who scored their momentary equaliser in the 2-1 defeat at San Siro last season - as he has a thigh injury.
On paper, as new head coach Pippo Inzaghi said during his pre-match press conference, there is no contest between these two sides: we should win. But Inter would do well not to underestimate this team.
Bologna may not have scored yet this season but they have also only conceded one goal in their first two matches - and that was a one-in-a-million strike from Jasmin Kurtic. They are also extremely well-drilled from set pieces and determined not to start this campaign as they finished the last one: with two straight defeats at home.
Personally, I don’t feel confident heading into this one.
Kwadwo Asamoah should be fit to start after recovering from the ankle injury that forced him off during the second half against Torino, while Radja Nainggolan is finally ready to make his full debut for Inter in a competitive match - but the pressure on these players not to mess up for a third week in a row is very high. And we didn’t exactly receive comforting signs about their collective strength of character at San Siro on Sunday.
As nice as it would be to play well, all that really matters here is the result: considering the way Bologna should set up (3-5-2 with a deep defence, as if they were the away team) I don’t think it will be a particularly attractive match to watch whatever happens. We just need to win.
If we don’t... well. It’s not going to be the funnest international break we’ve ever experienced. Fingers crossed.
Date & Time: September 1, 2018, 6:00 p.m. CEST (12:00 p.m. on the U.S. East Coast)
Location: Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, Bologna
TV/Streaming: In the United States, the game will be shown both on ESPN+ and on Rai Italia America. In the United Kingdom, you can find it on Eleven Sports 2.
Click here to find out where how you can follow the match around the world.
Inter’s Matchday Squad
Goalkeepers: Handanovic, Padelli, Berni
Defenders: Vrsaljko, De Vrij, Ranocchia, Asamoah, Miranda, Dalbert, D’Ambrosio, Skriniar
Midfielders: Gagliardini, Vecino, Nainggolan, Joao Mario, Borja Valero, Brozovic
Forwards: Icardi, Lautaro Martinez, Keita Balde, Politano, Perisic, Candreva
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.