With the first international break of the 2018-19 season now behind us it’s time to dive back into the world of club football, which for Inter Milan means that things are about to get very serious and very hectic.
| #Spalletti: "What we're about to play in is what we've been preparing for up to this point. It's what we were looking for and spent an entire season suffering for. We have the squad size to get through these quick fixture turnarounds."#InterParma pic.twitter.com/NRHoomxclX— Inter (@Inter_en) September 14, 2018
The Nerazzurri did not start their Serie A campaign in the manner that supporters had expected, mustering just four points in their opening three league matches, but there is no time for Luciano Spalletti and co. to dwell on the past as they are about to begin a tricky run of seven fixtures in 23 days.
Of those seven fixtures, the one that most are talking about at the moment is Tuesday evening’s match at home to Tottenham, as it will officially sanction Inter’s return to the UEFA Champions League after a six-year absence - but before that prestigious occasion arrives, the players must ensure that they do not lose further ground in Serie A by taking care of business against Parma at San Siro.
On paper there is little to suggest that Roberto D’Aversa’s side are capable of causing an upset this weekend - this is their first Serie A campaign in four seasons and they have taken just one point from their opening three games - but the combative performance they put in against Juventus just before the international break, complete with a goal for summer signing Gervinho on his home debut, should serve as a reminder that this match will not be a cakewalk.
If Inter aren’t fully focused on the task at hand here then we could be in for a nasty surprise, so let’s hope they aren’t thinking about the Tottenham match already. It is precisely the kind of thing that I would pessimistically expect this team to do, though, so I am somewhat wary of what might happen tomorrow.
As far as team news is concerned, everything points towards Spalletti continuing with the 4-2-3-1 system following the win over Bologna two weeks ago. Quite who will be starting up front, however, is a little less clear.
Mauro Icardi appears to have shaken off whatever issue forced him to sit out the game at the Dall’Ara and has been included in the match-day squad, but there is a chance that he will be protected ahead of the Spurs game, so Keita Balde could well lead the line again.
That aside, the biggest question marks are probably in defence. Reports on Friday have suggested that Spalletti may prefer Joao Miranda ahead of Stefan de Vrij at centre-back, as he begins to rotate his squad, while on the right-hand side Sime Vrsaljko’s conditions will also need to be verified after he was forced off during the first half of Croatia’s match against Spain on Tuesday.
Regardless of who gets picked, though, Inter are more than good enough to pick up all three points here. And they need to pick up all three points here, because they’ve already slipped up twice this season.
If everyone is concentrated and we speed up our possession in the opponent’s half - something the pitch at San Siro should help us with, as it will be in a much better condition than Bologna’s pitch was a fortnight ago - then we shouldn’t have too much of a scare here. Football can be weird, though, so personally I’m taking nothing for granted.
Date & Time: September 14, 2018, 3:00 p.m. CEST (9:00 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast)
Location: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan
TV/Streaming: If you live in the United States you can follow the game on ESPN+, while Italian viewers will find it on Sky Sport Serie A.
Unfortunately the match won’t be available for those in the United Kingdom, though, due to the blackout rule which bans live football coverage on Saturday afternoons.
Click here to find out where you can watch the match in other countries 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, Keita Balde, Politano, Perisic, Candreva
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