Wednesday’s Champions League match against Real Madrid showcased a painfully inadequate and lifeless Inter Milan team, but the first chance for rebound comes on Saturday with a trip to the Mapei Stadium to meet Sassuolo. However, it will be no easy task for Antonio Conte’s squad to overcome what has been the club’s “bogey team” for the better part of a decade now.
Roberto De Zerbi’s Sassuolo have enjoyed a flying start to the season, including last weekend’s 2-0 win over Hellas Verona. The Neroverdi currently occupy second place in the table and are one of three teams without a loss in Serie A this season, alongside Juventus and Milan. Their attacking brand of football has yielded them 20 league goals this season, with only nine making it into Andrea Consigli’s net. They also possess an exciting squad, boasting the likes of Domenico Berardi, Francesco Caputo, Manuel Locatelli, Filip Đuricic, and Jeremie Boga. Sassuolo are confident and talented, a dangerous combination for any opposition to cope with.
To say Inter’s match at home against Real Madrid on Wednesday was toothless would be generous. From the early penalty, to Arturo Vidal’s boneheaded red card, to everything in between, there were no moments for Inter to take any kind of silver lining out of the match. The horrendous showing has also led some pundits and fans to question the presence of Antonio Conte at Inter, though the club’s executives have shown no indication that they are ready to part ways with the manager. However, a continuation of the run of bad results that has encompassed virtually the entire season so far should surely cause more questions to rise.
The biggest troubling stat for Inter going into Saturday’s match is that since the first three matches against Sassuolo after their historic first promotion to Serie A in 2013, which featured two 7-0 wins and a 1-0 win, Inter have won two, lost seven, and drawn two of the last 11 matches. The latest win came last season in this exact fixture, when Inter held on late to win 4-3 at the Mapei. Inter will have to hope that last season’s away win has marked a change in fortune in this matchup.
3-4 (A) - 20/10/2019
3-3 (H) - 24/6/2020
Predicted Starting XIs
SASSUOLO (4-2-3-1): Consigli; Ayhan, Chiriches, Ferrari, Rogerio; Locatelli, Lopez; Berardi, Đuricic, Boga; Raspadori
INTER (3-4-1-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Darmian, Gagliardini, Vidal, Perisic; Barella; Lukaku, Lautaro
Prediction: Sassuolo 1-1 Inter
After Wednesday’s loss, Inter will likely stumble out of the gates. A signature Domenico Berardi goal may very well be expected early. However, like Inter does in Serie A, they’ll remember how to play football once they fall behind. If Inter can nick a goal in the first half, they will be in a better position to find a winning goal in the second half as the match becomes wide open, just as both matchups between these two teams did last season. This match could go either way, as we saw with two high scoring, back and forth affairs last season. If Inter are to win this match, they will have to find some organization and discipline on the pitch, especially in the midfield.