After leaving it late in Sunday’s comeback win against Cagliari, Inter return home for more Serie A action on Wednesday. The quick turnaround to face Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli sets up a high stakes clash between the league’s second and third place teams. With one point separating the two teams and with both gaining ground on league leaders Milan over the weekend, it is a match that both teams will consider a must win.
Following on from last season’s Coppa Italia win, Napoli have enjoyed a very bright season so far. On the pitch, they have lost only two matches in Serie A, while a third loss is attributed to a points deduction for a COVID-19 related match forfeiture against Juventus. Their two losses on the pitch came to Sassuolo and Milan, both strong sides so far. The Partenopei’s last match was a 2-1 comeback victory over Sampdoria, similar to Inter’s last match. Napoli’s only major miss for this match should be striker Victor Osimhen, who has been out since November with a shoulder injury. However, former Inter winger Matteo Politano is lurking in the Napoli squad and would relish a chance to score against his former club, just as he had a knack for doing so with Sassuolo.
Inter continued their recent run of victories in Serie A against Cagliari in a stress-inducing 2-1 away win. Winning ugly is an important characteristic for top sides to have, but the extra effort expended by the Inter players to turn around a 1-0 deficit with 15 minutes to go could linger with such a quick turnaround between matches. Especially for Nicolo Barella, who has been absolutely battered by opponents in recent matches while playing through an ankle knock. Despite this, it seems Inter will be going with a very similar team for the match. One of the few anticipated changes is Lautaro Martinez returning in the place of Alexis Sanchez. This is a fairly easy change to make because the Argentinian striker has enjoyed facing Napoli so far in his career. His three goals against Napoli include a late winner to take all three points in December of 2018. Another such performance nearly two years on would surely be welcome. Other likely changes include Roberto Gagliardini for Christian Eriksen in the midfield and Ashley Young for Ivan Perisic on the left.
1-3 (A) - 6/1/2020
0-1 (H) - 12/2/2020 (Coppa Italia Semifinal, Leg 1)
1-1 (A) - 13/6/2020 (Coppa Italia Semifinal, Leg 2)
2-0 (H) - 28/7/2020
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Inter 1-0 Napoli
Now is the time for Antonio Conte to step up against another Scudetto contender. Both teams have the capability of scoring goals in bunches, but they also have the defensive personnel to cancel out opposition attackers. This match, like a few recent matches between the two, should be a cagey affair. However, Inter should be able to grab a winning goal through Lukaku and Lautaro, who have both proven their propensity for scoring against Napoli.