Inter Milan squeaked past Napoli thanks to a Lukaku penalty Wednesday, but the Nerazzurri will be hoping for a more comfortable result on the weekend. Inter will meet Spezia in the top-flight for the first time ever on Sunday with a chance to cement its spot in the top-two.
Spezia achieved promotion to Serie A for the first time in its history last season. The Aquilotti finished third in B with 61 points from 38 games, before going through the promotion play-offs. Despite being predicted to head right back down to the second division, Vicenzo Italiano’s side has held its own through twelve rounds. With 11 points and a 2W-5T-5L record, Spezia is in 16th, four points both above the drop-zone and out of 10th. Recent form has been disappointing and Spezia has gone five games without a win. Though Spezia rarely struggle to score thanks in large part to M’Bala Nzola’s six goals, keeping the ball out of the net is another story. Spezia’s 25 conceded is the second-most, while leaking four to the worst attack in the league, Crotone, is always a sign of concern.
Despite this being Inter’s first coming together with Spezia, there are some familiar faces at the other end. 18-year-old Lucien Agoume is on loan to Spezia. The midfielder has made just two starts, including in the Aquilotti’s most recent match against Bologna. His time on loan has been a disappointment so far, but there’s plenty of the season left for the Frenchmen to make a bigger impression and come back to Milan ready for substantial minutes.
Inter’s tight win over Napoli keeps it in second, but the Nerazzurri are now a sole point behind league leaders Milan. Furthermore, Inter has three and four-point leads on Juve and Napoli/Roma, respectively. Continuing its superb run of form into the new year will relieve a lot of pressure off Inter and keep it near or even at the top of the table.
Predicted Starting XIs
Tired legs could be found everywhere you looked Wednesday, so some squad rotation is what the doctor ordered. The back three has gone six straight games without any changes, and Andrea Ranocchia and Danilo D’Ambrosio are perfectly adequate stand-ins. Nicolo Barella and Romelu Lukaku are also showing signs of wear. Perhaps we see a rare Christian Eriksen start or an even rarer glimpse of Andrea Pinamonti. With a difficult trip to Verona closing out Inter’s 2020 schedule, the grind does not let up anytime soon.
Prediction: Inter Milan 2-1 Spezia
Spezia’s low table position is a bit deceiving, or at least it was to Atalanta and Lazio. The newly-promoted side tied Atalanta 0-0 and was unlucky to lose to Lazio 2-1 after completely outplaying the side from the capitol. Inter, though, should be able to take care of business at home even if Conte makes a few changes to the lineup.