Champions League? Disaster once again. Scudetto? Still up in the air.
Now, though, Inter can add a third competition to its 2020/21 resume. The Nerazzurri’s Coppa Italia journey is set to begin when Antonio Conte’s side visit the Artemio Franchi and Fiorentina in the Round of 16.
La Viola have changed a good deal since Inter’s wild 4-3 win over the Tuscany side back in September. Beppe Iachini was sacked in November after a 2W-2T-3L record to start 2020/21, though the play on the pitch was that of a relegation side in terms of watchability and position in the table. Cesare Prandelli’s return to the Fiorentina dugout starter with a six-game winless run but its fortunes have reversed recently. After a shock 3-0 win at Juventus before the winter break, Fiorentina has climbed to 12th with 18 points (6 ahead of the drop) and gone 1W-1T-1L to start the new year. Dusan Vlahovic has five goals in his last six, including the gamewinner in La Viola’s last outing, a 1-0 win over Cagliari. Even so, many of the same issues that lead to Iachini’s exit haunt Prandelli’s Fiorentina. Though the later has employed a more positive style of play than his predecessor, Fiorentina’s midfield still struggles to imprint itself onto games. Gaetano Castrovilli has struggled recently after a red-hot start to the campaign, while Sofyan Amrabat is still settling in with mixed results after a summer move from Hellas Verona. The star performers so far have been goalkeeper Bartłomiej Drągowski (known for his unforgettable beard) and the aforementioned Vlahovic. Both will likely play big roles Wednesday, with Inter peppering Drągowski’s goal and the Serbian providing La Viola’s main goal threat.
Inter has gone winless in two games after its lengthy winning streak was broken by a sturdy Sampdoria. But with a crucial encounter with Juventus arriving Sunday, the Nerazzurri need to get back on track and the momentum of a possible midweek cup win could give it the boost it needs ahead of the Derby d’Italia.
Inter met Fiorentina is last season’s Coppa Italia as well, triumphing by a score of 2-1 in the quarter-final stage. In fact, Inter hasn’t lost to La Viola since April 2017, going 4W-4T-0L since then.
- 1-1 (A), 12/15
- 2-1 (H), 1/29 (Coppa Italia)
- 0-0 (H), 7/22
- 4-3 (H), 9/26
Predicted Starting XIs
With this being such an early fixture, squad rotation is expected from Antonio Conte. Aleksandar Kolarov could make a rare appearance, though Christian Eriksen’s would be even more stunning. Andrea Ranocchia and Alexis Sanchez may slot in as well, and perhaps even Andrei Radu could get the start in goal.
This is a bit more meaningful for Fiorentina, however, considering its position in the table. Prandelli tried out a 3-4-2-1 over the weekend to good effect and we likely will see its return Wednesday, though with a slightly changed cast of characters depending on Prandelli’s preferences.
Prediction: Fiorentina 1-2 Inter Milan
The last seven meetings between these sides have been decided by one goal or less, and I expect that to continue this time around. A goal from Vlahovic will give Fiorentina hope but a Lautaro Martinez brace should ensure Nerazzurri advancement.