Tuesday’s Coppa Italia win over city rivals AC Milan put a lot of Inter Milan fans on notice for the second half of the Serie A season, which begins at home against Benevento on Saturday. September feels like it was years ago at this point, when Inter last played Benevento in their second match of the season, though it was the first fixture on the schedule. Inter cruised to a resounding 5-2 win in the first match between the two clubs this season, which was moved at the request of Inter after their lengthy Europa League run over the summer. This weekend, Antonio Conte and his team will be looking for a similar result to kick off the final 19 rounds of Serie A play.
While Inter had a midweek Coppa Italia fixture, Filippo Inzaghi’s Benevento have not played since last Friday, when they settled for a 2-2 draw against lowly Torino. Before last Friday, consecutive 4-1 thumpings at the hands of Atalanta and fellow promoted side Crotone blemished what had been a respectable first half of the season. Compared to their first stint in Serie A back in the 2017-18 season, Benevento have really excelled in Italy’s top flight. Their 22 points and 11th place at the halfway stage of this season already eclipses 2017-18’s full season total of 21, bottom of the league. They have been tough customers against some of the league’s top sides, earning draws against Lazio and Juventus, though their penchant for attacking has left them exposed against Atalanta, Roma, and Inter already this season.
Benevento’s success is down to personnel improvements over their first venture into Serie A. Defender Kamil Glik as well as forwards Iago Falque, Gianluca Lapadula, and Gianluca Caprari, formerly of Inter, are a few of the players responsible for the club’s improvement and will surely be in the mix on Saturday.
Since Romelu Lukaku’s fiery row with Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Tuesday, it’s been all smiles in the Inter camp. The late victory thanks to unlikely hero Christian Eriksen has everyone around the club buzzing at the opportunity of silverware in at least on domestic competition this season. In the league, the 0-0 draw against Udinese saw Inter miss a chance to go top if the league, something they will need to jump at when the opportunity presents itself in the race to the season’s end.
With the two-legged Coppa Italia clash against Juventus now on the horizon, there will be some squad rotation for this match. Starts for Ivan Perisic, Andrea Ranocchia, and one of either Stefano Sensi or the possibly reinvigorated Eriksen are possible. Achraf Hakimi and Lukaku should both be starting, as they will miss out on the first leg of the Coppa semifinal due to yellow card accumulation in Inter’s first two matches of the competition.
2-0 (H) - 24/2/2018
6-2 (H) - 13/1/2019 (Coppa Italia)
2-5 (A) - 30/9/2020
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Inter 4-1 Benevento
Benevento are one of these smaller sides that Inter have found some scoring success against because of their attacking tendencies. This will see Inzaghi’s men likely score, but Conte’s men score even more. Fireworks like the first match. Expect some goals from Inter’s strikers to get them ready for the upcoming run of big fixtures. Caprari and Lapadula are probably also good bets to get Benevento on the scoresheet. A resounding win to start the second half of the season, nonetheless.