Inter Milan’s midweek defeat to Sampdoria was a shock to the system but the Nerazzurri don’t have any time to rue the destruction of its eight-game winning run. Instead Antonio Conte’s outfit travel to the Stadio Olimpico to defend its second-place spot against a surging AS Roma.
The Giallorossi are just three points back of Inter and boast three straight wins coming into the weekend. Paulo Foncesca’s side is lethal offensively.It leads the league in expected goals (39) and is 3rd in actual goals and shot-creating actions, though Roma has had trouble finishing on occasion. Even so, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is one of the star performers in Serie A so far, with 8 goals and 7 assists in 1,392 minutes, averaging a goal or assist every 92 minutes. The threat extends much deeper than solely the Armenian, however. Edin Dzeko has 7 tallies of his own and he and Mkhitaryan rank 2nd and 3rd across the league respectively in non-penalty expected goals (Lukaku is 1st). Meanwhile, the two wingbacks, Leonardo Spinazzola and Rick Karsdorp, have 1 goal and 6 assists between them so far. Jordan Veretout (7g, 1a) and Lorenzo Pellegrini (2g, 3a) can dictate play in midfield as well. And if you were wondering about defense, well, Roma’s 7 goals conceded is the least in Serie A. The trio of Chris Smalling, Roger Ibanez, and Gianluca Mancini is proving to be one of the best in Italy.
In short, this is a very complete squad with
few no weaknesses of any kind, though there is a reliance on Mkhitaryan in attack, as Roma performs markedly better with him on the pitch than not. Even so, the Giallorossi is known to struggle in games against other top-of-the-table teams and has gone 0W-3T-2L in this season’s outings versus the top seven. That doesn’t tell the full story, though. Drawing Milan and Juventus is no easy feat and despite playing at ten-men for an hour, Roma deserved all three points in a 0-0 draw against Sassuolo.
Inter had a chance to go first Wednesday when Milan fell 3-1 to Juve, but ends up being drawn back into the pack. Inter’s three point cushion on Roma is now in jeopardy, while Juventus is only six points back with a game-in-hand. Earning a positive result at Roma is crucial not only to keep ahold of second-place, but to avoid potentially slipping into yet another January malaise.
The last five fixtures between Inter and Roma have ended in draws, going back to January 2018.
- 0-0 (H), 6/12/19
- 2-2 (A), 19/7/20
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: AS Roma 2-2 Inter Milan
With Roma unbeaten at home (6W-2T-0L) and full of confidence, Inter will be hard-pressed to earn a result. The Nerazzurri should still have enough quality and a healthy Lukaku to take a point back home to Milan, but I expect an end-to-end affair that could end up going either way.