After what seems like forever, more like 20 days, Inter will be back in action on Sautrday against Bologna at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara. Though Inter will be returning, there are some questions regarding the status of Inter’s Italian internationals. Nicolo Barella, Alessandro Bastoni, and Stefano Sensi have returned from World Cup qualification play, but are now subject to COVID concerns after some of the national team’s staff, as well as Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci, have come down with the illness. Despite the concerns, the match looks set to go ahead with Inter still looking to take another step towards the Scudetto.
Bologna come into the match with a player on COVID watch as well. Midfielder Roberto Soriano was also in the Italy squad and is training separately in the buildup to the match as a precaution. Before the international break, Bologna were enjoying some decent form, winning three of their last five including victories over Lazio and Sampdoria.
Sinisa Mihajlovic’s team have been the epitome of midtable this season, sitting just outside of the top 10. However, this fixture has not been a cakewalk for Inter in recent memory. The two teams have split the last four meetings, with Inter winning the first this season by a score of 3-1 at home back in December, but last year’s shock loss at home will still be fresh in the mind of many on both sides. Bologna striker Musa Barrow always seems to show up against the Nerazzurri, whether at Atalanta or Bologna. The Gambian is a player Inter will have to be on high alert for, especially on the counter.
It’s been nearly three weeks since Lautaro Martinez somehow managed to bend in a fadeaway header for a dramatic late victory away to Torino. Since then, a COVID outbreak that sidelined the team with the infections of Samir Handanovic, Stefan de Vrij, Matias Vecino, and Danilo D’Ambrosio has pushed last month’s match against Sassuolo to next week and a new COVID scare has Inter’s Italian national team contingent in doubt. A positive for Antionio Conte is that other players on international duty seem to have come off scot-free and will be fit and available. Along with the players who made it through international duty, Handanovic, de Vrij, and Vecino have cleared COVID protocols, but their fitness is still questionable. It will be interesting to see if Handanovic and de Vrij are given starting nods or if Andrei Radu will get a long-awaited start.
Another positive for Antonio Conte’s squad is that South American World Cup qualifiers were put off, meaning that Lautaro and Alexis Sanchez remained in Milano to rest and train. It has also given Arturo Vidal more time to rehab his surgically repaired knee, though he is not quite available yet. Nonetheless, Conte will still have plenty of firepower to choose from across the pitch. The only issue will be seeing how many of the players at his disposal will be match sharp.
1-2 (H) - 5/7/2020
3-1 (H) - 5/12/2020
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Bologna 1-2 Inter
This may be another slog of a match like Torino was. The sharpness of the players will be a big question mark for the team. Inter tends to come out of the gates slowly after an international break. With an extra week on top of that for the COVID precautions around the postponed Sassuolo match, this could be a really tough one. Barrow is always a very possible goal scorer in this fixture, but a fresh Lautaro with Alexis ready to come on at a moment’s notice look ready to turn any kind of adversity around, even if it is in dramatic fashion.