While Inter’s offseason has been far from fun, the situation one hundred and forty kilometers east in Verona is even direr. Life is not looking bright for either tenant of the Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi. Chievo Verona has ceased to exist after bankruptcy and without a minor miracle, won’t start back from Serie D either. Its fierce rival, Hellas, at least remains in operation but lost the man behind its promotion, subsequent shock survival in the top flight, and an even more surprising pair of top-ten finishes. But Ivan Juric wasn’t promised the financial ambition a manager of his caliber deserves at Verona, where he was getting a rather average squad to punch heavily above its weight despite a plethora of player sales every summer.
The Croatian tactician moved on to the (only slightly) greener pastures of relegation battlers Torino. To replace him, Hellas opted for Eusebio Di Francesco, a man who has averaged *checks notes* 0.81 and 0.75 points per game (Juric averaged 1.22ppg) at his last two stops in Serie A. Safe to say, Di Francesco did not last long at either Sampdoria (8 matches) or Cagliari (26) and both clubs ended up narrowly above the drop zone at the end of May. Di Francesco has a massive task on his hands if Verona is to survive Juric’s exit without an immediate relegation. Hellas already started on the wrong foot and lost 3-2 to Sassuolo in last weekend’s season opener. Mattia Zaccagni was the sole bright spot, scoring both of the Mastiff's goals. The 26-year-old will be key to the fate of Verona’s campaign after breaking onto the scene last season with 5 goals and 5 assists. He and Barak have the quality to cause Inter headaches so Friday will be far from the walk in a park Genoa’s toothless attack proved to be.
Simone Inzaghi couldn’t have asked for a better debut as Inter manager, as the Nerazzurri beat Genoa 4-0 in front of 25,000 rowdy fans at the San Siro. Much bigger tests are on the horizon, however, but Inzaghi’s style is still in its beginning stages. Lautaro Martinez is back from suspension but is questionable with a back injury while Alexis Sanchez will be out until September. Rumors continue to swirl over Inter’s striker situation but it’s all but impossible we see either Joaquin Correa or Andrea Belotti as soon as Friday.
- 1-2 (A) - 23/12/2020
- 1-0 (H) - 25/4/2021
Inter has lost to Verona only once in the 26 times the teams have met (that’s all that fbref’s data covers at least). The Nerazzurri boast a 19W-6T-1L record, including a season sweep last season. Hellas didn’t make it easy for the good guys, however, forcing Inter to find second-half game-winners on both occasions.
Predicted Starting XIs
Though Di Francesco favors a back-four system with a heavy emphasis on the wingers, Verona has stuck with the 3-4-2-1 Juric used through the first two games of his tenure. Zacaggni and Antonin Barak (who tallied 7 goals and 3 assists last season) have flanked Nikola Kalinic upfront so far, with Kevin Lasagna out injured. Hellas lost Matteo Lovato, Federico Dimarco, and Marco Silvestri this past summer, but replacements have come in the form of Juventus’ Gianluca Frabotta, a permanent move for Man City midfielder Ivan Illic, and Benevento’s Lorenzo Montipo.
Prediction: Hellas Verona 0-2 Inter
Though we won’t have all of the fireworks of last Saturday, Inter will still take home all three points thanks to goals from Edin Dzeko and Matteo Darmian.