Just when it seemed like all hope was lost, Inter stunned all but the most optimistic of us with a 1-0 win over Barcelona under the Champions League spotlight. The Nerazzurri rode a stellar defensive performance and Hakan Calhanoglu’s curler to all three points, but there isn't much time to enjoy Tuesday’s success. Though the return leg in Spain looms on the very near horizon, Inter returns to Serie A with a visit to Emilia Romagna and a must-win clash with Sassuolo.
The Neroverdi sit 8th with 12 points, one spot above Inter and level on points. Sassuolo went through another summer of transition in the transfer market, as is custom with a club with as much young talent as it offers. Giacomo Raspadori (Napoli) and Gianluca Scamacca (West Ham) bode farewell, and in came Inter’s Andrea Pinamonti. But perhaps the biggest news for manager Alessio Dionisi came in Domenico Berardi’s contract renewal until 2027, meaning the 28-year-old could feasibly end his professional career as a rare one-club man - all 330 appearances, 122 goals, and 84 assists to his name have come in the green and black of Sassuolo. Berardi’s 22/23 season hasn't quite gone to plan - he’s missed four games with a thigh injury - but he should be back in time for Inter and his seasonal habit of scoring against the big clubs. In his absence, Sassuolo’s attack has moved to a scoring-by-committee approach with mixed results - taking last week’s 5-0 thrashing of Salernitana out of the equation Sassuolo has managed just 5 goals in 7 games. Its 10 total goals have come from eight scorers, with Frattesi and Pinamonti leading the charts with 2 tallies each, so keep an eye out for the Law of the Ex.
Inter’s loss to Roma sent it tumbling down to 9th, five points out of the Champions League places and eight off Napoli and Atalanta in first. The remainder of October features a number of tricky but winnable games (@ Sassuolo and Fiorentina, home vs Salernitana and Sampdoria), so a run up the table isn’t out of the question. It’s going to take a significant improvement on what we’ve seen from Inter so far, however, and turning the type of performance against Barca from the rare to the routine.
Sassuolo has been Inter’s most dreaded bogey team of late so it’s no surprise to see the all-time record equal at 8W-2D-8L including one win each last season.
- 1-2 (A), 2/10/2021
- 0-2 (H), 20/2/2022
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Sassuolo 1-2 Inter Milan
Inter will use the momentum from midweek to conquer the Neroverdi, though the hosts won’t make it easy whatsoever. Berardi and Dzeko will trade first-half goals but the decider will come from an in-form Calhanoglu late on.