Inter’s Champions League group stage ended with a bit of a dud, but the good news is that the Nerazzurri can turn the page very quickly from the 0-0 draw against Real Sociedad. Simone Inzaghi’s men are back in action in a marquee Sunday night visit to Lazio, another must-win in a Scudetto race with only the thinnest of margins (2 points, to be exact, with Juve playing at Genoa on Friday) between Inter and second-place Juventus.
Inzaghi made his priorities clear with his rotation against Sociedad, benching Alessandro Bastoni, Nicolo Barella, and Lautaro Martinez even with first place on the line. The pressure will be on to make that sacrifice worth it, but even with a full squad, picking up all three points at the Stadio Olimpico won’t be easy. In fact, Inzaghi has yet to even earn a draw on the road against his old club, losing back-to-back fixtures by a 3-1 scoreline since he took charge. This year, though, with Inter playing some superb football and on a nine-game Serie A unbeaten run, offers the perfect opportunity for Inzaghi’s losing streak to break.
Lazio’s poor start to the 2023/24 campaign is theoretically another point in Inter’s favor (although it could motivate the Aquilotti even more to slow their old coach’s side down). Despite leading Lazio to 2nd place last season, Maurizio Sarri has struggled to find the same winning formula this time around, and a decline across the board has been the story so far. Lazio is 10th with 21 points (albeit only 4 out of the top four) with a perfect zero goal differential, and comes into Sunday off a draw at Hellas Verona and a midweek defeat to Atletico Madrid that cost it a top spot in Group E of the UCL.
Lazio’s defense has been fairly solid, with the 6th fewest goals conceded in Serie A, but that’s still a drop-off from last season when it boasted the best record in Europe. Still, that wouldn’t be such a big deal if not for what’s gone on (or better yet, not gone on) in the final third. Lazio has the 13th-best attack in Italy with 16 goals scored in 15 games, scoring multiple goals in just one of its last 11 games. Ciro Immobile’s legs are beginning to catch up to him, scoring just 4 times in Serie A and occasionally even heading to the bench in place of summer arrival Taty Castellanos (1g, 2a). Felipe Anderson (1g, 6a), Luis Alberto (2g, 3a), and Pedro (3g) form the remainder of the attack, all tallying some subpar numbers. The big name missing is that of Serjej Milinkovic-Savic, now plying his trade in Saudi Arabia. The Serbian’s departure has proven harder to replace than expected, despite the arrivals of Matteo Guenduozi, Daichi Kamada, Taty Castellanos, and Nicolo Rovella. Those players are still adapting to Sarri’s system, which now features an SMS-sized hole smack in the middle, and has thus resulted in Lazio’s current predicament.
Inter leads the all-time series with a 75W-59D-48L record, with both teams trading 3-1 wins at home last season.
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Lazio 1-2 Inter Milan
Lazio will put up quite the fight, but ultimately Inter will come out on top thanks to a brace from Lautaro Martinez in the big moments.