Inter is in the Champions League semi-finals (it still doesn’t feel real to write that), but in Serie A, the situation is only worsening. As if a 6-game-winless run, 5 of which were losses, wasn’t enough, Inter is now dumped even further down the table thanks to Juventus’ successful appeal of its 15-point reduction. The Nerazzurri, in 6th on 51 points, now have a 5-point gap between it and 4th place Roma (56 points), with Milan sandwiched in the middle on 53. If Inter doesn’t find its winning touch A.S.A.P. it's in danger of falling out of the top four race entirely, starting with a visit to Empoli in Sunday’s lunchtime kickoff.
Empoli is 14th on 32 points and 9 clear of the relegation zone, but trending in the wrong direction under manager Paolo Zanetti in his first season at the club. After an unbeaten opening five games to 2023, including a 1-0 win at Inter, Empoli has recorded a 1W-4D-6L record in its next ten outings, scoring 6 and conceding 13. Empoli’s games have almost entirely been low-scoring affairs decided by a goal or less. Zanetti’s side has the 3rd worst attack in the league with 25 scored but makes up for that with Serie A’s 10th-best defense and 37 conceded. The last time Empoli scored multiple goals in one game was back on February 11th in a 2-2 draw with Spezia. Since then it’s been bleak, and not only for Empoli but also for anyone that’s had the displeasure of watching any of their games.
Twenty-year-old midfielder Tommaso Baldanzi leads Empoli’s charts with 4 goals, although he hasn’t scored since his game-winner against the Nerazzurri back in January. Inter-loanee Martin Satriano has 2 goals and 1 assist to his name in 27 games but has lost his starting spot to Atalanta product Roberto Piccoli of late (albeit to no avail - Piccoli hasn’t registered a goal contribution in 4 starts).
Inter‘s biggest problem come Sunday will be a familiar one - making the most of its chances. It’s been the same story time after time this season, and last week’s 1-0 loss to Monza was no exception. For better or worse, this weekend’s clash with Empoli is the last of a three-game run of easy on-paper matches, with Salernitana and Monza already in the book. After this weekend, Inter’s sights move onto the likes of Lazio and Roma, so three points tomorrow is crucial if those two showdowns aren’t going to be must-wins (or at least anymore must-wins than they already are) for Simone Inzaghi’s side.
Inter has a 32W-4D-4L lead in the all-time series against Empoli, but as the 1-0 loss for the Nerazzurri in the reverse fixture showed, the Tuscan side is no pushover.
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Empoli 0-2 Inter Milan
Surely the Serie A winless run has to end at some point, right? I’ll be optimistic and say that that day is Sunday. The Nerazzurri will take the victory from the Stadio Carlo Castellani thanks to goals from Romelu Lukaku and Nicolo Barella.