Inter’s quest to break a three-game losing streak in Serie A will take the Nerazzurri south to Salerno and face–to-face with Paulo Sousa’s Salernitana. Romelu Lukaku’s last-minute penalty against Juventus in Tuesday’s Coppa Italia semifinal was enough to keep the tie level, but it stretched Inter’s winless run in all competitions to five. That has to change this Friday, or else the consequences could be very dire for both the team and manager Simone Inzaghi.
Last weekend’s dreadful 1-0 loss to Fiorentina was all the worse thanks to the other results from the teams in European contention - all of which claimed maximum points. Inter is now down to 4th and tied on 50 points with 5th place Roma. Lazio (55 points) and Milan (51) round out the top four, while Atalanta (48) and Juventus (44) lurk behind. Most worrying of all is the possibility of the Bianconeri reclaiming all of those deducted points and leapfrogging everyone but Napoli.
With Salernitana, Monza, and Empoli on the upcoming calendar, Inter theoretically has a chance to make sure they’re not the team booted out of the top four when/if that happens. Of course, nothing has been as easy as it should have been this season for the Nerazzurri, starting with just these types of matches, and the Champions League quarterfinal first leg against Benfica looming on Tuesday sure doesn’t make things easier.
Salernitana currently sits 15th on 28 points, 9 ahead of the relegation zone and Hellas Verona. Its unbeaten in its last five outings, but just one of those was a victory and its currently on a four-match draw streak. Paulo Sousa is the current manager after replacing Davide Nicola, who became one of the few managers to be sacked twice by the same club within a span of mere weeks. Nicola, who masterminded Salernitana’s incredible run to safety in 2022, was initially brought back days after being sacked the first time due to difficulties finding a replacement but bungled his second chance and lasted only four more games before Sousa was called upon.
The situation has improved a bit under the Portuguese manager, but Salernitana remains a lower mid-table team. Its attack is 13th in the league but the real problems are on the backline, which has conceded 48 goals in 28 games (the second-worst tally in Serie A). The midseason signing of Guillermo Ochoa from Club América (winning the Most Random Transfer of the Year award) has helped a bit, but Salernitana has kept just two clean sheets in its last thirteen fixtures. On the flip side, Boulaye Dia has been quite the revelation in his first season in Italy and is at 10 goals and 4 assists so far. Our old friend Antonio Candreva (3g, 3a), now playing attacking midfielder, is also worth keeping an eye out for, as well as 21-year-old Inter-loanee and centerback Lorenzo Pirola.
Inter has a 5W-0D-2L lead in the all time series against Salernitana, including a 2-0 win back in the reverse fixture in October.
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Salernitana 0-2 Inter Milan
Inter will find a way to get the job done on short rest, spearheaded by a Lautaro brace.