Inter’s Coppa Italia journey ended in success with a midweek 2-1 victory over Fiorentina, leaving two objectives of four remaining in the 2022/23 season. One, the Champions League, will have to wait until June, but the Nerazzurri can secure their place in next season’s version of Europe’s premier competition as soon as this weekend when it hosts Atalanta.
All Inter needs is one point from its remaining two games (vs Atalanta and @ Torino) to end in the top four alongside Napoli, Lazio, and Milan. The road was a lot bumpier as recently as a week ago, but a new 10-point deduction handed out to Juventus (and a subsequent 4-1 loss at the hands of Empoli) means the Bianconeri are no longer a factor in the race for the UCL spots. That gives Inter a bit of breathing room and should it pick up any sort of result against Atalanta, Simone Inzaghi could play the reserves next week in Turin after the first week in between games for what feels like forever with the UCL final in mind.
Atalanta is 5th on 61 points, three short of Milan and five of Inter. A Europa League spot looks like the best it can do, although Roma (60 points) won’t let La Dea sit easy yet. While Gian Piero Gasperini’s side did manage to improve on its 2021/22 season which ended without European competition whatsoever, the ages of Atalanta wowing the league with some beautiful football are consigned to the past for good and it appears to have more or less hit its ceiling. Atalanta has the fourth-best attack in the league, but though summer signings Ademola Lookman (13g, 5a) and Rasmus Hojlund (8g, 2a) have impressed, they haven’t been able to find top-form for sustained periods, while former stalwarts Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata have seen their impact decrease significantly due to a number of reasons. On the other end of the field, Atalanta has conceded the 10th most despite the entrance of 19-year-old Giorgio Scalvini onto the scene, linked to Inter as a possible Milan Skriniar-replacement.
Inter has a 74W-36D-27L lead in the all-time series, including a 3-2 win in the reverse fixture back in November and a 1-0 victory in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals.
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Inter Milan 2-2 Atalanta
The Nerazzurri derby has been a high-scoring showdown in Serie A recently, and that trend could easily continue in this weekend’s edition. The absence of all-too-high stakes and Inter’s return to earth after a midweek trophy lift will lead to a back-and-forth outing with goals from Ademola Lookman and Luis Muriel canceled out by a Romelu Lukaku brace.