Inter’s 2023/24 campaign has begun quite smoothly, perhaps even surprisingly so given the reputation of the club we’re talking about here. The Nerazzurri have picked up back-to-back 2-0 wins over Monza and Cagliari with little fuss. That run of comfort looks set to end this weekend, however, when Fiorentina visits the Guiseppe Meazza.
La Viola has had a topsy-turvy start to the season, demolishing Genoa 4-1 in the opener only to blow a 2-0 lead the following week at home vs Lecce. Fiorentina also advanced past Rapid Wien 2-1 on aggregate in the UEFA Conference League playoffs, as it tries to do one better than last year, in which it lost in the final (one of two finals La Viola fell to defeat in along with the Coppa Italia). Fiorentina is only in the Conference League this season thanks to Juventus’ European ban after finishing eight last season. While not a bad ranking at all, it was a regression on 2021/22 as everyone from players to manager Vincenzo Italiano struggled to handle multi-game weeks. The second leg of the Rapid Wien series was played Thursday, so heavy legs may be a factor again come this weekend. Italiano should have the squad depth to cope, however. The Tuscan side was one of the busiest Serie A clubs in the transfer market, selling Arthur Cabral, Igor, and possibly Sofyan Amrabat, while bringing in M’Bala Nzola, Lucas Beltran, Arthur Melo, Yerry Mina, and Fabiano Parisi to.
Inter hasn’t needed to reach its higher gears yet, but Fiorentina will push the Nerazzurri up at least a level or two. The glimpses of intricate passing schemes and link-up play we’ve seen so far bode well, though, and Simone Inzaghi’s task this past week will be to have turned those moments into something more substantial. Of course, the big news of the past few days is the arrival of Benjamin Pavard from Bayern Munich, finally made official Wednesday. He won’t be fit for much more than a bench spot, but just seeing him on the San Siro pitch in Inter colors will be a moment to enjoy after the back-and-forth saga that followed his and just about every Inter transfer targets deal - this one, though, ended in success for the good guys. As for who will be available against Fiorentina, we may see a debut start for Davide Frattesi with Henrikh Mkhitaryan dealing with a slight knock. Inzaghi has been hesitant to use Inter’s young midfielders so far, with Kristjan Asllani and Stefano Sensi particularly forgotten, but perhaps Mkhitaryan’s fitness concerns will open the doors to them and Frattesi as soon as Sunday.
Inter has a 78W-58D-50L advantage in the all-time series against Fiorentina, but recent results have been topsy-turvy. The good guys won 2-1 in the Coppa Italia final in May but lost 0-1 at home and pulled a 4-3 win out of its hat in the away trip last season.
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Inter Milan 2-1 Fiorentina
Fiorentina won’t make it easy, but Inter will claim all three points thanks to strikes from Lautaro Martinez and Marcus Thuram, although a Nico Gonzalez strike will ensure the Nerazzurri’s run of shut-outs doesn’t last.