Thursday, 25th September
San Siro, 7:45 PM BST
The Nerazzurri return to the gallows of the San Siro come Wednesday evening to take on Vicenzo Montella’s Fiorentina in one of the most eagerly anticipated clashes of the midweek round of games in the Serie A. What makes it so interesting is that both teams come into the game on the back of comprehensive wins, and playing some of their best football. Whereas Inter touched seventh heaven at Sassuolo on Sunday, the Viola came out with a convincing 2-0 victory against a tricky Atalanta at Bergamo. There were positives in abundance for both the sides – the pompous return of Diego Milito will certainly be a confidence booster for Mazzarri’s men. On the other hand, Giuseppe Rossi continued his hot streak in front of goal, taking his tally to 4 in 5 games this season.
For Walter Mazzarri, things could have not kick-started in a better way in the coat of the Nerazzurri. After four rounds of action, Inter remain unbeaten, dropping only two points en route to cementing third place in the table. Meanwhile, Fiorentina have coped up well with the departure of star man Stefan Jovetic as Giuseppe Rossi’s form has endeared him to the manager and fans alike, ably stepping into the boots vacated by the Montenegrin’s departure.
Team News & Tactical Brief
The home side comes into the game on the back of a resounding win at Sassuolo in the weekend, and it would be no surprise if Mazzarri names an unchanged squad on Thursday evening. Samir Handanovic will continue in goal, and the defense, which has just conceded a solitary goal in 360 minutes of action, will most likely see Andrea Ranocchia, Juan Jesus and Hugo Campagnaro start in tandem, alongside the impressive Jonathan and Yuto Nagatomo who will start down the right and the left flank respectively.
Esteban Cambiasso will sit in front of the defense and screen the back 3 to nip any potential Fiorentina counters. Freddy Guarin and Saphir Taider are expected to continue their partnership in the center of midfield, playing in the box to box role. But, the star quotient in midfield will definitely be Ricardo Alvarez. The Argentine has arguably been the best player for the Nerazzurri since the start of the season and Mazzarri will rely on the silky playmaker to provide the majority of the team’s creative quotient. Montella must have a special plan to stem the Argentine’s influence if Fiorentina are to show some yield from their trip to Milan. Rodrigo Palacio is likely to start upfront, given his steadily growing partnership with Alvarez.
Probable Starting Lineup [3-5-1-1]: Handanovic; Jonathan; Campagnaro; Rannochia; Juan; Nagatomo; Cambiasso; Guarin; Taider; Alvarez; Palacio
Montella’s men have started the season on a similar tone mustering up 10 points out of a possible 12, a solitary goal the difference between the two sides in the league table. In contrast to last season, Montella has largely opted for the more conventional four man back-line so far this campaign. Nenad Tomovic, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Stefan Savic and Manuel Pasqual are likely to continue in defense, protected by Massimo Ambrosini just in front of them. The veteran has enjoyed a fine run of form and will be hoping for more of the same come Thursday.
Alberto Aquilani and Matias Fernandez are likely to start in midfield, with Joaquin and Borja Valero direct candidates for the #10 role. Aquilani will play as the dictator from deep with Fernandez bombing forward as and when required. The choice between Valero and Joaquin for the #10 role depends on the gameplan Montella adopts. Whereas Joaquin provides natural width down the right, Valero gives more incisiveness through the middle and also provides the extra body in midfield when not in possession of the ball. Giuseppe Rossi is likely to continue his partnership with Rafael Wolski upfront.
Probable Starting Lineup [4-1-2-1-2]: Neto; Tomovic; Rodriguez; Savic; Pasqual; Ambrosini; Fernandez; Aquilani; Valero; Rossi; Wolski
Players To Watch Out For
Ricardo Alvarez (Inter)
There is simply no one in the Inter squad currently that excites the viewer more than Alvarez. After enduring two largely sub-par seasons under different managements, the Argentine has finally found his footing under the stewardship of Mazzarri. Central to many of his team’s attacks, Alvarez is a tactically astute player who can either drop deep or move sideways to build up his team’s attacks with incisive passing. Fiorentina will definitely have their hands full of the Argentine and will have to devise a plan to limit his influence on the game if they do not want to leave the San Siro empty handed.
Giuseppe Ross (Fiorentina)
On the other hand, the story of Rossi seems no less than a fairy-tale to most who have followed the Italian. The striker was probably out for the count with the string of injuries to his knee, but a move to Florence in the January mercato probably borught a ray of hope to a struggling career. Since his return to action this season, the forward has scored 4 goals in 5 starts and has probably softened the blow of Jovetic’s departure. Come Thursday and the Viola faithful will be hoping for more of the same from the striker as they aim to leapfrog Inter into the top 3.
Inter 2-1 Fiorentina
The free flowing attacking based play of both sides makes this encounter an intriguing battle, one of the more interesting games in the Peninsula in the forthcoming week. Fiorentina will test Mazzarri’s men on more than one occasion but home advantage is a big factor in favour of the Nerazzurri and against the Viola. Expect Fiorentina to keep the ball well but Inter to land the sucker punch on the counter. Though, it is almost impossible to foresee the Viola not getting one past Handanovic.