Inter Milan will be aiming to strengthen their position at the top of the Serie A table when they host fifth-placed AS Roma on Friday night.

Two giants of Italian football will go head to head on Friday night at San Siro, as 2019-20 Serie A leaders Inter Milan take on AS Roma in Matchweek 15.

Inter Milan have started the season on a strong note under new manager Antonio Conte. Following their 2-1 win over SPAL last weekend, the Nerazzurri currently sit atop the Serie A standings, just a point above reigning champions Juventus. They will be aiming to hold on to that spot with their fifth win in a row in all competitions on Friday night.

Roma, on the other hand, are stationed in the fifth spot in the table, level on points with fourth-placed Cagliari and just two behind Lazio in third. Last time they were in action, the Giallorossi defeated Hellas Verona 3-1, making it three wins in a row in all competitions. And a victory against Inter Milan this week will send Paulo Fonseca’s men up to third.

Ahead of this exciting match-up between the two Serie A heavyweights, we at The Hard Tackle take a close look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Inter Milan

Nicolo Barella (L) and Stefano Sensi (C) are both ruled out for Inter Milan (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Nicolo Barella (L) and Stefano Sensi (C) are both ruled out for Inter Milan. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

The home team will be without the services of on-loan attacker Alexis Sanchez and midfield mainstay Nicolo Barella, both of whom are expected to be out till the new year. Stefano Sensi is also likely to miss out for Inter due to a thigh problem, while Roberto Gagliardini is the latest addition to the treatment tables after picking up an injury against SPAL.

Antonio Conte will have an eye on next week’s Champions League assignment against Barcelona in mind while making his team selection, as Inter are yet to qualify for the knockout phase of the competition.

Captain Samir Handanovic is the undisputed choice between the sticks for the Serie A leaders. There are unlikely to be any changes to the three-man backline of Danilo D’Ambrosio, Stefan de Vrij and Milan Skriniar as Conte looks to protect veteran defender Diego Godin for the Barcelona clash.

Summer arrival Valentino Lazaro ought to start as the right-sided wing-back ahead of seasoned campaigner Antonio Candreva, while Cristiano Biraghi is likely to slot in on the opposite flank. The three-man central midfield unit for Inter is likely to comprise of Matias Vecino, Borja Valero and Marcelo Brozovic, who will be deployed as the deepest of the trio.

In attack, there is no looking past the duo of Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku, both of whom have been in excellent goalscoring form this season.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, de Vrij, Skriniar; Lazaro, Vecino, Brozovic, Valero, Biraghi; Martinez, Lukaku

AS Roma

Edin Dzeko is fit and available for Roma’s trip to Milan, after missing training earlier in the week due to illness. However, the Giallorossi will be without the services of Justin Kluivert and Federico Fazio, along with Bryan Cristante, Javier Pastore and Davide Zappacosta. Nicolo Zaniolo returns to the fold after missing the last game due to suspension.

There are unlikely to be a whole lot of changes made by manager Fonseca to the starting lineup that he fielded against Verona last time out.

Zaniolo is back for Roma after serving out his suspension (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

Zaniolo is back for Roma after serving out his suspension (Photo by Ozan Kose/AFP via Getty Images)

Former Tottenham goalkeeper Pau Lopez ought to continue between the sticks for the visitors, while on-loan defenders Chris Smalling and Gianluca Mancini will pair up at the heart of the defence. Aleksandar Kolarov is nailed on for the left-back slot, while Alessandro Florenzi could replace Davide Santon on the right-side of the back four.

There are unlikely to be any changes in the midfield either, with Amadou Diawara and Jordan Veretout slotting into the pivot positions, while Lorenzo Pellegrini, who is leading the assist charts for Roma in Serie A this term (6), should continue operating in the No. 10 role.

Zaniolo’s availability means he should walk back into the starting XI on the right wing, at the expense of Cengiz Under, while Kluivert’s absence could pave the way for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to start, after the Armenian scored after coming on as a substitute in the last game. Dzeko will form the focal point of the Roma attack.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Lopez; Florenzi, Smalling, Mancini, Kolarov; Diawara, Veretout; Zaniolo, Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan; Dzeko

Key Stats

  • Inter Milan and AS Roma have drawn their last three Serie A meetings. Only once have these sides drawn four in a row, back in 1967.
  • There have been 499 goals in Serie A meetings between Inter and Roma, and it could become the first fixture to reach 500 in the competition.
  • Roma (12) and Inter (11) are the two teams with the most goals from set-piece situations in this Serie A season; the Nerazzurri are also the team with the fewest goals conceded from set pieces (one).
  • Inter, who have recorded 12 wins in their first 14 Serie A games for the first time in their history, could become the second different team to win at least 13 games in the first 15 after Juventus (13 in 1949-50, 14 in 2005-06, 13 in 2013-14 and 14 in 2018-19).
  • Inter have won only three of their last 14 Serie A home games against Roma, the last one of those coming in 2015 (D6 L5).

Player to Watch

Lautaro Martinez

In the form of his life (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

In the form of his life. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

The 22-year-old Argentine international has started the 2019-20 campaign with a bang and has been one of Inter’s chief driving forces in their run to the top of the table under Antonio Conte. Martinez, so far this term, has found the back of the net on 13 occasions in 19 matches in all competitions, while setting up three more – including braces in his last two appearances.

Naturally, Martinez’s progress has seen him gather a lot of admirers, with Manchester City and Barcelona reportedly among the interested parties to secure his signing next summer. The Argentine international will be hoping to continue in the same vein of form in the rest of the season and help Inter end Juventus’ monopoly in the Serie A.

Prediction

Inter Milan 2-1  AS Roma

Both Inter Milan and AS Roma head into Friday night’s encounter on a good run of form and will be looking to notch up another victory. Given that both the teams have been quite solid in defence, chances are likely to come at a premium, making for an interesting battle.

However, considering the form that Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez have been in, Inter Milan should have the slightest of edges, despite an injury-hit midfield. And that is why, we at The Hard Tackle are backing Antonio Conte’s men to triumph on Friday night and extend their lead at the top of the table.

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