After back to back defeats in domestic competitions, Inter Milan will be eyeing a redemption when they welcome Sampdoria at San Siro on Sunday.
Following a 4-2 triumph in the Milan derby at the start of February, Inter Milan have endured a horrible month so far, notably slumping to defeats against Napoli (Coppa Italia) and Lazio. As a result, they are now running the risk of being outrun in the title race as they are already trailing league leaders Juventus by six points.
However, the Nerazurri are coming on the back of a 2-0 win over Ludogorets in the UEFA Europa League. And a win against Sampdoria could potentially help reduce the gap at the top to three points while giving them the chance to overtake Lazio, should the outfit from Rome lose to Genoa tomorrow.
As for Sampdoria, they have been one of the worst-performing teams in Serie A this season. In 24 matches, they have accumulated only 23 points, which is just one more than relegation-threatened Genoa. That means a defeat to Inter Milan could see Sampdoria moving into the relegation zone.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this important fixture in the Italian top flight this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
Antonio Conte, quite expectedly, made a host of changes to the side that secured a 2-0 win over Ludogorets in the Europa League. He is expected to revert those changes this time out, with Alexis Sanchez, in particular, likely to return to the bench.
The Chilean is set to make way for top scorer Romelu Lukaku, who, in turn, will join Lautaro Martinez and spearhead the Inter Milan attack. Christian Eriksen, however, is a favourite to start this weekend despite starting in midweek, when he scored a goal against Ludogorets.
With Stefano Sensi out injured, the Dane could operate as the number ten, looking to provide supply to Martinez and Lukaku up front.
There could be wholesome changes in the second line of press, with both Nicolo Barella and Marcelo Brozovic likely to replace the duo of Borja Valero and Matias Vecino. Meanwhile, the wing-backs Victor Moses and Cristiano Biraghi are also expected to make way for Ashley Young and Antonio Candreva, both of whom were rested in midweek.
In defence, Diego Godin is the only player who could retain his place in a three-man backline. The Uruguayan is set to partner the reliable duo of Milan Skriniar and Stefan de Vrij though there won’t be any change in goal, with Samir Handanovic out injured.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Padelli; Godin, de Vrij, Skriniar; Candreva, Barella, Brozovic, Young; Eriksen; Lukaku, Martinez
Sampdoria tasted a nasty 5-1 defeat to Fiorentina in their last game. Hence, coach Claudio Ranieri might look to employ a more defence-minded tactic in order to avoid yet another humiliation. That means we could potentially expect a 4-4-2 with two banks of four covering goalkeeper Emil Audero.
Ranieri will be forced to make one defensive change though, with Nicola Murru suspended. Tommaso Augello is expected to replace the 25-year-old at left-back while the opposite flank will be occupied by the ever-present figure of Bartosz Bereszynski.
Lorenzo Tonelli and Omar Colley are both guaranteed starters at the heart of the four-man backline. But, this time, they could receive additional defensive cover from the two midfielders in Albin Ekdal and Ronaldo Vieira, although Andrea Bertolacci is also an option.
Moving forward, Gaston Ramirez is suspended, which would be a huge blow for the visitors. And with Ranieri likely to switch to a 4-4-2 we could very well see Karol Linetty operating in a wide midfield slot, along with Fabio Depaoli.
And finally, the Sampdoria attack will be led by the offensive duo of Manolo Gabbiadini and Fabio Quagliarella, who is the club’s top scorer with seven goals this season.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Audero; Bereszynski, Tonelli, Colley, Augello; Depaoli, Ekdal, Vieira, Linetty; Quagliarella, Gabbiadini
- Inter have won each of their last five league games against Sampdoria; this is the longest current such run for the Nerazzurri against any team currently in Serie A.
- Inter lost their last league game against Lazio; no side coached by Antonio Conte has lost two league games in a row since March 2018, while in Serie A this hasn’t happened since December 2009 (Atalanta).
- Sampdoria won their last away game against Torino; manager Claudio Ranieri has not overseen two consecutive away win in Serie A since January 2012 with Inter.
- The only previous season in which Sampdoria gained 23 or fewer points after their first 24 games of a single Serie A season dates back to 1998-99, a season which ended with relegation for the Blucerchiati.
- Inter have scored 24 goals from new signings this season, at least six more than any other team while Sampdoria are level with Lazio as the two sides with fewest such goals (only one).
Player to Watch
Eriksen was one of the top performers for Inter Milan in their midweek win over Ludogorets as he scored the opener in the 71st minute. It was his first goal for his new club after he arrived at San Siro in the January transfer window.
And Inter fans will hope that it could serve as a confidence booster for the Dane as he seeks to kickstart his career at San Siro. Following his performance against Ludogorets, Eriksen is tipped to start against Sampdoria this weekend.
That makes him one of the players to look forward to in this fixture. Indeed, Eriksen’s ability to link-up with his teammates, coupled with his proficiency from set-pieces could cause problems for a Sampdoria defence which will likely operate in deep blocks.
Inter Milan 2-0 Sampdoria
A midweek win over Ludogorets should restore some confidence in the Inter Milan camp. And given Sampdoria’s struggles under Ranieri, we expect the Antonio Conte’s men to return to winning ways in Serie A with a comfortable 2-0 victory this weekend.