Inter Milan will be aiming to bounce back strongly after their midweek disappointment when they take on Sassuolo in the 2020/21 Serie A on Saturday.

Inter Milan will be under pressure to return to winning ways when they lock horns with a high-flying Sassuolo outfit at the Mapei Stadium this weekend in matchweek nine of the 2020/21 Serie A.

Sassuolo have made a brilliant start to the new season. Roberto De Zerbi’s side sits second in the league table, just two points below leaders AC Milan after eight games, having not lost a single league game so far. The Neroverdi defeated Verona 2-0 in their last game and will be aiming to build on that and move to the top of the table with a win.

Inter Milan, meanwhile, head into the game on the back of a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League. The Nerazzurri have won just one of their last six games in all competitions – a 4-2 triumph over Torino last weekend in Serie A, which saw them move to the fifth spot in the standings. A win on Saturday would see them move level on points with Sassuolo.

The corresponding fixture last season was a tightly-contested encounter, which ended 4-3 in favour of Inter Milan courtesy a brace from both Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku. Ahead of their latest meeting on Saturday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Sassuolo

Can Roberto De Zerbi lead Sassuolo to a win over Inter Milan? (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)

Can Roberto De Zerbi lead Sassuolo to a win over Inter Milan? (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)

The hosts will welcome back winger Federico Ricci, who has recovered from coronavirus. However, De Zerbi will be sweating over the availability of star striker Francesco Caputo, while fellow forward Gregoire Defrel will be unavailable for the clash, along with defender Filippo Romagna.

Sassuolo will set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation on Saturday with veteran goalkeeper Andrea Consigli lining up between the sticks. Mert Muldur should return to the starting XI at right-back at the expense of Jeremy Toljan, while Rogerio ought to continue on the opposite flank. Kaan Ayhan should also return at centre-back alongside Gian Marco Ferrari.

Manuel Locatelli is a certainty in the middle of the park for the Neroverdi. Alongside the Italian international, summer signing Maxime Lopez is expected to form the double pivot ahead of Pedro Obiang and Mehdi Bourabia. The creative onus will fall on the shoulders of Filip Djuricic, who will slot in as the No. 10.

Domenico Berardi and Jeremie Boga, both of whom were on the scoresheet against Verona last week, are certainties on the wings. With Caputo’s involvement uncertain, Giacomo Raspadori should once again start as the lone striker for Sassuolo against Inter Milan.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Consigli; Muldur, Ayhan, Ferrari, Rogerio; Lopez, Locatelli; Berardi, Djuricic, Boga; Raspadori

Inter Milan

Christian Eriksen could start for Inter, despite the uncertainty surrounding his future (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Christian Eriksen could start for Inter, despite the uncertainty surrounding his future (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Inter Milan will once again be without the injured duo of Matias Vecino and Andrea Pinamonti, while Marcelo Brozovic and Aleksandar Kolarov miss out due to coronavirus. Stefano Sensi made his return from injury in midweek, appearing as a substitute against Real Madrid, but might not be fit enough to start on Saturday.

No changes are expected in formation and tactics from Conte, who will set his Inter Milan side up in a 3-4-1-2 shape in front of captain Samir Handanovic in goal. The three-man defensive unit of Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni is unlikely to be tinkered with by the manager.

There should be alterations in the wing-back slots though, with Matteo Darmian and Ivan Perisic in line to replace Achraf Hakimi and Ashley Young respectively.

With Brozovic unavailable, Roberto Gagliardini should be in line for another start. Arturo Vidal, who will be suspended for Tuesday’s Champions League clash after being sent off against Real Madrid, ought to be retained too. Nicolo Barella has looked in dire need of a rest and could make way for Christian Eriksen in the creative midfield role.

Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku should once again form the strike partnership for the Nerazzurrwith Alexis Sanchez providing an option from the bench.

Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Darmian, Gagliardini, Vidal, Perisic; Eriksen; Lukaku, Martinez

Key Stats

  • Inter Milan have lost seven matches against Sassuolo in the Serie A since 2015. Against no other club have they lost more times in the league in that period (also seven against Juventus).
  • Sassuolo are one of the only three teams unbeaten in the Serie A so far in the new season, along with leaders AC Milan and reigning champions Juventus. Only once in their history have the Neroverdi gone on a longer unbeaten streak in the top-flight (11 between May and September 2015).
  • After having lost four in a row to Sassuolo in Serie A, Inter Milan have not lost any of their previous three meetings against the Neroverdi (W1 D2).
  • There hasn’t been a single drawn game between Sassuolo and Inter Milan at the Mapei Stadium in Serie A. The hosts have won four, while the visitors have picked up three wins.
  • Inter Milan have won 15 of their 23 away games in the Italian top-flight under Antonio Conte, more than any other side since the start of the last season.

Player to Watch

Domenico Berardi

Man in form (Photo by Enrico Locci/Getty Images)

Man in form (Photo by Enrico Locci/Getty Images)

The 25-year-old forward has been in very good form, playing a pivotal role in Sassuolo’s impressive start to the season. In seven games so far this term, Berardi has scored seven goals and set up three more. He was on target in the Neroverdi’s win against Verona last weekend.

Berardi is the only player in Serie A who is in double figures for goals and assists in this calendar year. Only Lionel Messi, Bruno Fernandes and Thomas Muller have achieved this feat across the top five leagues in 2020. In addition, the Italian has scored in six of his last nine appearances against Inter Milan. He will certainly pose a major threat to Conte’s side on Saturday.

Prediction

Sassuolo 2-1 Inter Milan

Sassuolo have made a flying start to the new season, with the Neroverdi not losing even one of their eight league games so far. Naturally, the morale within the squad will be sky high. In contrast, Inter Milan’s confidence will be shot after the defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League. Nevertheless, Conte’s side have been quite formidable in the domestic competition.

Sassuolo and Inter Milan have scored the most number of goals in Serie A this season (20), so we can expect an entertaining game at the Mapei Stadium. However, the hosts boast one of the best defensive records this season and have kept three clean sheets in a row, and they might just be able to stifle the Nerazzurri forwards, who looked rather toothless in midweek.

Thus, considering all factors, The Hard Tackle is predicting Inter Milan to fall to another defeat this weekend, increasing the pressure on manager Conte, while Sassuolo extend their unbeaten start to the campaign.

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