Inter Milan will be looking to extend their ten-game unbeaten run in the Serie A when they lock horns with a struggling Crotone outfit this weekend.

Inter Milan will be aiming to kick-start the New Year on a winning note when they play hosts to relegation-threatened Crotone at San Siro in Matchweek 15 of the 2020/21 Serie A on Sunday afternoon.

Despite their disappointment in Europe, Inter Milan have been a force to be reckoned with the in Italian top-flight. The Nerazzurri have not lost any of their last 10 league games, winning eight of those, including their most recent match against Verona. With Inter just a point below leaders AC Milan, a win on Sunday could see them overtake their neighbours, even if it may be temporary.

Crotone are dawdling at the opposite end of the table after being promoted to Serie A for the 2020/21 season. Having won only two games so far, Giovanni Stroppa’s men have just 9 points from 14 games and are in the 19th place. Although, one of their two wins came in the last game against Parma. However, going to San Siro, they will face a daunting challenge this weekend.

The last time Inter Milan and Crotone clashed in the Serie A at San Siro was in February 2018, with the game ending in a 1-1 draw. Ahead of their latest meeting on Sunday afternoon, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Inter Milan

Matias Vecino unavailable for Inter Milan (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Matias Vecino unavailable for Inter Milan (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Heading into the game, manager Antonio Conte has not been dealt with any fresh injury concerns. On Sunday, the Inter Milan boss is likely to be without just two players, with Matias Vecino and Andrea Pinamonti still recovering from their injuries.

Having set up his team in a slightly different 3-4-2-1 formation against Verona last time out, Conte should revert to his preferred 3-5-2 shape when Crotone come visiting. Club captain Samir Handanovic is the undisputed starter between the sticks, while Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni will form the three-man backine.

Achraf Hakimi, who impressed against Verona, ought to get the nod over Matteo Darmian at right wing-back, while senior pro Ashley Young should hold on to his spot on the left flank. They will be flanking the central midfield trio of Nicolo Barella, Marcelo Brozovic and Arturo Vidal, who should start on Sunday after making a substitute appearance last time out.

Lautaro Martinez ended his dry spell in front of goals when he scored in the win over Hellas Verona. The Argentine will be looking to build on that on Sunday, with in-form striker Romelu Lukaku partnering him in the attack against Crotone.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Barella, Brozovic, Vidal, Young; Lukaku, Martinez

Crotone

Like his counterpart in the Inter Milan dugout, Giovanni Stroppa will also be without just two players for the trip to San Siro. Luca Cigarini and Ahmad Benali are nursing calf injuries and will be unavailable for selection on Sunday afternoon.

Crotone, too, will line up in a 3-5-2 formation, mirroring their hosts’ tactical setup, with club captain Alex Cordaz manning the goal. The 38-year-old custodian will be shielded by the back three of Lisandro Magallan, Sebastiano Luperto and Vladimir Golemic, although Giuseppe Cuomo is also an option for the manager.

Pedro Pereira and Arkadiusz Reca ought to be the two wing-backs on the right and left sides, respectively and will be in charge of providing the width during the attacking phases.

Niccolo Zanellato will look to sit deep in the middle of the park and break up Inter Milan’s build-up play, with support coming from fellow midfielders Milos Vulic and Salvatore Molina, who will likely push forward when his team is in possession.

Top scorer for the season, Junior Messias, is a certainty to feature in the two-pronged strike force. The Brazilian is likely to be paired up with Simy, who has four league goals this term. Emmanuel Riviere is also an option at Stroppa’s disposal.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Cordaz; Magallan, Golemic, Luperto; Pereira, Molina, Zanellato, Vulic, Reca; Messias, Simy

Key Stats

  • Inter Milan have found the back of the net in each of their four Serie A meetings against Crotone, scoring seven times (W2 D1 L1).
  • The Nerazzurri are unbeaten against newly-promoted sides since September 2018, having won 11 and drawn two such games.
  • Crotone are without a win in their last seven away matches in Serie A.
  • Inter Milan are undefeated in their two league games against Crotone at home in the Serie A (W1 D1).
  • Crotone have scored the joint-lowest number of goals in the Serie A this season (13). Inter Milan, meanwhile, are the team with the most goals scored this term (34).

Player to Watch

Romelu Lukaku

Man in form. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Man in form. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

The in-form man for Inter Milan, Romelu Lukaku has carried on from where he left off last season and has already plundered 15 goals and set up two more in just 18 appearances in all competitions. His tally of 11 goals in 13 Serie A matches for the season is the second-best in the competition, with only Cristiano Ronaldo (12) scoring more.

Lukaku failed to find the back of the net in the win against Verona but had scored in each of his four league appearances prior to that. For Inter to remain in contention for the title, they will need the Belgian to continue delivering the goods in front of goal and a strong performance in the first game of the New Year should set the tone for the second half of the campaign.

Prediction

Inter Milan 2-0 Crotone

Crotone picked up just their second win of the season in their last fixture which will have filled them with confidence. However, a game against Inter Milan from home is too big a mountain for them to scale. The Nerazzurri have been mighty impressive in Serie A, and are currently on a ten-game unbeaten run.

With Romelu Lukaku in form and Lautaro Martinez also back among the goals, Crotone could be in for a difficult outing on Sunday afternoon. The Hard Tackle expects Antonio Conte & co. to pick up a straightforward victory to go to the top of the table, at least until AC Milan’s fixture against Benevento later in the day.

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