Inter Milan lock horns with AS Roma at Stadio Olimpico on Sunday, hoping to once again dethrone arch-rivals AC Milan at the top of the Serie A table.
Inter Milan’s shock defeat to Sampdoria in midweek may turn out to be a vital moment in the club’s Serie A campaign this term. The loss not only allowed AC Milan to get away with their defeat to Juventus but now sees the Nerazzurri running the risk of losing further ground in the title race heading into this weekend’s run of fixtures.
Indeed, Antonio Conte’s men face a tough challenge against AS Roma on Sunday, knowing a defeat or a draw could open up the opportunity for Milan to extend their one-point lead at the club.
In contrast, the Rossoneri play relegation candidates Torino on Sunday, giving the league leaders the ideal opportunity to put more pressure on their cross-town rivals.
As for Roma, they are hoping to seal a win that would see them get level on points with Inter Milan. They are currently third in the league table, three points behind their weekend opponents. The Giallorossi thus need to secure all three points if they are to catch up with Inter while also maintaining their three-point lead over Juventus, who also have a game in hand.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this crucial encounter at Stadio Olimpico this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Paulo Fonseca is missing a bunch of his first-team players due to injury at the moment including Nicolo Zaniolo, Federico Fazio, Pedro and Javier Pastore. But on the bright side of things, the Portuguese tactician will be able to pick Edin Dzeko in the starting lineup while Jordan Veretout is also in contention to get a starting berth in the team this weekend.
Dzeko, in particular, may replace Borja Mayoral in the number nine slot. He will be supported by the two attacking midfielders in Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Lorenzo Pellegrini.
Veretout, meanwhile, could come into the side at the expense of Gonzalo Villar. He could, thus, renew his midfield partnership alongside captain Bryan Cristante while the two wing-backs in Rick Karsdorp and Leonardo Spinazzola complete the second line of press.
Alternatively, Fonseca could deploy Carles Perez alongside Mkhitaryan in an attacking role while starting with Pellegrini in central midfield alongside Cristante. But, it remains unlikely since Perez is not a first-choice option for the AS Roma head coach.
Finally, in the defensive unit, Chris Smalling may once again get the nod ahead of Marash Kumbulla as he continues to form the three-man backline alongside Roger Ibanez and Gianluca Mancini.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Lopez; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Cristante, Veretout, Spinazzola; Mkhitaryan, Pellegrini; Dzeko
Inter Milan boss Antonio Conte is likely to make a couple of alternations to his side following a disappointing showing against Sampdoria in midweek.
The most obvious change is the introduction of Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian international had failed to start in the last game due to lack of full fitness but is likely to come into the starting eleven this time around. He could thus renew his attacking partnership alongside Lautaro Martinez, with Alexis Sanchez dropping to the bench.
Another change could see Roberto Gagliardini being replaced by Arturo Vidal. Conte will be disappointed with his side’s performance in midfield, so the presence of the former Bayern Munich star alongside the likes of Marcelo Brozovic and Nicolo Barella could add some aggression and tenacity to their game.
Finally, we might potentially see Ivan Perisic getting the nod ahead of Ashley Young at left wing-back as the former Manchester United star has started in Inter’s last two matches. Achraf Hakimi, on the other hand, should retain his place on the side, ahead of Matteo Darmian this weekend.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Vidal, Brozovic, Barella, Perisic; Martinez, Lukaku
- Inter Milan and AS Roma have drawn each of their last five Serie A matches; the last time two teams have drawn more games in a row in consecutive seasons in the competition was in 1995.
- Matches between Roma and Inter have produced the most goals in Serie A history, 503 in 174 games; 224 for the Giallorossi and 279 for the Nerazzurri (a record for a team against a single opponent in the competition).
- Inter have won only one of their last 11 Serie A away games against Roma, winning 3-1 in August 2017 under Luciano Spalletti.
- Roma are unbeaten in their last 12 league home games, their longest streak since February 2017.
- Inter have lost their last league game after going unbeaten in their previous 11 matches; they have lost two games in a row in Serie A only once under Antonio Conte, losing vs Lazio and Juventus in February/March 2020.
Player to Watch
Following a setback in midweek, Romelu Lukaku remains Inter Millan’s best hope as they look to rekindle their winning form against AS Roma this weekend. The ex-Everton has the ability to provide that extra oomph that was missing in the final third against Sampdoria in the last game.
Lukaku’s return, therefore, could be instrumental should Inter succeed on Sunday. His physicality and work-rate, in particular, could unsettle for the Roma defence that has conceded more goals than any other side in the top seven so far this campaign. In addition, the Belgian international is also quite sharp in front of goal and rarely misses any scoring opportunity – making him the potential game-changer in this fixture.
AS Roma 2-2 Inter Milan
This could turn out to be a high scoring affair as Inter Milan have looked quite vulnerable at the back while Roma will be boosted by the return of a couple of star players. The two sides have failed to get the better of one another too often in the recent past and things are unlikely to change anytime soon. We are thus expecting a 2-2 draw at Stadio Olimpico this weekend.