Inter Milan will be aiming to keep up the pressure on leaders AC Milan when they lock horns with Benevento at San Siro this weekend in the Serie A.

Matchday 20 of the 2020/21 Serie A takes place this week and Inter Milan will be in action on Sunday night when they play hosts to newly-promoted Benevento, as they look to keep up the pace with league leaders AC Milan.

Inter Milan are currently second in the league table, two points below their neighbours. With the Rossoneri set to play Bologna earlier in the day, Antonio Conte’s men, who are five games unbeaten in all competitions and beat Milan 2-1 in the Coppa Italia earlier this week, can potentially go to the top if the result goes their way and they come out on top at San Siro.

Benevento, meanwhile, are 11th in the standings, with 22 points from 19 games. Filippo Inzaghi’s side have won just one of their last five games and head into Saturday’s clash on the back of a 2-2 draw against Torino. But they have had positive results against the likes of Juventus and Lazio this term and will look to draw confidence from those when they take on the Nerazzurri.

The reverse fixture between the two teams, played in September last year, saw Inter Milan emerge 5-2 winners with goals coming from Romelu Lukaku (2), Roberto Gagliardini, Achraf Hakimi and Lautaro Martinez, while Gianluca Caprari scored both Benevento’s goals. Ahead of their latest meeting on Saturday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Inter Milan

Antonio Conte does not have many injury problems to deal with (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)

Antonio Conte does not have many injury problems to deal with (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)

Inter Milan have no major injury concerns heading into the game with Danilo D’Ambrosio the only player that will not be at Antonio Conte’s disposal on Saturday. Having fielded a strong side in the cup tie in midweek, the Nerazzurri manager might look to make some tweaks to the lineup against Benevento.

In goal, there is no looking past club captain Samir Handanovic. However, there could be a couple of alterations in the three-man defensive unit, with Alessandro Bastoni returning in place of Aleksandar Kolarov while Andrea Ranocchia could get a rare start with Stefan de Vrij being given a breather. Milan Skriniar will retain his place in the side.

With Inter likely to dominate possession on the night, the three centre-halves, Skriniar in particular, will need to be crisp with their distribution to help build play from the back. Achraf Hakimi and Ashley Young should return as the two wing-backs and will have the onus of pushing forward and hitting in crosses for the attackers to capitalise on.

Nicolo Barella is an integral member of the team with the industry he brings to the table. The Italian international should start on Saturday, but Roberto Gagliardini could get a start in place of Arturo Vidal. Christian Eriksen, who scored the late winner against Milan in midweek, ought to get the nod as the regista, with the Dane given the responsibility of dictating the game from the deep-midfield role.

Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez ought to form the strike partnership up top for the hosts with the latter replacing Alexis Sanchez, who is being linked with a transfer to AS Roma.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, Ranocchia, Bastoni; Hakimi, Barella, Eriksen, Gagliardini, Young; Lukaku, Martinez

Benevento

Like his counterpart in the opposition dugout, Benevento boss Filippo Inzaghi also does not have many injury concerns ahead of the trip to Lombardy, with Gaetano Letizia missing out while Marco Sau is suspended for the trip. New signing Fabio Depaoli has been included in the 24-man travelling squad.

Inzaghi opted to switch to a three-man backline in the last game against Torino last time out. But, he is likely to revert to his preferred 4-3-2-1 ‘Christmas Tree’ formation against Inter Milan, putting men behind the ball to try and stay solid and compact at the back.

Lorenzo Montipo will man the goal for the minnows, shielded by a backline comprising of Depaoli, Kamil Glik, Luca Caldirola and Federico Barba. Both the full-backs, Depaoli and Barba, are unlikely to push forward a great deal and look to offer protection against Inter Milan’s marauding wing-backs.

Perparim Hetemaj, Nicolas Viola and Artur Ionita ought to be the three central midfielders who will offer further protection to the defence while the attacking responsibilities will fall on the shoulders of Riccardo Improta and Gianluca Caprari, who found the back of the net twice in the reverse fixture.

Gianluca Lapadula, who scored in the last game against Torino, should spearhead the Benevento attack with Giuseppe De Serio an option from the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-3-2-1): Montipo; Depaoli, Glik, Caldirola, Barba; Hetemaj, Viola, Ionita; Improta, Caprari; Lapadula 

Key Stats

  • Inter Milan have won their last four matches against Benevento in all competitions.
  • Benevento have conceded at least two goals in their last three matches in Serie A.
  • Inter Milan have won their last 6 home matches in the Italian top-flight. The Nerazzurri have scored at least two goals in six of their last seven home matches.
  • Benevento have lost all of their three Serie A meetings against Inter Milan – their joint-highest tally alongside Napoli, Atalanta and AS Roma.
  • Inter Milan are the most prolific team in the Serie A this season, having scored 45 goals so far. In fact, only Bayern Munich (80) have scored more goals in the top five leagues in Europe than Inter Milan (77) since the restart of football post lockdown last year.

Player to Watch

Christian Eriksen

Embed from Getty Images

A year into his spell at Inter Milan, the Danish international has struggled to make the kind of impact that was expected of him. So much so that, Eriksen seemed to be headed for an exit in the ongoing transfer window. However, manager Antonio Conte ruled out a transfer and is set to hand the former Tottenham star a shot at redemption.

Having scored the crucial winning goal to eliminate AC Milan from Coppa Italia earlier in the week, the 28-year-old will be brimming with confidence. Set to be deployed in a deeper role than he is used to, it will be interesting to see how Eriksen adapts to the position.

It is no secret that he has the creative abilities and the range of distribution to open up the opposition backline, but can he cope with the defensive responsibilities that will come with the position? A big game beckons for the Danish international.

Prediction

Inter Milan 2-0 Benevento

The reverse fixture between the two sides was full of goals. However, that might not be the case on Saturday with Inter Milan having gotten much more solid at the back. At the other end, Romelu Lukaku has been in decent touch while the return of Lautaro Martinez in place of Alexis Sanchez should provide them with further firepower upfront. The Hard Tackle, thus, predicts a straightforward win for Antonio Conte & co.

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