Inter Milan are hoping to close in on the 2020/21 Serie A title as they take on Crotone at Stadio Ezio Scida on Saturday.

Inter Milan are on the verge of breaking Juventus’ hegemony over the Italian top-flight and secure their 19th Serie A title when they take on Crotone, at Stadio Ezio Scida on Saturday.

The Nerazzurri are sitting pretty at the top of the Serie A table with 79 points on the board. Securing three more this weekend will not mathematically ensure them the title, but it could give them an opportunity to secure the title by the end of the matchday, with second-placed Atalanta, who are 11 points behind, playing Sassuolo on Sunday.

Anything other than a win for La Dea could mathematically make it impossible for them to catch up Inter, thereby ensuring the crown for Antonio Conte’s men who have been in sublime form in the league since the turn of the year.

In Crotone, Inter face the worst-performing team in the division, sitting bottom of the league table with just 18 points. For their rivals, however, it could be a good sign as the minnows will have nothing to lose and will be playing for their pride, hoping to delay their opponent’s inevitable coronation.

Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this vital David vs Goliath showdown in Serie A this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Crotone

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Crotone have no choice but to defend in numbers up against an Inter Milan side that has netted 72 goals this season. Their new coach Serse Cosmi has continued to prefer the 3-5-2 formation, which will more or less operate as a five at the back with the wing-backs in Salvatore Molina and Arkadiusz Reca assuming defensive positions.

The onus, however, will be on the central defensive combination of Lisandro Magallan, Koffi Djidji and Vladimir Golemic to offer the resistance and soak up the pressure exerted by the opposition, as they look to prevent goalkeeper Alex Cordaz from having to do too much this weekend, as unlikely as that may sound.

In midfield, the combination of Niccolo Zanellato, Junior Messias and Luca Cigarini should form a solid second line of press that will primarily look to offer minimal spaces in between the lines – preventing Inter from work through the middle of the pitch.

And finally, in the offensive department, Crotone will be pinning their hopes on top scorer Simy, who has been the brightest spark in a dire campaign for the club.

His 19 goals have indeed served as a ray of hope for the hosts and the striker will be hoping to extend his tally, as he looks to spearhead the Crotone attack alongside the more technically astute figure of Adam Ounas.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Cordaz; Magallan, Djidji, Golemic; Molina, Zanellato, Messias, Cigarini, Reca; Ounas, Simy

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Inter Milan

Antonio Conte has absolutely no reason to make too many changes from that side that secured a win over Hellas Verona in the last game. With just two wins needed, he won’t be taking any chances, especially in the defensive unit.

As such, the tried and tested back three of Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni will remain the same, as they look to register a clean sheet against this lowly Crotone side.

There is room for change in the wing-back slots, particularly on the left hand side where Ivan Perisic might make way for either Matteo Darmian or Ashley Young while Achraf Hakimi is a guaranteed starter on the opposite flank.

The rest of the team should remain the same, with Marcelo Brozovic screening the back three in the holding midfield role, operating just behind Nicolo Barella and Christian Eriksen.

These two could be key for Inter, due to their ability to carry the ball across half spaces as well as their chance-creation as they look to provide the supply for the offensive duo of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Barella, Brozovic, Eriksen, Darmian; Lukaku, Martinez

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Key Stats

  • Inter have scored 13 goals in five games against Crotone in Serie A, an average of 2.6 per game – there have been three wins for the Nerazzurri, a draw and a Rossoblu win.
  • After winning against Parma on the last matchday, Crotone could achieve two consecutive Serie A wins for the first time since April 2018.
  • Crotone are the only team yet to draw a Serie A game in 2021: three wins and 16 defeats for the Rossoblu in this period.
  • Inter are undefeated in 17 Serie A games, their longest unbeaten streak in a single season in the competition since February 2008.
  • Crotone have lost their last three Serie A games at Scida and could record four home defeats in a row for the first time in the top-flight.

Player to Watch

Achraf Hakimi

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 28: Achraf Hakimi of Real Madrid CF takes to the field for the start of the Copa del Rey, Round of 32, Second Leg match between Real Madrid and Fuenlabrada at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on November 28, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Inter’s creator-in-chief. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Achraf Hakimi could once again emerge as the key player for Inter Milan as they look to brush aside Crotone, primarily because of the fact that the Rossoblu are set to deploy a deep defensive line that will make the job difficult for the regular creators like Eriksen and Barella, operating in the middle of the park.

Hakimi, in contrast, is a pacy runner and can be used as an auxiliary right-winger, giving Crotone an additional player to worry about in the final third. The 22-year-old has been involved in 13 goals in the league this term, and his crosses could be useful as the Moroccan international looks to find the likes of Lukaku and Martinez.

Prediction

Crotone 0-2 Inter Milan

Despite the sheer difference in the league table between the two sides, this game could be much tighter, largely due to Antonio Conte’s tactical approach that would emphasise on the clean sheet. Offensively, Inter’s fortunes will depend on how the likes of Lukaku and Hakimi fare in this encounter, but we do expect the Nerazzurri to seal a comfortable 2-0 victory this weekend.

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