Newly-crowned Serie A champions Inter Milan will hope to celebrate their coronation with a win when they face off against Sampdoria this weekend.

Inter Milan ended their eleven-year wait for the Serie A title last week, bringing an end to Juventus’s dominance in the Italian top-flight. They will now be hoping to end the season on a high, winning their remaining four matches, starting from this weekend, when they take on Sampdoria at San Siro on Saturday evening.

It has been a memorable campaign for Inter Milan, even though they crashed out of Europe quite early. Near infallible in the league, Antonio Conte’s men have not lost a game in Serie A since January, with their 2-0 win over Crotone last time out making it eighteen games unbeaten in the competition, and the Nerazzurri will be intent on extending that streak this week.

Sampdoria, meanwhile, have been in decent touch of late, having won three of their last four games, with their most recent outing ending in a 2-0 win over UEFA Europa League semi-finalists AS Roma. This has seen the Blucerchiati rise to ninth spot in the table and they look well-positioned to end the campaign in the top half of the table, with 11th-placed Udinese six points shy.

The reverse fixture saw Sampdoria beat Inter Milan 2-1 courtesy of first half goals from Antonio Candreva and Keita Balde Diao while Stefan de Vrij scored a consolation for the champions. It was the last time Conte’s side lost a game in the league and ahead of their latest meeting this Saturday at San Siro, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Inter Milan

Heading into the game, Inter Milan manager Antonio Conte is likely to be without the services of just two players, with veteran stars Arturo Vidal and Aleksandar Kolarov set to miss out with injuries. Having secured the title, the manager could now think of giving some of his non-regular players a run-out in the final few matches of the season.

There is no looking past captain Samir Handanovic between the sticks for the Nerazzurri, however. There could be a couple of alterations in defence, though, with Danilo D’Ambrosio and Andrea Ranocchia in line for rare starts ahead of the ever-present figures of Milan Skriniar and Stefan de Vrij. Alessandro Bastoni, however, is likely to hold on to his place on the left-side of the three-man backline.

Moving into the middle of the park, Marcelo Brozovic and Nicolo Barella, who have been constant fixtures in the side, may be given some respite, with the duo likely to be replaced by Roberto Gagliardini and the fit-again Matias Vecino, with Christian Eriksen set to hold on to the third midfield slot and essay the deep-lying playmaker role for the home team.

The creative onus will yet again be on the wing-back duo of Achraf Hakimi and Ashley Young, who will look to charge forward constantly and supply crosses for star striker Romelu Lukaku and his former Manchester United teammate, Alexis Sanchez. Lautaro Martinez will be an option from the bench for Inter.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Ranocchia, Bastoni; Hakimi, Vecino, Eriksen, Gagliardini, Young; Lukaku, Sanchez

Sampdoria

Unlike their opponents this weekend, Sampdoria have no absentees due to injuries or suspension whatsoever ahead of their trip to Milan. Manager Claudio Ranieri will have his full set of players to pick from as he lines up his team in a 4-4-2 formation, hoping to frustrate their hosts before picking them off on the break.

Emil Audero will be the last line of defence, standing in goal for Sampdoria, shielded by the back four comprising of Bartosz Bereszynski, Lorenzo Tonelli, Omar Colley and Tomasso Augello. The full-backs, Bereszynski and Augello, are unlikely to venture forward a great deal and will instead stay close and tight alongside the two centre-backs to deny Inter any spaces to work with.

Morten Thorsby and Albin Ekdal will be the two men holding the fort in the middle of the park. The central midfield duo will largely sit deep and play behind the ball, with their primary duty being to screen the defence while playing passes for the wide midfielders, who ought to be Antonio Candreva and Jakub Jankto, in behind the Inter Milan wing-backs.

Candreva and Jankto will be Sampdoria’s primary attacking outlets while also carrying a goal threat from the flanks. Mikkel Damsgaard, who has courted interest from a few Premier League clubs, is also an option for Ranieri. At the top, there is likely to be a change, with veteran forward Fabio Quagliarella likely to return to the side at the expense of Valerio Verre, partnering Manolo Gabbiadini.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Audero; Bereszynski, Tonelli, Colley, Augello; Candreva, Thorsby, Ekdal, Jankto; Quagliarella, Gabbiadini

Key Stats

  • Inter Milan have won their last 13 home matches in Serie A. They could win 14 in a row for the first time in the club’s history.
  • Sampdoria could win both their league games in a single season against Inter Milan for just the third time after 1990/91 and 2016/17.
  • Inter Milan have won six of their last seven home games against Sampdoria across all competitions.
  • The last draw between Inter Milan and Sampdoria came back in October 2015. Since then, the Nerazzurri have won seven times while the Blucerchiati have picked up three victories.
  • Inter Milan have kept a clean sheet in six of their last eight Serie A matches on their home ground.

Player to Watch

Romelu Lukaku

The Belgian marksman has been one of the chief driving forces behind Inter Milan’s Scudetto success this season, with 21 goals and 9 assists in 33 games. Now that he has helped the team achieve its objective, Lukaku will turn his sights towards the race for the Capocannonniere. 

The former Manchester United superstar is trailing another ex-Red Devil, Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus, by six goals on the Serie A goalscoring charts for the 2020/21 campaign. With just four games left to be played, that might seem a tall order. But the Inter Milan forward has been in red-hot form this term and with Juventus and Ronaldo being inconsistent of late, there is a still a chance that Lukaku could catch up. Big game awaits.

Prediction

Inter Milan 2-0 Sampdoria

Sampdoria are in a good nick at the moment following their impressive win over AS Roma. And with Inter Milan expected to make a few changes to the side, they will back themselves to come away with a positive result. However, the Nerazzurri have not lost in five months in the league and have time and again shown how tough they can be to break down.

Indeed, Antonio Conte’s men boast the best defensive record in Serie A and are the second-best attacking team as well. Throw in their impressive run of form at home, and it is hard to see this game go any other way but a victory for the newly-crowned champions.

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