Inter Milan will be hoping to move to the top of the Serie A table when they lock horns with Atalanta at San Siro on Saturday evening.

Inter Milan will be aiming to extend their unbeaten start to the 2021/22 Serie A campaign when they face off against top-four hopefuls Atalanta at San Siro in Matchweek Six this weekend.

Despite all the shakeup during the summer and the uncertainty that was created because of it, Inter Milan have managed to begin the defence of their Scudetto on solid footing under new boss Simone Inzaghi, with four wins in five games (D1), which sees them sit second in the table, two points below leaders Napoli, who have a 100% record.

Inter Milan head into the game on the back of two consecutive big wings against Bologna and Fiorentina and will be looking to carry that momentum and get all three points on Saturday. However, in Atalanta, they will be facing one of their toughest challenges of the new season until this point.

Atalanta haven’t made the most ideal of starts to the season, having gone three games without a win in all competitions after beginning the campaign with a victory. However, Gian Piero Gasperini’s men seem to have quickly corrected their course, having picked up back-to-back wins over Salernitana and Sassuolo, which has allowed them to rise to fifth place in the standings, five points off the top.

The corresponding fixture last season had ended in a 1-0 victory for Inter Milan, with Milan Skriniar scoring the winning goal in the second period. Ahead of their latest meeting on Saturday at San Siro, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Inter Milan

Inter Milan will once again be without the services of Stefano Sensi, Arturo Vidal and Christian Eriksen for the game. Summer signing Joaquin Correa was a major doubt for the contest due to a pelvic injury he picked up against Bologna. However, he trained with the squad on Friday and may be able to play some part when Atalanta come visiting.

Simone Inzaghi will set his team up in a 3-5-2 formation on Saturday evening with club captain Samir Handanovic taking his rightful place between the sticks. Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni are the undisputed starters in the three-man defensive unit as they look to stop the threat of Duvan Zapata.

Out wide, Denzel Dumfries ought to replace Matteo Darmian at right wing-back despite the Italian scoring a goal against Fiorentina. The Dutchman’s pace will be key to keeping a lid on the dangerous Robin Gosens. Ivan Perisic, who was also on target in the last game, is likely to be given another run-out, though, ahead of Federico Dimarco by manager Inzaghi.

The three-man midfield unit pretty much picks itself with Marcelo Brozovic slotting in as the anchor, flanked by Nicolo Barella and Hakan Calhanoglu, who provide the energy and the creative essence on the pitch for the Nerazzurri.

Up top, with Correa only returning to training recently, veteran striker Edin Dzeko becomes the automatic pick to start alongside star hitman Lautaro Martinez. Alexis Sanchez will provide added threat from the bench.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Perisic; Martinez, Dzeko

Atalanta

Atalanta, meanwhile, will have to make do without ace goalscorer Luis Muriel for their trip to Lombardy while right-back Hans Hateboer is also ruled out. Manager Gian Piero Gasperini will be boosted by the return to full fitness of Matteo Pessina, who was dealing with a foot issue, with the Italian international in contention to feature from kickoff at San Siro.

Atalanta will line up in a 3-4-1-2 formation against the reigning champions of Italy with new signing Juan Musso manning the goal. Rafael Toloi, Jose Luis Palomino and Berat Djimsiti are expected to form the three-man defensive wall that will shield him against the Inter Milan forwards, although summer arrival Merih Demiral is also an option for Gasperini.

With Hateboer unavailable, Davide Zappacosta, who impressed in the last game, ought to get the nod at right wing-back ahead of Joakim Maehle. There is absolutely no looking past the dangerous Robin Gosens on the opposite flank, with the German international, who has been linked to Barcelona, likely to carry a major attacking threat with his constant forward forays.

Remo Freuler, who did not feature from the start in the last game, ought to return to the lineup, replacing Teun Koopmeiners. The Switzerland international will form the double pivot alongside Marten de Roon and look to negate the influence of Barella and Calhanoglu. The fit-again Pessina ought to take over the creative mantle, lining up as the lone attacking midfielder.

Up top, star striker Duvan Zapata is a certain starter and will essay the role of a target man for Atalanta. Partnering him should be Ruslan Malinovskyi, who will be given a more free role to drift across spaces and try to cause problems to the Inter Milan defence.

Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Musso; Toloi, Palomino, Djimsiti; Zappacosta, de Roon, Freuler, Gosens; Pessina; Zapata, Malinovskyi

Key Stats

  • This will be the 121st Serie A match between Inter Milan and Atalanta. The former have won 64 of the previous 120 meetings while the latter have 24 victories (D32).
  • Inter Milan have lost just one of their last nine Serie A games against Atalanta (W4 D4), and have kept a clean sheet in five of these matches.
  • Atalanta have lost five of their last seven away games against Inter Milan in Serie A.
  • Inter Milan have won more home league games in 2021 than any other side in Europe’s top five leagues (14), scoring  46 goals in those victories.
  • Stefan de Vrij could make his 100th Serie A appearance for Inter Milan should he feature on Saturday.

Player to Watch

Edin Dzeko

Brought in late in the summer to fill the gap left behind by the departure of Romelu Lukaku, Edin Dzeko may not exactly be the same type of striker as the Belgian was, but has ensured that the goals have kept flowing for Inter Milan. At 35, the former Manchester City and AS Roma man continues to be one of the best strikers in Serie A and has proven just that with his fine start to life in Milan.

Indeed, in just five league games so far, Dzeko has already found the back of the net four times and has assisted a goal as well. He is currently the joint-second highest goalscorer in Serie A, only behind Lazio’s Ciro Immobile (6). The veteran marksman has displayed signs of a budding partnership with Lautaro Martinez, which also bodes very well for Simone Inzaghi and Inter Milan.

Prediction

Inter Milan 2-1 Atalanta

Inter Milan did not start particularly well against Fiorentina last time out but recovered in fine fashion to get over the line. They have shown the strength and determination to get out of difficult situations this season and will back themselves to do so again when they take the field on Saturday.

Atalanta, meanwhile, seem to have gotten back on track after some disappointing results and looked close to their best in the first half against Sassuolo last time out. However, there are some defensive holes that remain within the side, which the Nerazzurri are more than capable of exploiting.

It promises to be a tightly-contested encounter at San Siro, but the form of Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez should give the champions a slender advantage. The Hard Tackle is predicting a narrow win for the Nerazzurri on Saturday.

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