Defending champions Inter Milan travel to the Mapei Stadium to take on Sassuolo in what could prove to be a tricky tie for the Nerazzurri.

Scudetto holders Inter Milan will put their unbeaten start to the season on the line against Sassuolo at the Mapei Stadium on Saturday.

Simone Inzaghi’s side have won four of their first six games this season and are currently two points behind Napoli in the Serie A standings. The Nerazzurri will look to put aside their frustration from the Champions League tie against Shakhtar Donetsk and return to winning ways on their home turf.

It was Inter’s second draw in a row following the entertaining 2-2 tie against Atalanta last week. With club football set to take a hiatus thanks to the international break, a win over Sassuolo will ensure morale remains high at the San Siro.

Inzaghi’s side has now scored two or more goals in their last 11 league games. Matching it this weekend will see the current side write themselves into the club history. In their path are Sassuolo who have won just two of their opening six games, losing three.

New manager Alessio Dionisi has not had the best of starts. However, he could send out a clear message should Sassuolo beat the defending champions on home turf. It might be just the catalyst the mid-table side needs to move forward.

While on paper Inter appear to be the heavy favourites, football is a fickle sport and Sassuolo have the ability to spring a surprise on their day. Whether that moment will arrive this weekend against Inter remains to be seen. We now take a look at how the teams will set up ahead of their clash.

Team News

Sassuolo

Defensive midfielder Pedro Obiang is the only notable absentee for the Neroverdi. Dionisi has gone with a 4-2-3-1 formation in all but one of his games in charge of the club this season. He is likely to once again embrace the familiar setup against Inter.

Andrea Consigli is sure to start in goal while the duo of Gian Marco Ferrari and Vlad Chiriches will form the centre-back pairing. Brazilian ace Rogerio and Turkish international Mert Muldur will be deployed on the flanks to complete the four-man defence.

The midfield duo of  Maxime Lopez and David Frattesi will be key on the night and can act as anchors in midfield. Just how well they can help shackle the Inter midfield could prove pivotal in how the game ends at full time.

It is upfront where Sassuolo truly shine. The trio of Domenico Berardi, Jeremie Boga and Giacomo Raspadori have the potential to be a fearsome combination. Against Inter they can put themselves to the test. Add Filip Djuricic into the mix and the Neroverdi have the tools to punish Inter.

Djuricic could prove the key player on the night as he will try to orchestrate the movement of the front three. A composer who orchestrates a beautiful melody, Inter can shackle the Sassuolo attack to a large extent if they can keep the Serbian quiet.

Sassuolo have shown themselves to be susceptible on the flanks and will need both Rogerio and Muldur to step up and put in a real performance on the night. It is not easy for a team to lose a player of Manuel Locatelli’s ability and carry on as if nothing happened. The stage is set for Dionisi and his men to show that they mean business and are the real deal.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Consigli; Muldur, Chiriches, Ferrari, Rogerio; Frattesi, Lopez; Berardi, Djuricic, Boga; Raspadori

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Inter Milan

The Italian giants lost a number of key players to bigger clubs in the summer. However, they remain firm title contenders and looks set to challenge Napoli and AC Milan among others to retain their championship.

The Nerazzurri will be without Stefano Sensi and potentially Arturo Vidal who is recovering from a thigh injury. Inzaghi looks set to make a number of changes to the side that drew against Shakhtar in Ukraine. Prominent amongst those to return will be Ivan Perisic and Hakan Calhanoglu. The duo’s return will give the side a boost in attack.

Sassuolo have shown themselves to be vulnerable on the flank and Inter will do well to take advantage of it.  This could play right into the hands of Perisic who, on his day, is devastating out wide. Inzaghi has the option of starting Denzel Dumfries on the right, further exploiting Sassuolo’s weakness out wide.

Arsenal bound? (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images )

Perisic could be key on the night. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images )

The wing-play will not just help apply pressure where needed but could also keep Berardi and Boga from moving too far forward and forcing them to double back to help their defence. The duo’s absence could very well see Raspadori isolated upfront while Djuricic could then be picked off by the Inter midfielders.

Inter look set to go into the game with a 3-5-2 system that makes use of a solid centre and unleashes the wing-backs on the flanks. Samir Handanovic is sure to start in goal while Milan Skriniar, Stefan De Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni will provide a strong rearguard. The trio will need to be alert in case Sassuolo’s front three get to their usual tricks.

The midfield duo of Nicolo Barella and Marcelo Brozovic can hold the fort in midfield, winning back possession and starting off attacks. The solidity of the five aforementioned outfield players could help Inter’s attackers to express themselves.

Perisic and Dumfries can wreak havoc down the flanks while Calhanoglu can also attack with purpose. With the mobile Lautaro Martinez and the towering Edin Dazko upfront, the Nerazzurri have two proven goalscorers who are lethal in the box. Inzaghi could opt to go with Joaquin Correa instead of Dzeko for the night. Even if he doesn’t it will give the Inter boss an excellent option to bring off the bench.

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

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Key Stats

  • Inter Milan have scored two or more goals in their last 11 Serie A games. Doing it for a 12th straight one will make it the first time in the club’s history.
  • Both clubs have faced off 17 times, with Sassuolo winning eight times. Inter have won seven games and could draw level with their rivals should they win on Saturday.
  • Domenico Berardi has scored six goals in 12 matches against the Nerazzurri. He has been on the winning side six times as well.
  • Inter Milan are unbeaten in their last five games against Sassuolo.
  • Inter Milan are only the second side to score 20+ goals in their first six games of a Serie A season in the 21st century after Napoli in 2017/18.

Player to Watch

Domenico Berardi

Berardi to Leicester City? (Photo by Enrico Locci/Getty Images)

Berardi to be the difference-maker?? (Photo by Enrico Locci/Getty Images)

The Italian international is Sassuolo’s biggest threat and is a tricky customer on his day. He has scored six times in 12 appearances against Inter Milan, also grabbing himself an assist. At 27, he is entering his prime and could once again prove to be a thorn in the Nerazzurri’s side. He has enjoyed a good start to the season as well, scoring twice and assisting once in four appearances.

His pace and guile could give the Inter Milan defence issues. This could prove to be the case if Ivan Perisic does not track back leaving Bastoni alone to deal with Berardi. It will not come as a surprise if the Italian international will be at the centre of everything Sassuolo do going forward.

Prediction

Sassuolo 1-2 Inter Milan

Inter on paper are clearly the better team and are in good form going into the match. Sassuolo have a promising young attack but are still finding their feet under new management. At this moment in time, the Nerazzuri’s quality should shine through. The Hard Tackle, thus, predicts a hard-fought win for the reigning champions getting them back on the winning ways.

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