Inter Milan resume their Serie A campaign on Sunday as they lock horns with table-toppers Napoli at the Giuseppe Meazza.
After playing out a goalless draw with AC Milan just before the international break, Inter Milan are set to lock horns with another high-flying Serie A giant when they welcome Napoli at Estadio Giuseppe Meazza on Sunday.
It could be a vital game for the defending champions of Italy if they are to catch up on the two frontrunners in Napoli and Milan. Both those teams have a healthy seven-point advantage over the Nerazzurri heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures.
Inter, though, will have the opportunity to bridge the gap to Napoli to just four points as they host Luciano Spalletti’s men on Sunday, although it could help their arch-rivals Milan move on top, potentially with a handsome three-point advantage over Napoli.
Inter are in good form heading into this game, having secured wins over Sheriff Tiraspol in the Champions League while holding off teams like Juventus and AC Milan. However, they haven’t quite replicated the aggression or the efficiency from last season under the leadership of new manager Simone Inzaghi.
As for Napoli, it has been an extraordinary start to the campaign, with 32 points collected in just 12 matches. The Partenopei would have been highly disappointed by their draw with Verona last time out, though, as it denied them the opportunity to extend their lead at the top to two points. The visitors are now running the risk of losing further points when they take on Inter in this vital clash that could go a long way in tilting the Serie A title race.
Team News & Tactics
Inter Milan have had a difficult international break, with Alessandro Bastoni, Edin Dzeko and Alexis Sanchez picking up knocks. In addition, Stefan de Vrij has been ruled out, with coach Simone Inzaghi recently confirming the involvement of Andrea Ranocchia in the Napoli game.
🔥 | TRAINING
Nerazzurri hard at it ahead of #InterNapoli! 📷
— Inter 🏆🇮🇹 (@Inter_en) November 18, 2021
The veteran centre-back will replace de Vrij at the heart of Inter’s three-man backline. Fortunately for Inter, Bastoni has recovered despite his knock, so the Italian international is set to partner Ranocchia and Milan Skriniar in defence, with Matteo Darmian and Ivan Perisic occupying the wing-back slots.
Perisic, in particular, could play a vital role in offering the width going forward for Inter Milan this weekend. His partnership with the left-sided advanced midfielder in Hakan Calhanoglu could be key to Inter’s chance-creation.
Marcelo Brozovic and Nicolo Barella are expected to accompany Calhanoglu in the middle of the park. The Turkish international has had a difficult time since joining from Milan in the summer, but he will have the opportunity to make an impact with his creative prowess and ability from set-pieces.
As for the attack, Dzeko’s knock means new signing Joaquin Correa is the favourite to partner Lautaro Martinez. Their speed and work ethic in the final third could go a long way in giving Inter some much-needed oomph in the final third.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, Ranocchia, Bastoni; Darmian, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Perisic; Correa, Martinez
Despite Inter deploying a three-man backline with two wing-backs, Napoli head coach Luciano Spalletti is unlikely to shift from his 4-2-3-1 setup, with the in-form Victor Osimhen spearheading the attack.
— Official SSC Napoli (@en_sscnapoli) November 20, 2021
The Nigerian international is set to be accompanied by a world-class creative unit led by captain Lorenzo Insigne. The Italian is expected to continue alongside Matteo Politano and Piotr Zielinski, thus forming Napoli’s creative trifecta. Spalletti does have the option of deploying the pacy Hirving Lozano if required, while the experienced Dries Mertens is a potential alternative for Osimhen or perhaps even Zielinski.
Speaking of the Pole, he is likely to operate in the number ten role. But it won’t be surprising to see him drop deeper during defensive phases and join the central midfielders in Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Fabian Ruiz. It could see Napoli turn into a situational 4-3-3, and the numerical advantage in the second line of press is often crucial in dealing with three Inter midfielders.
Defensively, Napoli are set to welcome Kalidou Koulibaly back from suspension. The Senegalese international should slot right into the central defensive role alongside Amir Rrahmani, while Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Mario Rui remain favourites to operate in the wide positions.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Koulibaly, Rui; Anguissa, Ruiz; Politano, Zielinski, Insigne; Osimhen
- Inter are unbeaten in their last four Serie A matches against Napoli (W3 D1) – the Partenopei‘s last win was back in May 2019.
- Napoli haven’t scored in their last four away Serie A games against Inter – they have never gone without a goal for five consecutive away league matches against the Nerazzurri.
- Inter are winless in their four league games this term against sides who finished in the top seven last season, drawing with Juventus, Milan and Atalanta while losing to Lazio.
- Napoli are unbeaten in their last 21 league games; their last defeat was back in April 2021 vs Juventus. They have registered a long streak without a defeat in Serie A only once before – 26 between March and November 2017.
- Luciano Spalletti was Inter’s manager for 76 Serie A matches between 2017 and 2019. The last time he faced the Nerazzurri at San Siro in the league, his team won (Inter – Roma 1-3 in February 2017).
Player to Watch
With top-scorer Edin Dzeko not fully fit heading into this encounter, there will be extra pressure on fellow summer signing Joaquin Correa to deliver the goods in the final third this weekend.
The former Lazio forward has struggled to establish himself as a first-team regular at Inter so far. But he does have four league goals to his name in just eight appearances. He notably scored a brace in the win over Udinese and will be hoping to replicate that performance against the league leaders on Sunday.
Correa’s dynamism in the final third could be useful for Inter as they look to take on the Napoli defence that will be reinforced by the return of Koulibably. So it will be interesting to see how the Argentine fares in this tricky encounter this weekend.
Inter Milan 1-1 Napoli
This game promises to be a closely-fought encounter as both sides boast strong teams that are capable of taking the game to one another. Napoli certainly have the edge due to their excellent form in the early parts of the campaign, but the Partenopei have started to fumble lately. Inter themselves haven’t been all that impressive against strong teams. As such, we are expecting a hard-fought affair, with the two sides likely to share the spoils.