Defending champions Inter Milan will be looking to keep their good run of form going against Venezia and stay within touching distance of the top of the table.

Defending champions Inter Milan are in high spirits following a sensational week of results that extended their unbeaten run to eight games in all competitions. Simone Inzaghi’s side defeated table-toppers Napoli last week, finally, bringing their unbeaten start to the season to an end. This also brought them to within a touching distance of the top of the Serie A table.

The Nerazzurri also put in a professional performance in the midweek UEFA Champions League fixture against Shakhtar Donetsk. A double strike by Edin Dzeko saw them book a spot in the Round of 16 for the first time since 2011/12.

With a hectic December schedule set to come, it is imperative that Inter keep adding points on the board with each coming game. A series of good wins helps ensure momentum and the Italians will be keen to continue the rich vein of form when they take on Venezia.

Paolo Zanetti’s side have won just four of their 15 games this season and are currently in the 14th position. They won their last game against Bologna and will be keen to cause an upset at the Pier Luigi Penzo Stadium on Saturday. A win will help put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone.

Venezia’s come-from-behind win over AS Roma before the international break showed that they are no pushovers. While Inter may go into the game as favourites, their opponents could cause a shock on the night should the visitors appear complacent. It promises to be an interesting game at the Pier Luigi Penzo.

The Hard Tackle now takes a look at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.

Venezia

Zanetti’s side will be without Tyronne Ebuehi, Luca Fiordilino, and Michael Svoboda. Slovenian midfielder Domen Crnigoj is also a doubt for the game. They have an otherwise fully-fit squad to choose from and will be hoping to put on a show in front of their home crowd.

Venezia are experiencing a mini-revival of sorts after winning their last two Serie A games on the trot. While the chances of extending that run against Inter look unlikely, it is not impossible either. Zanetti appears set to use his 4-3-3 system at home against the defending champions. The flexibility offered by the setup could help him curtail’s Inter’s quality on the ball and call upon the strength of numbers when needed.

Argentine veteran Sergio Romero is enjoying life in Serie A and looks set to keep his position in goal. He will be protected by the back four of Pasquale Mazzocchi, Mattia Caldara, Pietro Ceccaroni and  Ridgeciano Haps. Mazzochi and Haps will need to be at the top of their game to prevent Denzel Dumfries and Ivan Perisic from seizing the initiative on the flanks.

The midfield three could consist of Gianluca Busio, Antonio Junior Vacca and Chelsea loanee Ethan Ampadu. The onus will be on them to blunt the dominant Marcelo Brozovic whose presence in the middle of the park sets the stage for Inter to play their game.

The trio of Mattia Aramu, David Okereke and Dennis Johnsen will be tasked with testing the Inter backline that has more often than not looked solid. Aramu’s ability to drop into midfield and pick openings for those in front of him could be a difference-maker on the night.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Romero; Mazzocchi, Caldara, Ceccaroni, Haps; Ampadu, Vacca, Busio; Aramu, Okereke, Johnsen

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Inter Milan

Inter, meanwhile, will be without young Brazilian goalkeeper Gabriel Brazao. Not that it would have much difference given that Samir Handanovic is a certain starter in goal. The Nerazzurri are also sweating on the fitness of Alexis Sanchez and Stefan de Vrij.

Given the latter’s condition, Italian veteran Andrea Ranocchia looks set to start at the heart of the Inter defence in the Dutchman’s stead. He will form a part of the Inzaghi’s back three in his famed 3-5-2 setup. The tactical flexibility it offers the Inter boss makes it a worthwhile formation to use on a consistent basis.

Milan Skriniar and Alessandro Bastoni are expected to keep their place in the starting lineup on either side of Ranocchia. Fatigue was visible on the faces of some of Inter’s regulars in the match against Shakhtar Donetsk. This could lead to Inzaghi making a few changes in the middle of the park.

Arturo Vidal, Denzel Dumfries and Federico Dimarco all look set to return to the starting lineup. Doing so should give the likes of Nicolo Barella, Matteo Darmian and Ivan Perisic some much-needed rest.

Given Joaquin Correa’s struggles, it would not be unreasonable to expect Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko to continue upfront. The Argentine was taken off in the match against Shakhtar with perhaps an eye on this tie.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, Ranocchia, Bastoni; Dumfries, Vidal, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Dimarco; Dzeko, Martinez

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Key Stats

  • Venezia have won twice against Inter Milan since three points were introduced for a win. They have defeated only Fiorentina (four) and Cagliari (three) more times in this era.
  • Venezia have also defeated Inter Milan five times at home in the top flight. They have only defeated Fiorentina (eight) and Lazio (six) more times in a similar scenario.
  • Inter Milan are unbeaten in games succeeding a European tie since March 2020.
  • Venezia have not won three  Serie A games on the trot since 1962.
  • Inter Milan are the third-highest goalscorers in Europe, only trailing Bayern Munich and Liverpool in Europe’s top five leagues.

Player to Watch

Marcelo Brozovic

TURIN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 05: Marcelo Brozovic of FC Internazionale in action during the Serie A match between Juventus FC and FC Internazionale at Juventus Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

The key man for Inter Milan. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

The Croatian might be in the final months of his contract at the San Siro but continues to keep making a case for himself on the field. Brozovic’s ability to win the battle in midfield acts as an impetus for Inzaghi’s side to play their natural game.

A regular for the Nerazzurri whenever fit, Brozovic will once again be called upon to make the difference in the middle of the park. His ability to retain possession while also make slick forward passes helps kickstart attacks. He did exactly that against Shakhtar and looks set to repeat the trick this weekend.

Brozovic’s presence will see the likes of Hakan Calhanoglu freed up to make forays forward. More often than not, the Croatian’s performances are usually tied with how Inter Milan play on the day.

Prediction

Venezia 0-2 Inter Milan

While both sides go into the game in high spirits, Inter Milan have the superior squad and appear to be coming into their elements at just the right time. Inzaghi’s side have shown both intent and professionalism in their recent run of games and will hope to put together a series of positive results.

The win over Napoli opened the door for the defending champions to close the gap on Napoli. The onus will now be on them to continue winning their games and keep within touching distance of the Serie A summit. Inter are currently unbeaten in their last eight games in all competitions. As long as they turn up, there is little reason to believe the run won’t extend to nine.

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