Serie A champions Inter Milan will be looking to wrap up their 2021 on a positive note when they take on Torino on Wednesday.

The final matchday of 2021 in Serie A is set to get underway this midweek, with defending champions Inter Milan hoping to sign off for Christmas on a positive note. They are scheduled to take on Torino on Wednesday, a must-win encounter as they look to maintain or even extend their four lead at the top of the table.

Inter are by far the most in-form team in the division at the moment, having secured six back to back wins in the league. This recent run of victories has catapulted them into the top with 43 points, at least four ahead of the chasing pack, including AC Milan and Napoli.

However, any mishap against Torino could allow their arch-rivals to bridge the gap at the top. More importantly, it may serve as a vital confidence-booster heading into the second half of the campaign.

As for their midweek opponent, Torino, they have had a standard season so far. The Turin-based outfit is still learning their trade under new coach Ivan Juric, who replaced Davide Nicola in the summer. The former Genoa coach has done well to influence a fearless philosophy, but his team’s record of just one away win remains a concern.

Juric does not have the greatest of records against Inter either, having lost six times in eight matches. But with his team unbeaten in the last four league matches, Torino will be hoping that their momentum could be useful as they take on the reigning Italian champions this midweek.

Team News & Tactics

Inter Milan

Simone Inzaghi is missing a few key players heading into this clash, including Nicolo Barella. The influential midfielder is set to serve a one-game suspension due to the accumulation of too many yellows cards. He joins the injured Joaquin Correa in Inter’s list of absentees, but on a positive note, Matteo Darmian is back in contention after recovering from his thigh injury.

The former Manchester United defender is fit to start, but Inzaghi is unlikely to take any risks. As such, he may persist with the duo of Denzel Dumfries and Ivan Perisic in the two wing-back slots, as they look to play a vital role in the team’s creative outlet. Indeed, their marauding runs forward could go a long way in supplying the forwards in Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko.

In midfield, though, the absence of Barella could be a major blow for the home side. The Italian had shared an excellent understanding with the right sided wingback. But with him being ruled out, the onus will be on Roberto Gagliardini to offer the creative output in the advanced midfield positions, alongside Hakan Calhanoglu.

Marcelo Brozovic should hold the fort in midfield. His positioning sense, composure and ability to spread the ball around the park could go a long way in helping Inter Milan stay on top of the proceedings. More importantly, the Croat can offer vital cover for the defensive backline that has kept a remarkable seven back to back clean sheets.

The iconic combination of Alessandro Bastoni, Stefan de Vrij and Milan Skriniar has indeed done well. But they have their work cut out against the Torino frontline led by the unpredictable Antonio Sanabria.

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

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Torino

The injury to star player Andrea Belotti has affected Torino’s offensive firepower. But his deputy Antonio Sanabria has showcased good form lately, having been involved in two goals in the last two matches.

Sanabria will look to spearhead the Torino frontline, with the creative support of Marko Pjaca and Josip Brekalo, who may get the nod ahead of Dennis Praet due to his pace on the break that could trouble the Inter defence.

In midfield, the onus will be on Tommaso Pobega and Sasa Lukic to offer stability in the second line of press. Their main objective is to break up the rhythm of the Inter midfielders that like to combine in the middle third of the game.

But with Inter having a slight numerical superiority in midfield, it won’t be surprising to see Pjaca moving a bit deeper. Moreover, the wing-backs in Wilfried Singo and Ola Aina may have to keep track of the wide players in Denzel Dumfries and Ivan Perisic. It could be essential to Torino’s defensive game-plan, especially if they are to stop the supply for Edin Dzeko inside the box.

As for the defensive unit, Juric should persist with the tried and tested combination of Ricardo Rodriguez, Gleison Bremer and Koffi Djidji as they look to cover Vanja Milinkovic-Savic in goal and put an end to Inter’s free-scoring run.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Milinkovic-Savic; Rodriguez, Bremer, Djidji; Singo, Pobega, Lukic, Aina; Brekalo, Pjaca; Sanabria

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Key Stats

  • Inter Milan have won each of their last four Serie A matches against Torino, scoring at least two goals per game. Never in their top-flight history have the Nerazzurri scored more than one goal for five consecutive matches against the Granata.
  • Inter have won their last two Serie A home games against Torino after having gained two wins in their previous eight home games against the same opposition.
  • The last Serie A match played by Torino on a Wednesday was one of the three biggest defeats suffered by the Granata in their history in Serie A (0-7 against Milan last May); they have not lost two consecutive league games on this day of the week since 2015.
  • Inter have lost only one of their last 19 Serie A games played on Wednesday, going down 2-1 against Sampdoria in January last season.
  • Inter have won 18 home league games in 2021; only two teams in Serie A history have won more home games in a single calendar year: Juventus in 2016 (20) and Torino in 1948 (20).

Player to Watch

Lautaro Martinez

Tottenham Hotspur have agreed on a club-record fee with Inter Milan for Argentine international striker Lautaro Martinez in the ongoing summer transfer window.

Inter Milan’s main man (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Lautaro Martinez has enjoyed an exquisite run of form lately, which has overshadowed the attacking contributions of Edin Dzeko. Indeed, the Argentine has netted six goals in his five league matches, with Inter unsurprisingly securing three points in each of those five encounters.

A key improvement in Martinez’s game under Inzaghi has been his efficiency in front of goal. The Inter forward has barely missed a beat when it comes to making use of his scoring opportunities, while his combination play with Dzeko has seen the Nerazzurri overtake AC Milan and Napoli.

As Inter take on Torino, Lautaro’s productivity, coupled with his pace and technical prowess, could once again make the danger-man for the opposition.

Prediction

Inter Milan 3-0 Torino

Inter Milan are currently coming on the back of six successive wins in the league and have kept a clean sheet in five of those matches. During his period, they have scored 16 goals while conceding just two goals.

Therefore, it is hard to imagine anything other than a win for Inter, especially considering Andrea Belotti’s absence has crippled Torino’s attacking unit. The visitors have also had a poor record away from home, so Inter remain the favourites to secure all three points in this crucial Serie A encounter.

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