Inter Milan will look to get their flagging Serie A title charge back on track when they take on Fiorentina at the Giuseppe Meazza on Saturday.

Defending champions Inter Milan went into March knowing that the Serie A title was theirs to lose. Simeone Inzaghi’s side appear to be doing just that, as they have since fallen behind in the race for the title.

While the win against Liverpool at Anfield in the UEFA Champions League was no doubt impressive, the smash-and-grab masked what has been a rather underwhelming run of results in the Italian top-flight. Inter have won just one of their last five league games and currently lie in the third spot, four points off the summit.

A win against Fiorentina will move them to within a point of league leaders AC Milan. Despite staying in the hunt and having a game in hand, securing three points on the night will not be enough unless the Rossoneri slip up. Having already surrendered the initiative, the Nerazzurri cannot afford to drop any more cheap points.

Fiorentina are in the eighth spot and have a really good chance of qualifying for European football. They have lost just one of their last five league games and will present Inzaghi’s men with a real challenge.

Curiously, the Viola are ahead of Inter in the Serie A form table since the turn of the year. The Nerazzurri are ninth, four points behind their weekend opponents in the form table. However, they do have the best home form in the league and will seek to make use of it. It promises to be a big game for both sides, who still have a lot to play for.

Team News & Tactics

Inter Milan

The Italian champions have already been knocked out of Europe and now only have domestic glory to compete for. With the Coppa Italia second leg against AC Milan still to come, it is in Inter’s best interests to build momentum with a win.

Inter’s recent win over Liverpool at Anfield largely masked what has been a difficult run of games for them. While Liverpool did not take their chances on the night, other opponents have not been so generous. The Nerazzurri were only spared their blushes against Torino last weekend thanks to a stoppage-time equalizer by Alexis Sanchez.

Inter will be without Stefan de Vrij, who is ruled out with an injury until the international break. Marcelo Brozovic was absent for the game against Torino and is a doubt for the match at the Giuseppe Meazza on Saturday. The Croatian’s absence is a major blow given his role in the Nerazzurri midfield. It remains to be seen who will take his place in the first XI, given Inzaghi’s unwillingness to change his formation.

Inter have often lined up in a 3-5-2 formation, which they are expected to continue with this weekend. Samir Handanovic is likely to start in goal behind the back three of Danilo D’Ambrosio, Milan Skriniar and Alessandro Bastoni. Ivan Perisic has looked jaded in recent weeks, and he could be given a rest.

Denzel Dumfries and Ruben Gosens look set to start as the wing-backs, flanking the central midfield trio of Nicolo Barella, Arturo Vidal and Hakan Calhanoglu. Matias Vecino started in Brozovic’s stead last week and is likely to be replaced by the more energetic Vidal at the base of the midfield three.

The front two of Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko pick themselves for the game.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2)Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Skriniar, Bastoni; Darmain, Barella, Vidal, Calhanoglu, Gosens; Martinez, Dzeko

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Fiorentina

La Viola lost ace goalscorer Dusan Vlahovic in the January transfer window, but it appears to have boosted their performances. Winning the game in hand will give Fiorentina an impetus to finish in the top six and draw level with Lazio in the fifth spot.

Given what is at stake, it would be foolish to expect Inter to have it easy. Vincenzo Italiano’s side have been inconsistent this season, but have shown themselves capable of stepping up when needed.

The 44-year-old Fiorentina boss has a nearly full-strength squad to choose from and is likely to implement a 4-3-3 formation to catch Inter’s three-man backline cold. Giacomo Bonaventura and Sofyan Amrabat are ruled out of the match and will not feature on the night.

Pietro Terracciano will start in goal behind a backline of Alvaro Odriozola, Nikola Milenkovic, Igor and Cristiano Biraghi. The midfield trio of Gaetano Castrovilli, Lucas Torreira and Riccardo Saponaro will aim to win the battle in the middle of the park, with Saponara acting as the thread that connects the two halves of the pitch.

Nicolas Gonzalez looks set to start on the left-wing, with Riccardo Sottil occupying the other flank. Krzysztof Piatek has started in recent weeks and looks set to lead the line once again. Fiorentina also have the likes of Jose Callejon and Jonathan Ikone, who could come off the bench to make a difference.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3)Terracciano; Odriozola, Milenkovic, Igor, Biraghi; Saponara, Torreira, Castrovilli; Sottil, Piatek, Gonzalez

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Key Stats

  • Fiorentina have scored more Serie A goals (214) against Inter Milan than any other side in the top flight.
  • The two sides have faced each other 167 times in the Italian top-flight. Fiorentina have won 44 engagements, while Inter Milan have come out on top 69 times.
  • Inter Milan have won 16 of their last 19 home games against Fiorentina, losing just once in the process.
  • Fiorentina have four more points in the Serie A than Inter Milan since the turn of the year.
  • Inter Milan have secured 34 points from 14 home games in the Serie A this season – more than any other side in the competition.

Player To Watch

Nicolo Barella

Barella being chased by Liverpool, Barcelona among others (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Nicolo Barella will need to step up and make himself count. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

The Euro 2020 hero has blown hot and cold for Inter Milan this season. With Marcelo Brozovic potentially unavailable for the game, the onus will be on him to orchestrate attacks from midfield. The Azzurri ace is an excellent ball-carrier and will offer the home side more impetus going forward.

With Vidal likely to start ahead of Brozovic, there will be no lack of energy in the middle of the pitch. This should give Barella more freedom to move the ball forward and perhaps function as a box-to-box midfielder. Having such a runner burst into the box will certainly add to the goalscoring threat created by the Inter full-backs whipping balls into the penalty area.

Prediction

Inter Milan 1-1 Fiorentina

While Inter Milan certainly are the better team on paper, they currently appear to lack confidence and look jaded. Meanwhile, Fiorentina have a spring in their step and a European spot to play for. Unless Inter hit the ground running from kickoff, we can see them dropping more points in the title race.

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