Inter Milan face their first true test of the Serie A season when they travel to Lazio on Friday.
Simone Inzaghi will return to his old hunting ground when Inter Milan travel to Stadio Olimpico to take on Lazio on Friday night in this week’s early kickoff in Serie A.
The games between the two sides have served up some intense affairs in the recent past, and there is no reason to believe this time will be any different. Both clubs are yet to hit their stride, and this early meeting could set the tone for what is to come this season.
Inter have won both of their games so far and sit pretty near to the summit. Lazio are eighth in the table and will be keen to give themselves a morale booster, especially in front of the home crowd.
Inzaghi’s men have been far from convincing so far but have shown the grit and bottle to get over the line. Given that they fell just short of winning a second successive Serie A title last season, fine margins could once again prove decisive.
The corresponding game last year saw Lazio stun the Nerazzurri clinch a 2-1 win. Maurizio Sarri’s side have only improved since and will hope to spring another shock onto the Coppa Italia holders. Le Aquile spent the 2021/22 campaign getting used to Sarri-ball and finished a decent fifth in Serie A. They will push onto bigger and better things now, and a win against Inter will certainly send that message across.
The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.
Team News & Tactics
— S.S.Lazio (@OfficialSSLazio) August 23, 2022
New signing Luis Maximiano was sent off on the opening day and missed Lazio’s 0-0 draw against Torino. He is unlikely to get the nod ahead of Ivan Provedel in the home side’s goal. Pedro is also back from injury and will give Sarri more options to choose from.
The Aquile have not hit top gear yet and will be keen to kickstart a good run of results against Inter. There is no love lost between the club and Inzaghi, and the home side will egg on their team to get the better of their former manager.
Sarri is likely to persist with a 4-3-3 formation that will get the best out of his players and also silence Inter on their flanks. Provedel will start in goal behind a back four of Manuel Lazzari, Patric, Alessio Romagnoli, and Adam Marusic. Luis Alberto is still at the club but is unlikely to displace former Inter Milan man Matias Vecino in midfield.
Vecino and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic will be tasked with making forward forays and connecting the defence to the attack. Danilo Cataldi will function as the defensive midfielder and will be in direct competition with Marcelo Brozovic to set the tone in midfield. How well the trio can function could determine the space the Lazio front three can operate in.
While Pedro returns, it might be unlikely that Sarri will risk the player from the off. The Lazio boss is likely to persist with a front three of Mattia Zaccagni, Ciro Immobile and Felipe Anderson. As long as the three attackers get stuck into the Inter rearguard, they could have an opportunity to force a mistake and seize the opportunity.
Lazio are slowly yet steadily developing into the side that Sarri is building them into and cannot afford to drop points, especially at home. Playing Inter Milan will not be easy, but with home advantage to boot, Sarri and co might spring a surprise.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Provedel; Lazzari, Patric, Romagnoli, Marusic; Milinkovic-Savic, Cataldi, Vecino; Felipe Anderson, Immobile, Zaccagni
The Coppa Italia holders are among the sides expected to challenge for the Scudetto this season. Inter Milan have picked up six points from their first two games and have given mixed performances so far.
Simone Inzaghi’s men needed a stoppage-time winner on opening day against Lecce before a dominant home opener against Spezia ended in a 3-0 win. They will now aim to make it nine points on the trot when they travel to the Italian capital on Friday.
The Nerazzurri will be without Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who is currently out injured. Raoul Bellanova is a doubt for the game, and there is little reason for Inzaghi to risk him. The Inter Milan boss has an otherwise full-strength squad to choose from and will be keen to mark a return to his former side with a win.
— Inter (@Inter_en) August 25, 2022
The 46-year-old is an advocate of the 3-5-2 formation and there is little reason to believe that he will deviate from it. Samir Handanovic will start in goal behind a back three of Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni.
Marcelo Brozovic will rekindle his role as the orchestrator in midfield with Hakan Calhanoglu and Nicolo Barella alongside him. Robin Gosens could get the nod over Federico Dimarco as the left wing-back while Denzel Dumfries is establishing himself as indispensable on the other flank. The duo will be tasked with holding the fort on the wings when it comes to both attack and defence.
Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku have rediscovered their understanding and stood out against Spezia. While Edin Dzeko and Angel Correa have both been impressive off the bench, Inzaghi has little reason to tinker with his first-choice frontline.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Bastoni, de Vrij, Skriniar; Gosens, Calhanoglu, Brozovic, Barella, Dumfries; Martinez, Lukaku
- Both teams have enjoyed success against each other in recent times. Inter Milan have won four of the last eight games between the sides, with Lazio coming out trumps thrice. The same result has not occurred over consecutive matches in the last eight games between the two sides. Should Inter Milan win on the night, it will break the trend.
- Nine of the last 13 times that both sides have faced off within the first three match days have ended in a stalemate. Lazio are unbeaten in their last three home games against Inter Milan.
- Lazio have failed to keep a clean sheet in six consecutive home games against Inter. Failing to do so on Friday will see them extend the tally to seven, an unwanted record they achieved between 1948-1960.
- A win on the night will see Lazio win their opening two home games for the first time since 2015/16.
- Should Inter score more than one goal on the night, it will be the first time in their history that they will have found the back of the net more than once in their first three Serie A games in successive seasons.
Player to Watch
The Argentine was the standout player against Spezia and will consider himself unlucky not to have bagged his first hat-trick of the season. He has rekindled the partnership with Lukaku upfront and now has the freedom to run into space and make things happen.
Having a mobile frontman alongside a physically dominant forward like Romelu Lukaku sets the right balance for Inter’s wing-backs to drive in crosses and hope something will happen. This combination of physicality and agility will make life difficult for the Lazio defence.
Martinez can also drop deep to get the ball in case Lazio seek to cut off service from the Inter midfield. Despite his struggles in England, Lukaku is a proven goalscorer in Serie A, and playing alongside his former partner will help bring out the best in the Belgian as well.
SS Lazio 2-2 Inter Milan
The tactical tussle between Simone Inzaghi and Maurizio Sarri should make for an interesting game between two sides, who could end up in the top four come to the end of the season. Inter certainly have the momentum going into the game but will find it difficult in an arena that will be against them all night.
Lazio are also unbeaten this season but are yet to hit top gear. A win against Inter should more or less give Lazio a morale booster, potentially setting them up to go on a winning run. Games between these teams are never dull, and we could be in for a high-scoring tie that is intermixed with flaring tempers.