Hellas Verona vs Inter: Struggling hosts hope to derail Scudetto aspirants

Inter Milan's Mauro Icardi
www.reuters.com

Hellas Verona will hope to enjoy another good result as they welcome another Nerazzurri side – Inter – to the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi on Sunday afternoon.

It took them 23 games, but Luigi Delneri’s side are no longer the only team in not just Italy, but in all of Europe’s “Big 5” leagues sans a single win this season. Giampaolo Pazzini proved to be the hero of the day as his late goal secured a first-ever victory for the Gialloblu against Atalanta. Verona fans will be hoping that the ex-Inter man can have the same effect as they will be facing a much tougher opponent than La Dea in a few days’ time. Perhaps the win had been indeed something in the making, as prior to Wednesday’s result, Delneri’s men had only lost one out of their last four matches, with three consecutive draws against Roma, Genoa, and Torino.

Including their midweek victory, Verona have now picked up six points from their last four matches. That may not seem like a lot, but considering that they had just eight before this slight uptick in form, each and every point will be crucial if they want to even have any glimmer of hope in avoiding the drop to Serie B. Ahead of them in the table are Serie A debutants Frosinone and Carpi, who hold a five-point advantage; more important, Sampdoria presently occupies that desperately coveted 17th place all relegation candidates seek, with 24 points from the first 23 rounds of action. As such, the hosts will try their utmost best to frustrate Inter with the intent of picking up at least one point from Sunday’s match.

It seems like ages ago, but a few rounds ago, Inter were on top of the league and had people talking about a four-way battle for the Scudetto between the Nerazzurri, Napoli, Fiorentina, and of course, reigning champions Juventus. Unfortunately, then came a series of stumbles in 2016, and in one week alone, the once impenetrable defense had conceded a whopping six goals in two matches.

First came a 3-0 drubbing against Juventus in their Coppa Italia semi-final first leg game, making their chances of securing a spot in the final virtually slim to none. And then the wind was really knocked out of their sails as they were thrashed 3-0 by cross-town rivals AC Milan in last weekend’s Derby della Madonnina, in which Roberto Mancini was sent off for voicing his opinions too aggressively.

Inter managed to rebound by battling their way to a 1-0 result over Chievo earlier this week, but their performance was far from convincing as they appeared to labor for periods of the match. Supporters, who were not shy at expressing their frustration following the Derby della Madonnina debacle, will be demanding a much better performance against the worst-performing side in the league as with each win for Napoli and Juventus, the Scudetto is slipping further and further away from Inter’s grasp.

Still, at the very least, if they cannot clinch the Scudetto, then a return to the Champions League will certainly have to be on the cards for the 2016/2017 campaign; however, even that is not guaranteed as the team sit in fourth, one point behind Fiorentina and another slip-up could see Roma – who have won their last two games – overtake them in the standings.

Will Inter get back on track against a Verona side who have been very poor this season? Or will their first win of the season galvanize the Gialloblu to cause more headaches for Mancini’s troops?

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Michelle Bonsu

Freelance football journalist based in New York. Primarily support AC Milan as well as the Ghanaian and Italian NT’s, but you’ll find me watching the Bundesliga and Premier League as well–enjoy a good game, regardless of where it’s being played. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of my favourite players.