Having lost against the reigning Scudetto champions on Sunday, Roberto Mancini’s men will be hoping to achieve the near-impossible in Milan as they seek to overturn a massive 3-0 defeat suffered in the first leg back in January. After leading the table not due to having the most potent attack – as the majority of their wins were 1-0 results – but thanks to boasting one of the strongest defenses in Italy, the Nerazzurri have suffered a mid-season meltdown with no end in sight. The last time they were on top of of the league was on January 6th, when they defeated Empoli, again by a score of 1-0.
However, a shock loss to Sassuolo started their tumble down the table, and since the win over the Azzurri, Inter have won just two out of their past nine games. They, to date, are the only team to have shipped three goals against Hellas Verona, and could slip further down the table – and out of a European football spot – if they do not manage to arrest their downward slide in Serie A.
But for now, they must turn their attention to the upcoming Coppa Italia, which also could provide them with a backdoor into Europe should they manage to dig themselves out of a massive hole and beat their next opponents – which will likely be city rivals AC Milan – in the final. To complicate matters, Mancini will be facing a defensive crisis ahead of an already-tough clash with La Vecchia Signora. Both first-choice central defenders Miranda and Jeison Murillo are suspended, and Gary Medel and Alex Telles, who went off injured in Sunday’s fixture, are in doubt for this match. And given that his misfiring forwards were unable to produce the desired effect in Turin, the Italian tactician could opt to re-shuffle his attack.
Like his tactical opponent, Massimiliano Allegri also has some defensive worries, as both Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini suffered injuries in the team’s match this past weekend. The Italian duo will have to be evaluated, but as for now, they are listed as doubtful for Wednesday’s game. Key midfielder Claudio Marchisio has still not recovered from his own injury during the team’s 2-2 draw versus Bayern, and Martin Caceres is out for the rest of the season after undergoing surgery for his Achilles’ tendon.
Sunday’s game marked the eighth straight match without conceding a goal for the Bianconeri, and they have also yet to conceded in the Coppa Italia so far this season. Having scored nine goals against Torino, Lazio, and most recently, Inter, the reigning trophy-holders are looking like an absolute certainty to seal a final match-up against Milan as they seek what will be their 11th Coppa Italia if they can defeat the Rossoneri.
Allegri will likely rotate his squad for this game; as per usual, Neto will take over between the posts in lieu of Gianluigi Buffon. Paulo Dybala will probably be given a rest as the young Argentinian striker has logged up quite a bit of game-time over the course of this season, meaning that Simone Zaza could be partnered in attack with Alvaro Morata, who scored the team’s second goal in their recent win over the Nerazzurri.
And should Bonucci and Chiellini not recover in time for the trip to Milan, then Allegri will have to revert to a four-man back-line, with veteran defender Andrea Barzagli being partnered with emerging youngster Daniele Rugani.
Juventus are currently undefeated in their last nine matches against Inter across all competitions and will be seeking to make it a perfect ten on Wednesday evening. Will the Bianconeri heap more misery on the Nerazzurri in front of an already-frustrated Inter fan-base? Or will Mancini’s side pull off what will be their biggest result all season to redeem themselves?
The fourth Derby d’Italia of this season will be a tense one from start to finish, and one that fans and Serie A neutrals surely will not want to miss
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