Inter will be desperate to stop their downward slide as they welcome a floundering Sampdoria to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Saturday evening.
Following a 2-1 loss to Fiorentina in a match that was a must-win in order to consolidate third place, the Nerazzurri have been in isolation – known as “ritiro” – as Roberto Mancini attempts to rally his troops ahead of their match with the Blucheriati. 2016 has been an absolute disaster for the Milan giants, who at one point were looking like serious Scudetto contenders after a bright start. However, with two wins in their past octet of games, Inter have tumbled down into fifth, and run a risk of falling into sixth at the end of this round should they lose and cross-town rivals AC Milan find a way past Napoli on Monday.
Unfortunately for Mancini, the defeat to the Viola did not see them drop just points, but also lose out on several key players. Geoffrey Kondogbia, Gary Medel, and Alex Telles will all be watching from the stands due to being suspended for this game, meaning that their manager will be left trying to figure out how to tinker his midfield to cope for their absence.
Nerazzurri fans may be slightly encouraged that their team have not lost to Sampdoria at home in their last 14 matches across all competitions, but stats count for little when one’s team has been performing poorly since the start of the new year. And they will be welcoming a team enduring their own misery who will be desperate to pick up at least one point to halt a disturbing downward spiral that has seen them tumble from briefly flirting with a European spot to mid-table comfort to now approaching dangerous territory: the dreaded relegation zone.
Indeed, Vincenzo Montella’s side, who presently sit in 17th with a disappointing 25 points, are just three away from Frosinone. The ex-Viola coach has been unable to work some of his magic at his current club, who have picked up a dismal four points since the start of 2016. A four-match losing streak was temporarily halted by a draw with Torino, but it turned out to be a false start as they will be coming into this game having lost to Roma and failed to score in a dull stalemate against Atalanta.
The fact that Sampdoria have not just lost three out of their past four away games but also have conceded at least two goals in all of those games will not sit well with the team’s supporters, who surely must be growing more and more frustrated with each passing round.
It will be an interesting game for a whole crop of players; for starters, Eder, who was Sampdoria’s top marksman prior to arriving in Milan this January, will be facing some of his former colleagues. And there are quite a few ex-Inter players in Montella’s squad; notably former Nerazzurri captain Andrea Ranocchia has now joined Dodo, Ricky Alvarez, and Antonio Cassano in Genoa.
Both teams will be desperate for all three points, with the hosts needing to stay ahead of Milan and the visitors hoping to give themselves some breathing room by putting some distance between them and the relegation zone. Will the Nerazzurri be able to arrest their downward slide? Or will Sampdoria stop their own downward spiral with a much needed win on the road?
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