Inter will be desperate to end their downward spiral when they welcome Southampton to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Thursday evening.
The Nerazzurri come into this game having suffered a shock 2-1 reversal to Cagliari. That loss is just the latest in a string of bad results for the fallen Milan giants. And not surprisingly, Frank de Boer is again in the hot-seat. The Dutch tactician was on borrowed time, but managed to salvage his job by beating Juventus in the Derby d’Italia last month. However, since the win over the Bianconeri, it’s all been downhill for Inter. Fans were hopeful when they beat Empoli 2-0 – although it was far from an impressive performance.
But since drawing Bologna 1-1, the Nerazzurri have failed to rebound since. In a move that backfired miserably, de Boer opted to rotate his squad against Sparta Praha. With one eye on the team’s upcoming Roma clash, he decided to take a gamble – and likely believed that the team should have no problems taking care of the Czech side.
Unfortunately for Inter, they were terribly wrong. And after being embarrassed 3-1, they then went on to lose to Roma 2-1. So, including the defeat by Cagliari, they are now on a three match losing streak. Not exactly encouraging for a team yet to pick up any points in their Europa League campaign. Two disappointing defeats to Israeli outfit Hapoer Be’er Sheva and Sparta have Inter already en route to an early exit. To be honest, when their quartet was announced, most figured that the Nerazzurri should have no trouble qualifying – along with their upcoming opponents, Southampton.
Well, if Inter are struggling, Southampton are flying. The Saints are currently on a seven-match unbeaten streak since losing 2-1 to Arsenal on September 10th. Claude Puel’s side easily brushed aside Sparta Praha 3-0 and despite having to settle for a scoreless stalemate with the Israeli outfit, they nonetheless are on top of their quartet on goal difference.
Amazingly, not too long ago, Inter were mixing it up with Europe’s elite. The Nerazzurri became the first Italian side to win a Treble back in 2010 under Jose Mourinho. By contrast, Southampton were competing in English football’s third tier during the 2009/2010 term, and did not make a return to the Premier League until the 2012/2013 campaign. But just like their cross-town rivals AC Milan, Inter have since fallen by the wayside and are no longer regarded as a premier force in Italian, let alone European football.
To complicate an already bad situation, some off-the-pitch issues have further exacerbated Inter’s situation. Current skipper Mauro Icardi is at war with the team’s passionate ultras due to some comments in his recently released auto-biography. So, despite him arguably being the team’s most reliable goal-scorer, rumors are rife that he may be left out entirely from the starting XI. However, given that Geoffrey Kondogbia, Joao Mario, Stevan Jovetic and Gabriel were all excluded from the squad due to FFP, it will be interesting to see how de Boer manages his squad. His job, predictably, is again under threat, with ex-Roma boss Rudi Garcia and Fabio Capello being mooted as possible replacements.
Southampton, meanwhile, are also missing quite a few faces. Jeremy Pied, Florin Gardos, Ryan Bertrand, Cedric Soares, and Matt Targett are all unavailable due to injury. And although club-record signing Sofiane Boufal has been included with the team, it is not guaranteed he will start. All in all, the Saints surely will be fancying their chances against an Inter side who are desperately seeing redemption.