Don’t worry, friends. We’ve only got 6 more matches of this unbelievably tedious season left. Unfortunately, the next match is against what’ll probably be a highly-motivated Inter Milan, who blasted Fiorentina 4-2 at the San Siro earlier this season. Even so, the Viola are W5 D1 L4 against the Nerazurri over their last 10 meetings, including a hard-fought 2-1 win last year at the Franchi that featured this absurd Khouma Babacar goal.
The match will be played on Saturday, 22 April 2017, at 8:45PM CST/2:45 PM EST at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Following last week’s absolutely crushing defeat in the Tuscan Derby at the hands of Empoli, it seems pretty clear that this team doesn’t have much left to play for. With a big shake-up imminent this summer which will see the coach, the captain, and probably a raft of club stalwarts depart, we seem to be looking down the wrong end of the Dumutru Effect, which states that towards the end of the season, teams near the bottom of the table are more dangerous than those at the middle, as the former desperately scrap to avoid the drop and the latter switch off with nothing to play for.
Paulo Sousa will doubtless bring out the 3-4-2-1 formation. Even after his gaffe last week, Ciprian Tătăruşanu is likely to continue in goal over Marco Sportiello. We’ll probably see the usual backline, but it’s the midfield where things get interesting. Sousa’s plans should be apparent from his starting lineup: if he uses Borja Valero in the middle, he’ll be hoping for a relatively open match; using the Spanish maestro as an attacker, though, will mean a Milan Badelj-Matías Vecino partnership and a more workmanlike approach. Similarly, we could see Cristian Tello and Federico Chiesa on the wings, although a spot for Hrvoje Milić would certainly indicate a more cautious gameplan. Khouma Babacar is expected to start up top.
Tactically, it should be the usual Sousa Fiorentina, with lots of possession at the back to allow the opposition forwards to press high and win the ball in dangerous positions. The midfield and attackers will drift into central locations, congesting the middle of the pitch. Babacar and Federico Bernardeschi will make ceaseless runs over the top, hoping that a ball will work its way through to them to finish. You know, the same thing we see every week.
Just one spot ahead of their opponents in the table, Inter nevertheless sit 4 points ahead in the standings and 4 points behind Atalanta for the final European spot, meaning that they’ll be desperate for 3 points to maintain their chances. Their poor form of late, though, will have the fans awfully nervous; they’re just W1 D2 L2 in their last 5, including an astonishing defeat to relegation-bound Crotone.
Of course, this Inter is hardly a stranger to slumping form. Their record since firing Frank de Boer is quite impressive, and Stefano Pioli will feel confident that he can right the ship. He should have the full squad at his disposal, although leftback Cristian Ansaldi (hamstring) may be held out until he’s fully recovered.
Pioli will send out his usual 4-2-3-1. Miranda should return to the heart of the defense, and it’s a bit of a toss-up as to whether Charles Kondogbia or Marcelo Brozović will partner Roberto Gagliardini in midfield. The number 10 spot will be filled by either João Mário or Éver Banega. The dangerman, of course, is striker Mauro Icardi, who’s tallied an absurd 21 goals and 9 assists in 30 Serie A matches, including a brace the last time out against the Viola. With pace and technique out wide, Inter will look to press high and get Icardi in on goal to do what he does. The lack of a true holding midfielder to shield the defense and the prospect of matching Yuto Nagatomo against Federico Chiesa are probably the only things troubling Pioli.
How to watch
TV: Oh my goodness, this one will actually be live on BeIn. Feels like the first time in months.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Blurgh. Just blurgh. I guess we’ll say 2-1 to the hosts, as they usually seem to play Inter close. This time around, I’m guessing that an early mistake in defense will let Icardi through easily for the lead, but a Berna strike on the break will level the match, and Babacar will fire in a late winner again. A boy can dream, can’t he?