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Inter Milan vs Fiorentina: Preview

Two of Serie A’s premier late-season meltdown artists should produce a classic.

ACF Fiorentina v Hellas Verona FC - Serie A Photo by Lisa Guglielmi/LiveMedia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Fresh off an unpleasantly tense a dominant win over Bologna, Fiorentina get an entirely different challenge as they head north to take on Inter Milan. In 182 previous meetings, the Viola hold a W49 D57 L76 record, including a W1 D4 L5 mark over their previous 10 league meetings; they haven’t beat the Nerazzurri in Milan since 2015 (Nikola Kalinić hat trick, anyone?), so it’ll take something special. In their previous meeting, il Biscione came away with a 1-3 win that didn’t quite reflect the balance of play and featured a red card for applause.

The referee for this one is 37-year-old Daniele Chiffi of Padova. In 11 Serie A games this year, he’s handed out 46 yellow cards, 3 red cards, and 3 penalties. He also made the headlines a couple months ago for his awful performance in the AC Milan-AS Roma game, earning himself a month off top flight games. In 7 matches under his direction, Fiorentina hold a W1 D2 L4 record; he’s produced some absolute clunkers in those 7 outings, so get your outrage muscles all warmed up.

The match will be played on Saturday, 19 March 2022, at 5:00 PM GMT/1:00 PM EST, at the Stadio San Siro in Milan. The forecast calls for a lovely, clear evening, not too cold, with a touch of wind and nary a cloud in sight. You know, the perfect evening for a big upset.

Inter Milan

With 9 games left in the season, it feels like we may be heading for a deeply Pazza Inter finish to the season. They’ve only won 1 of their past 6 games (and that one over lowly Salernitana, albeit in a 5-0) and also bowed out of the Champions League on a 2-1 aggregate loss to Liverpool. With their city rivals sitting top of the table, 4 points ahead, you get the sense that the blue side of Milan is equal parts seething and anxious; after a stinging 1-1 draw with Torino last time out, they really need a win here to get right again.

Manager Simone Inzaghi won’t have CB Stefan de Vrij, while CM Marcelo Brozović will be on the bench if he’s fit enough to play. It’ll be the usual 3-5-2, of course, with Hakan Çalhanoğlu likely to fill the deep playmaker role in Brozović’s absence. The questions are at wingback—Ivan Perišić or Robin Gosens—and striker—Edin Džeko or Alexis Sánchez—but we more or less know what to expect in this one, although stopping it is a whole different issue.

It’s never easy to slow down Serie A’s highest-scoring attack, but that’s going to be what Fiorentina have to do. Unlike last year’s version, this Inter likes to keep the ball (T-2 in possession). They’re brilliant at working it wide, stretching an opposing defense before crossing (most in Serie A), and they’ve shown a knack for working the ball into the box. The defenders will have to communicate perfectly for 90 minutes, and the midfield will need to track runs without switching off as well. Basically, everyone needs to be dialed in for the full game, and even that might not be enough.

Fiorentina

With 10 points from their past 5 league outings, Fiorentina looks like a team on the rise, ready for a late surge towards the European spots. However, a heartbreaking Coppa Italia loss to Juventus has left some questions, and the league’s most difficult run-in (half the remaining games are against teams currently in the top six) doesn’t augur particularly well. Avenging the reverse fixture could go a long way to solidifying their status as legitimate contenders for the continental places.

Manager Vincenzo Italiano won’t have DM Sofyan Amrabat or CM Giacomo Bonaventura, although neither absence should affect his approach too much. Expect the usual XI with Alfred Duncan and Youssef Maleh contending for Jack’s berth, while Nico González, Riccardo Sottil, Riccardo Saponara, and Jonathan Ikoné contend for the wide forward spots in the mister’s 4-3-3.

With de Vrij injured, expect Fiorentina to attack his replacement, whether that’s Danilo D’Ambrosio or Andrea Ranocchia. There’ll be an emphasis on getting 1-v-1s against that player, probably with González or Ikoné. While the Viola hit crosses with the 2nd-highest frequency in Serie A, that’s probably not a good option here, given how good Inter is in the air. The other area to watch is the holding midfielder: if the wingers or midfielders can overload Çalhanoğlu in the hole, they could create all kinds of problems. Still, though, this is Italy’s 2nd-best defense by the numbers, so it’s going to be difficult.

Possible lineups

Perišić or Gosens, Džeko or Sánchez; Duncan or Maleh, Sottil or Ikoné
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How to watch

TV: Maybe BeIn? Check the full international television listings to be sure.

Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.

Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department

Even with Inter Milan wavering a bit and missing a couple of key cogs, they’re massive favorites with every oddsmaker. That makes perfect sense, too. After all, they’re the reigning champions, playing at home against a lower-ranked side, and boast the best goal difference in the league as they chase another scudetto. This is a really, really good team.

However, they have looked a bit fragile of late, and TMBGD is a place for the unbridled optimism of a purple bong (it’s legal where VN’s offices are located). That’s why I’ll call for a 1-2 upset win, with Krzysztof Piątek and Gaetano Castrovilli—who’s been improving in leaps and bounds over the past month or so—netting for the good guys, while Džeko gets one for the bad guys in a game that sees the Nerazzurri put the Viola goal under siege for much of the game but somehow failing to get the win. Again, purple bong.

Forza Viola!