Fiorentina emerge from the international break and kick off a sprint through the remainder of the season, featuring games twice a week for most of the rest of the year. To start this stretch off, what better than a trip to Inter Milan? In 184 previous meetings, the Viola are W49 D58 L77 against the Nerazzurri, including a run of 13 straight without a win; in fact, the last time they beat Inter at the San Siro was 2015. The reverse fixture this year finished with a 3-4 defeat due to some truly atrocious refereeing.
The referee for this one is 41-year-old Fabio Maresca of Naples. In 10 Serie A appearances this season, he’s handed out 52 yellow cards, 2 red cards, and 2 penalties; he’s always been quite willing to let stuff go, so this could get rugged, and he’s also probably due for his annual meltdown. In 9 matches under his direction, Fiorentina are W3 D3 L3. Last we saw him was the 0-4 abomination to Lazio, which uh wasn’t great.
The match will be played on Saturday, 1 April 2023, at 7:00 PM GMT/12:00 PM EST, at the Stadio San Siro in Milan. The forecast calls for a pretty nice spring evening, with temperatures dropping towards chilly as the night progresses. Expect a pretty good traveling contingent for this one, too, given the magnitude of the matchup and Fiorentina’s current form.
At first glance, it’s been a good season for Inter. Sure, they’re not winning the scudetto, but they sit in 3rd place and just 2 points behind AC Milan for 2nd. They’ve advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals and the Coppa Italia semifinals, so a trophy could still beckon. Dig a bit deeper, though, and you’ll notice that they’ve lost 3 of their past 4 league games. That’s not even the wildest thing around the club, though: the availability of Antonio Conte has perked up their ears, and owners Suning are likely to sell this summer. We’re back to Pazza Inter; for more, check out our conversation with Serpents of Madonnina’s David McFarland.
Manager Simone Inzaghi won’t have CB Milan Škriniar, CB Danilo D’Ambrosio, LB Federico Dimarco, or AM Hakan Çalhanoglu. He’ll stick with his usual 3-5-2, likely with Lautaro Martínez (14 goals, 3 assists) and Romelu Lukaku up front. The big Belgian is probably the biggest swing factor here: if he’s the guy who scored a hat trick for his national team over the break, this could get tough; if he’s the guy who’s got 3 goals in 15 appearances for his club this year, it may not be.
While Inter are even with Fiorentina on most possession statistics this year, expect Inzaghi to order his team to sit deep and play on the break. That likely suits his players more, especially Denzel Dumfries and the strikers, who excel working the channels; rather than dropping off, the Viola may try to press higher up and cut off the supply, despite the inherent risk in that approach. Too, keep a very close eye on set pieces, as Inter have a massive size advantage here and will want to use it. That could lead to some, hm, questionable spills near Fiorentina’s box.
The Viola have hit their stride at the right moment, winning 7 straight across all competitions and suddenly looking like the well-oiled machine that won plaudits from every corner last year. They’ve climbed to 9th in the league with 37 points and could conceivably push into 7th and another Conference League campaign. Of course, the team’s got its eye on bigger prizes, like the Coppa Italia and the Conference League; it’s into the semifinals of the former and the quarterfinals of the latter, and desperately needs to keep winning to maintain momentum.
Manager Vincenzo Italiano won’t have CM Alfred Duncan or CF Luka Jović but welcomes back LB Aleksa Terzić. He’ll send out his usual 4-2-3-1, but with that Coppa match against Cremonese looming on Wednesday, he may rotate his side a bit, so there’s no way to know where he’ll land on the usual selection questions. Jonathan Ikoné, Lucas Martínez Quarta, and Giacomo Bonaventura feel like the likeliest picks, but the mister loves to keep us guessing and is likely to spring a surprise or two.
Assuming that Inter sit deep, Fiorentina’s task will be breaking them down. One option is targeting Matteo Darmian at the back post with crosses, but the better option is probably trying to get the lumbering Francesco Acerbi matched up with a quicker attacker in a bit of space; expect to see Nicolás González drifting into central areas to overload the middle and provide another goal threat while Cristiano Biraghi and Rolando Mandragora take it in turn to provide the width on the left.
How to watch
TV: BeIn might have this one. Check the full international television listings to confirm.
Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
The oddsmakers have Inter as the big favorites, which isn’t surprising: the Nerazzurri are higher in the table, have a bigger name, and haven’t lost at home to Fiorentina in 8 years. I’d argue those odds are a bit bullish on the hosts, though, as the Viola are in much better form and don’t have the injuries or chaos surrounding them. The smart money here is definitely still on Inter Milan, but it’s likely tighter than a lot of bettors think.
That’s why I’m making this one a 2-2, with goals for Lukaku and Martínez for the bad guys and Cabral and González for the good guys. This fixture has seen a lot of goals recently—21 over the past 5—and I expect that to continue in a game that will be a bit more up-and-down than either manager probably really wants.