One of the joys of being a part of SB Nation is that it’s really easy to find experts who are part of the network as well. We were lucky enough to track down Édouard Germain, one of the writers over at the excellent Inter Milan site Serpents of the Madonnina, and he was gracious enough to answer some of our questions. Without further ado, here’s our chat, lightly edited for clarity.
Viola Nation: There’s been a bit of fixture congestion for yall and especially with the very intense couple of games in the past week, it seems like Luciano Spalletti might rotate his XI quite a bit, who do you think will start this one for Inter Milan and in what formation?
Édouard Germain: With the CL, the Serie A, it’s obvious that some players have a lot of minutes in their legs. So far field players like Matteo Politano, Kwadwo Asamoah, Marcelo Brozovic, Ivan Perisic, Danilo D’Ambrosio have played a lot. I expect some or these guys to rest. I expect a 4231 formation of Samir Handanovic, Asamoah, Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij, Sime Vrsaljko, Perisic, Roberto Gagliardini, Marcelo Brozovic, Radja Nainggolan, Antonio Candreva and Mauro Icardi.
VN: Who’s the most impressive Inter player right now? Who should Viola fans really be scared of? Conversely, who’s been underwhelming of late?
ÉG: Politano has been quite dangerous the pasy few games. I think he’s been one of the few Nerrazurro to perform since day one. He might not start the game, but coming off the bench to wreak havoc on opposing defences doesn’t make him less of a threat. As for players I’m not satisfied, Icardi immediately comes to my mind. It’s just hard to see him not scoring as profusely as last year, knowing that’s (some might say only) his thing [ed. note: crap he’s gonna score 7 now].
VN: Let’s flip that one. Which Fiorentina player are yall nervous to face, if any? What aspect(s) of the Viola presents an obstacle to the Nerazzuri as currently constituted? And in what area(s) do you see il Biscione having a distinct advantage?
ÉG: Jordan Veretout. He’s coming off a game against SPAL with 95% passing, and has shown the ability to keep the ball under pressure. Inter has sometimes resorted to an extremely aggressive press in defending. Thing is, if they come across a guy that can hold the ball and shred the midfield open, there’s a problem. That’s how Alfred Duncan and Soualiho Meite had such good games against the Nerrazurri. Veretout needs to be kept in check. Marco Benassi brings fear to my mind for the same reasons.
VN: Given that there are a lot of storylines in this one about ex-players and such—Cristiano Biraghi and Marco Benassi were stars in the Primavera for yall and Pioli was the coach a couple of years ago, while Spalletti, Borja Valero, Matías Vecino, Danilo d’Ambrosio, and Tommaso Berni all had notable spells in Florence (and shoot, Andrea Ranocchia is a Tuscan too)—how much do you think nostalgia will figure into this one for all parties involved?
ÉG: Not much, to be honest. In the Serie A, clubs like Fiorentina, AS Roma, Lazio, Inter, Juventus, AC Milan, and Napoli exchange players fairly often, so there’s nothing new or remarkable here. And don’t remember those players having bad blood with either one of those sides so...the biggest storyline that might occur is if Inter drops points (again). The noise around the consistency of the squad, Luciano Spalletti’s abilities, and some players will get louder, for sure.
VN: Prediction time: what’s the final scoreline, who gets the goals, and what’s the overall pattern of the match?
ÉG: 2-0 for Inter, in an extremely disputed game. Lemme cross my fingers, think about the Icardi stunner from Tuesday and hope for a brace of the Captain.