Serie A Week 30 – Saturday 19 March 2022 – San Siro | Preview by Tlalane Phahla – Follow her on Twitter
Defending champions Inter Milan have entered a critical phase in the defence of their title and any more slip ups this weekend could further complicate matters for them. The past few weeks, the fans and the media have been vocal about every game being a must win for Inter. Saturday’s clash with Fiorentina at San Siro will be a big test of Inters heart, spirit and determination. Inter endured a tough trip to Turin last week to face Torino and were only able to come back with a point, one they were lucky to get but a point may not be enough to salvage their title defence this weekend.
We can write and say all sorts of things, but the champions know it’s now or never for them and they do not need motivation. All three scudetto contenders are playing on Saturday and when Inter take to the pitch, they would be aware of the result between Napoli and Udinese. For the first time this season, they go into match day having no control over their destiny and have to rely on other teams to do them a favour.
Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko may have ended their dry spell against Salernitana but they’ve not scored since in Serie A. This could be a game for either of them to come alive again and prolong the scudetto fight to another match day against Juventus.
Inter enjoy a good record against Fiorentina and are unbeaten in their last nine games against the visitors. As impressive as they have been, Fiorentina have been blowing hot and cold, and Inter can also bank on their goal scoring problems since losing Dusan Vlahovic in January.
Expected XI (3-5-2): Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Skriniar, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Vidal, Calhanoglu, Gosens; Dzeko, Martinez
- With four goals and four assists Hakan Calhanoglu has been involved in eight goals against Fiorentina in Serie A, more than against any other team in the top-flight. The Inter midfielder has recorded eight assists this season, one fewer than his most prolific in a season in Serie A (nine in both 2019/20 and 2020/21).
- Inter (with Lazio) are one of the two teams to have scored the most goals in the last 30 minutes of games in Serie A this season (22 goals), while Fiorentina have scored the most goals in 30 central minutes (between 31st and 6oth minutes: 23 goals).
- Inter have gained 32 points in 14 home games in Serie A this season, more than any other team. On five of the last seven occasions in which the Nerazzurri have won 32+ points in their first 14 Serie A home games, they have won the scudetto (except for second place in 2010/11 and seventh 2016/17)
The visitors are harbouring ambitions to play in Europe next season and they have looked like a revitalised team under Vincenzo Italiano. Their style of play has been lauded by many in Serie A as easy on the eye, attack focused and their pace keeps defenders on their toes. At home, Fiorentina have been doing well and their victory over Bologna last weekend kept them in top-six race. They are just two points behind Roma with a game in hand. As impressive as they’ve been, their away form is horrendous. They have only won two games since October on the road, and have lost three of their four away league games against teams above them. If they were to turn tables on Inter, it would be some feat.
Expected XI (4-3-3): Terracciano; Odriozola, Milenkovic, Igor, Biraghi; Castrovilli, Torreira, Duncan; González, Piatek, Sottil
- Cristiano Biraghi is the defender who has created the most chances in Serie A this season (46). He played 26 Serie A games with Inter in the 2019/20 and scored two goals, his most in the competition before the four goals he has scored this season.
- Krzysztof Piatek has played three games without finding the net against Inter in Serie A; against no team has he played more games without scoring in the Italian top-flight. Piatek, however, has three goals in seven Serie A games for Fiorentina this season.
Simone Inzaghi may still be without Croatian midfielder Marcelo Brozovic who couldn’t be part of the team in Turin as he is still recovering from a muscle injury. While it’s reported to not be as serious as feared, Inzaghi couldn’t risk him and still may not rely on him if he is not 100 percent fit. According to reports at best he may sit on the bench. Stefan de Vrij is also a major doubt and may not be involved again this weekend again.