Serie A Week 2 – Saturday 20 August 2022 – San Siro | Preview by Tlalane Phahla – Follow her on Twitter
Inter Milan are back at home in a sold out San Siro for their Saturday clash against a spirited Spezia side. It will also be a special ‘welcome home’ for Romelu Lukaku who has re-joined on-loan from Chelsea. Simone Inzaghi’s men will however, need to be more convincing after scraping a 2-1 victory over Lecce, thanks to a last minute goal from Denzel Dumfries.
The visitors recorded a 1-0 against Empoli which was the club’s first-ever win in a top-flight season opener, and they will be coming into this game with plenty of confidence. Lautaro Martinez did not get on the score sheet last week, but the Ligurians know him very well as they are one of his favourite opponents; Against Spezia alone, he has provided three assists more than any other opponent. He has also been directly involved in five goals in four league matches against the Aquilotti, last season he both scored and provided a winning assist in both league matches against them.
The Nerazzuri have brought in new reinforcements but perhaps the biggest move they seem to have managed so far is to keep Milan Skriniar, who has been a subject of transfer rumours linking him to PSG. After finishing second to rivals Milan last season, Inter are looking to compete for the title again and they know the competition is even higher this season.
Inzaghi did not hold a press conference but club put his preview of the game on their Instagram page and he discussed the opposition at length:
“It will be a tough match, Spezia is a healthy team that won well both in the Coppa Italia and in the league. They have a very good coach, very prepared, and players to keep under control.
It will be exciting, we have this great relationship with the fans that has been in place since last season. Around Italy they followed us, it also happened in Lecce; tomorrow there will be a great atmosphere.”
Expected XI (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, A. Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Dimarco; Martinez, Lukaku
- Inter are unbeaten in all six of their games against Spezia between Serie A and the Coppa Italia, thanks to five wins and one draw (the Nerazzurri have scored 16 goals and conceded four)
- Inter have not drawn in the last 10 league games: among the teams currently in the Serie A, no side is currently on a longer streak without a draw (nine wins and one defeat for the Nerazzurri)
- Federico Dimarco made the most open play crosses in the first round of this campaign (8); no defender has created more chances than Matteo Darmian (3 times, like Biraghi and Stonjanovic) so far.
Spezia manager Luca Gotti spoke to reporters ahead of this game and said they will have to be on their toes defensively and take advantage of their chances:
“I make a broader consideration, which gives meaning to the answer. You look at the results of the first day, not the fifth, which has already marked a furrow among the top eight, which have won. There is a marked difference, there are almost unplayable matches, net of the fact that football fortunately offers episodes.
With the awareness of the widest gap between big and small, you find yourself playing the game that you are allowed to do, based on how you are and who you have available, also in relation to how the game develops.”
Expected XI (3-5-2): Dragowski; Caldara, Kiwior, Nikolaou; Gyasi, Bourabia, Agudelo, S. Bastoni, Reca; Srelec, Nzola
- Spezia have lost five of their six Serie A away games played in Lombardy, however, they won the most recent fixture against AC Milan at the Meazza stadium on 17 January 2022.
- No Serie A side faced more pressed sequences (21) or suffered more high turn overs against (13) in the first MD of this campaign than Spezia.
- In the first game of this campaign vs Empoli, the Spezia striker M’Bala Nzola found the net in Serie A for the first time since November 20, 2021- the last time in which he scored in two consecutive appearances in the competition dates back to January 2021.
Inzaghi confirmed Danilo D’Ambrosio who was unavailable last week is back with the squad and available for selection, however, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is expected to be out for some time yet.