Serie A Week 29 – Sunday 13 March 2022 – Diego Armando Maradona Stadium | Preview by Tlalane Phahla – Follow her on Twitter
On Sunday evening, the Stadio Olimpico di Torino will host a 156th meeting between Torino and Inter in Serie A, and it doesn’t come as big as this for the visitors. Having relinquished their top spot to bitter rivals AC Milan, Inter must keep up with the pace of their rivals and ensure the top stop remains within reach. The inconsistencies in the last five league games has put them under pressure and they can’t afford to drop any more points. The last meeting between the two sides was in December at San Siro where Denzel Dumfries was the match winner.
The hosts sit 11th in the table and winless in six Serie A games. Given the number of points they have collected, relegation is out of question however they are at risk of finishing outside of the top 10. This is the longest they have gone without a win since December 2020. While they may not have a good record against the top sides, they are not to be underestimated and have found the back of the net in each of the last 10 home games. Torino striker Andrea Belotti has played more home games against Inter (7) than against any other team in Serie A and has never scored, so he’ll be looking to finally break his duck on Sunday.
Torino have four players who are one booking away from suspension: Koffi Djidji, Tommaso Pobega, Ola Aina and Alessandro Buongiorno. Like Martinez, they will have to tread carefully.
Expected XI (3-4-2-1): Berisha; Djidji, Bremer, Rodriguez; Singo, Lukic, Mandragore, Vojvoda; Brekalo, Pjaca; Belotti
- Torino have won only two of their last 17 home games against Inter, failing to score in 10 matches in this period.
- Torino have the largest difference (+14) between points picked up in home games (24) and those gained in away games (10) in Serie A this season.
The scudetto race is reaching its climax and every game matters. Inter would know this better than anyone, and while they sit second in the table, the champions still control their destiny because of the game in hand advantage they still hold. There is added pressure for Inter on Sunday because by the time they take to the pitch, the other title hopefuls will have played their respective matches and whatever the results, the champions will still need to do the job. According to many, last week’s result between Milan and Napoli has taken the Azzurri out of the race, but mathematically, they can still win the league.
Juventus sit fourth and they cannot be overlooked too, even though their chances are slim. For some, the race is between the two Milan teams and former Inter defender Mauro Milanese (speaking to Tuttomercatoweb) described Napoli as the third wheel.
It will be a fight between Inter and Milan. For the Nerazzurri without Lukaku and Hakimi it would be a challenge. The Rossoneri have grown. They have done very well but they are the third wheel. For the Scudetto I see them as slightly behind, but Napoli are doing well.”
The Nerazzurri enjoy a great away record against Torino having won 12 of the last 17 games, losing two and drawing just three. On form, Inter seem to be back on track after recording two successive victories over Salernitana and Liverpool (in the Champions League). So much has been made about Inter’s goals record with question marks over their two star attackers, Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko, but both put on a show last week condemning bottom league dwellers Salernitana to a 5-0 defeat, grabbing a hattrick and brace respectively. Martinez also netted a solitary goal midweek over Liverpool but it was not enough for Inter to proceed. The Argentinian will look to continue his scoring streak on Sunday and Inter couldn’t have hoped for a better time for him to have found his form. He will however, need to be on his best behaviour as a booking will see him miss the clash against Fiorentina due to suspension, alongside Arturo Vidal.
Expected XI (3-5-2): Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Skriniar, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Perisic; Dzeko, Martinez
- Lautaro Martinez has been involved in five goals (four goals and one assist) in his last five Serie A games against Torino.
- Inter (17) have gained the most points from losing positions in Serie A this season, while Torino (4) have picked up the fewest in similar position.
- Inter have drawn three of their last away league games (Atalanta, Napoli and Genoa), the last time they registered a longer run of draws on the road was in December 2004.
Inter have confirmed that medical testing for Marcelo Brozovic was negative which means the midfielder will be available for Simone Inzaghi. He was forced off the pitch due to an injury against Liverpool but the defending champions can now breathe a sigh of relief.
One player that isn’t likely to be available is Dutch defender Stefan de Vrij, with Danilo D’Ambrosio expected to take his place. Besides de Vrij, Inter seems to have a full squad available for Sunday.
Unlike Inter, Torino have had number of injury concerns; Goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic has been on the sidelines due to a hand injury with Etrit Berisha deputising in his absence. The club is yet to offer update on whether he will be available. Sasa Lukic could return in central midfield but Dennis Praet will miss the game as he is still nursing a foot injury.