Inter have been handed countless get-out-of-jail cards through the season. But it all comes down to this, facing Lazio in Rome on the final day of the season. Match at 20:45CET
Here we are. Last day of the season in Rome against Lazio with all to play for. A win of any score will see Inter qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2011, any other result means the hosts go through to Europe’s elite competition instead.
While Lazio’s form has recently been a bit hot and cold, thus allowing Inter back into the Champions League race; it is important to remember that they have not lost since the 3rd of March against Juventus. That being said, in their two last matches, the team from the capital looked very tired and weary after having nearly played a full season domestically and in the Europa League.Their top scorer and current league top scorer Ciro Immobile has made a surprising recovery from his thigh injury and will be expected to start, however, midfield stalwarts Marco Parolo and Luis Alberto will miss the game to injury. A question mark remains over future Nerazzurro Stefan De Vrij’s level of involvement in the match, but most pundits expect the Dutch international to start the match.
To put a rein on Lazio’s threats, keeping in mind the hosts’ diminished squad, Inter will have to keep an eye on Sergej Milinkovic-Savic through the middle, Felipe Anderson on the flank and Immobile in the area. With those three centers of movement under control, Inter can then focus on playing their own game going forward.
Perhaps most important for the Nerazzurri tonight will be the work rate and chemistry between Rafinha and Marcelo Brozovic, the two players have been the main route through which Inter have built-up any attack and if the pair are on point, then Inter can transition competently from the back and then distribute the ball effectively to the attacking trio. Either or both of Rafinha and Brozo will be expected to help overload the Inter attacking positions, with special effort required of the Croatian not to ignore his crucial defensive duties as well.
Both Joao Miranda and Roberto Gagliardini have been deemed fit to play tonight. Italian media seem to believe that Gagliardini will start on the bench making way for Matias Vecino in the midfield, but considering how Inter looked against Sassuolo last week, it will be no surprise if either Gags or Borja Valero are picked ahead of the Uruguayan.
Probable Inter line-up (subject to change): (4-2-3-1) Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Miranda, Skriniar, Cancelo; Brozovic, Gagliardini; Perisic, Rafinha, Candreva; Icardi (C)
Last Season: Lazio 1 – 3 Inter
Last 10 Head to Head: Lazio have a slight edge over Inter in the two sides’ previous ten encounters with five win’s to the Nerazzurri’s four. Perhaps more importantly however, Inter have beaten Lazio in two of their last three matches in Rome.
Keep an Eye on
Antonio Candreva: To call Candreva’s season disappointing would be a disservice to the concept of understatement. Not only has the Italian winger not scored once all season long, but his deteriorating ability to provide assists and make good decisions in front of goal has made him unwatchable for many parts of the season. Candreva now comes up against his previous employers and it would almost be poetic that the once moment of redemption is when he finally gets off the mark to condemn the Biancocelesti to Europa League football and lift Inter back where they belong.
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi
Assistants: Di Liberatore, Di Fiore
Fourth Official: Guida
Additional Assistants: Irrati, Vuoto
Prediction & Authors Note
Prediction & scorers: Lazio 1-3 Inter with Candreva opening the scoring and Icardi bagging a brace.
Author’s Note: Today there will be no excuses. The three points are there for the taking and only Inter can stand in their own way of Champions League qualification. If Inter perform to their potential and ability they can absolutely blow Lazio out of the water. It’s just a matter of whether their mindset is in the right place.