Preview: Inter Milan vs. Sassuolo

Preview: Inter Milan vs. Sassuolo

Following another big-game defeat in midweek, Serie A champions Inter Milan aim to get back on track immediately as they host mid-table Sassuolo at San Siro on Sunday evening.

Losses to Milan and now Liverpool have seen the Nerazzurri falter in recent weeks, and last Saturday’s draw with Napoli leaves them one point adrift of their city rivals at the top of the table.

As a measure of their Serie A supremacy over the past 18 months, after Derby defeat against Milan and a 1-1 draw versus third-placed Napoli, Inter could fail to win for three league matches in a row for the first time since January 2020 if they fail to take all three points on Sunday.

Simone Inzaghi has not only seen his side pick up just a point from two of the most challenging fixtures of their league campaign, but they were also clinically picked off by Liverpool in the first leg of the clubs’ last-16 Champions League tie on Wednesday.

While the Scudetto holders’ hopes of continuing their first journey through the knockout rounds of Europe’s elite competition for over a decade may be waning, there remains every chance of a domestic double to surpass even last year’s achievements.

Into the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia – where they will face off against Milan over two legs – the Nerazzurri are still within a point of the Serie A summit and retain a game in hand over their closest rivals.

They may have suffered just a fourth competitive loss at San Siro since the beginning of 2021 in midweek, but will now meet opponents of a rather more modest stature than the six-time European champions as they look to bounce back straight away.

Unbeaten in their last six Serie A meetings with Sassuolo, Inter have won each of the last three – including October’s reverse fixture, in which star strikers Edin Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez struck either side of a Domenico Berardi penalty for Inzaghi’s men.

Ahead of their trip to Milan, a Sassuolo side which has lost two of their last three games in league and cup will be aware that Inter have scored the most set-piece goals in Serie A this season, while only relegation-threatened Cagliari have conceded more than their own troubling tally of 19

Furthermore, while the champions have so far salvaged the most points from trailing situations (and, incidentally, Sassuolo have recovered the second-most) Alessio Dionisi’s team have lost a total of 17 points from leading positions – the league’s second-worst record in that regard.

As a result of such failings, the Neroverdi remain mired in mid-table mediocrity – being 12 points adrift of sixth-placed Lazio in the competition for continental football and nine clear of the bottom three.

With surely too much quality in the squad to become embroiled in a late-season battle against the drop, a club which has finished eighth in the last two campaigns will be aiming to trend upwards in the coming weeks – particularly with Venezia, Salernitana and Spezia to meet before the end of next month.

Sassuolo, however, have now won only one of their last eight league games following Roma’s late equaliser in last weekend’s dramatic 2-2 draw, so their journey to the Meazza is likely to be taken in some trepidation.

Inter Milan Serie A form:
Inter Milan form (all competitions):
Sassuolo Serie A form:
Sassuolo form (all competitions):

We say: Inter Milan 3-1 Sassuolo
Frustrated by recent events in major matches, where they have come out on the wrong side of the result despite decent performances, Inter could take it out on opponents who are short of confidence and concede at a rate of nearly two goals per game on the road.

While Sassuolo certainly pose an attacking threat of their own, the champions are set to take maximum points in the first of three less challenging league fixtures.

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