Preview: Salernitana vs. Inter Milan

Preview: Salernitana vs. Inter Milan

Without a win in five games following their controversial cup tie in midweek, Inter Milan aim to halt their decline on Friday, when they visit Serie A strugglers Salernitana.

Inter’s Coppa Italia semi-final clash with Juventus ended in chaos, just days after they had lost their third straight league game. Meanwhile, the Granata are unbeaten in five but have drawn each of their last four.

Less than three weeks since Juve sealed a Serie A double over Simone Inzaghi’s men at San Siro, the teams convened again in Turin, and another defeat was on the cards for Inter until Bremer handled the ball during stoppage time and substitute Romelu Lukaku stepped up to slot home the spot-kick.

All hell then broke loose, as Lukaku was sent off for shouting at the home fans – reportedly after receiving racist abuse – and Inter captain Samir Handanovic saw red after the final whistle following a bust-up with Juan Cuadrado, who was also dismissed. The fall-out spilled over into scuffles in the Allianz Stadium tunnel.

All of which leaves Inzaghi and co level before the second leg later this month but also winless since a 2-0 defeat of Lecce at the start of March; despite narrowly progressing in the Champions League, they have lost three times in Serie A since then.

Their most recent reverse brought up a total of 10 league losses, and being beaten 1-0 by in-form Fiorentina last Saturday leaves them clinging on to a top-four place by virtue of goal difference.

Several other sides now join both Milan clubs in scrapping it out for three spots behind distant leaders Napoli to claim Champions League football – including Juventus. Therefore, seeing off Salernitana for the second time this term is crucial if Inzaghi is to stop the rot.

Beaten 2-0 in October’s reverse fixture, Salernitana’s total deficit to Inter over the clubs’ three meetings since they returned to Serie A now stands at 12 goals – the Salerno club suffered two 5-0 drubbings last season.

Given their visitors’ declining form over recent weeks, Paulo Sousa’s side may fancy their chances of ending such a grim streak though, but first they will have to put a halt to their habit of letting leads slip.

Having twice led at home to Bologna before the international break, but on both occasions conceded soon after, the Granata were a goal to the good heading into the final 20 minutes at Stadio Picco last week yet still could not get the job done.

Bringing up their fourth straight draw, a 1-1 stalemate with Spezia keeps them nine points clear of the relegation zone, though safety – and a third consecutive top-flight campaign at Stadio Arechi – is not sealed quite yet.

A former Inter midfielder, Sousa’s start to life in Campania has certainly seen his team become tougher to beat, and having held Milan at San Siro last month, he will now target an even better result against another second-city giant on Friday.

Salernitana Serie A form:

Inter Milan Serie A form:

Inter Milan form (all competitions):

We say: Salernitana 1-1 Inter Milan
Lacking fluency in the final third, Inter may find their winless run prolonged down in Salerno, as their hosts have not lost since February and offer a goal threat themselves. Pressure is growing on Inzaghi – particularly with several high-profile coaches available in the summer – and he is starting to show the strain.

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