A brilliant week at San Siro sets Inter Milan up for a visit to Venezia on Saturday evening, as the reigning champions seek to close the gap further to the teams at the top.
Consecutive wins against leaders Napoli and Champions League rivals Shakhtar Donetsk have left the Nerazzurri in good shape before a hectic December schedule, while their hosts have won their last two games to rise up the Serie A standings.
With their place confirmed in the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time since the 2011-12 season – a year after they last lifted Europe’s top prize – Inter can prepare for the return to league action with their destiny decided ahead of the final matchday.
After Real Madrid beat Sheriff in midweek, the Nerazzurri’s 2-0 home victory over Shakhtar Donetsk in the earlier kickoff proved enough to cap an excellent few days work for Simone Inzaghi’s men in Milan.
While Edin Dzeko was at the double on Wednesday, his strike partner Lautaro Martinez scored the third in last weekend’s absorbing contest with Napoli, before which Inter trailed their southern counterparts by seven points.
Following an eventful 90 minutes, the champions put the first dent in the previously unbeaten Neapolitans’ Scudetto hopes by recording a 3-2 win which keeps them third in the table.
The key to their success has been a rampant attack, who have barely missed the departed Romelu Lukaku during the opening months of the campaign. Indeed, only Bayern Munich and Liverpool have netted more goals than Inter’s 32 in the top five European leagues throughout 2021-22 so far.
They have also scored in each of their last 16 league matches on the road – at a rate of nearly two goals per game – with their previous best streaks in that regard being 17 during 2002, and a run of 18 some 70 years ago.
Thanks to an already significant aerial presence being bolstered by Dzeko’s arrival, Inter have registered the most headed goals throughout the continent’s major championships too, so their modest opponents during the next week – they host Spezia after the trip to Venice – will need to be at their best to avoid being blitzed
Definite signs of a Venezia revival have continued to be seen in recent weeks, as after their brilliant comeback to beat Roma at Stadio Pier Luigi Penzo before the international break, the Lagunari were winners again upon their return to Serie A action.
Following a previous run of just one point from three games, Paolo Zanetti’s side now have six from their last two, as they edged out Bologna last weekend thanks to another vital David Okereke goal.
The Nigerian striker, who now has four goals from his first 12 appearances since signing during the summer, scored what turned out to be the winner at Dall’Ara just after the hour mark; following up on his decisive strike in the Roma win.
Though the Arancioneroverdi may face a season-long battle to avoid returning to Serie B, from where they emerged via the playoffs last spring, they now have the opportunity – albeit as underdogs against the reigning champions – to win three consecutive top-flight matches for the first time since 1962.
To achieve the dream of turning over Inter and extending their three-game unbeaten run, Zanetti will need even more input from his forwards, given Venezia still average under a goal per game. It certainly will not get any easier in the coming weeks either, as they meet Atalanta, in-form rivals Verona, and Juventus before the return of the Coppa Italia in mid-December.
Venezia Serie A form:
Inter Milan Serie A form:
Inter Milan form (all competitions):
We say: Venezia 0-2 Inter Milan
It has been a productive few days for Inter, and though legs might be tiring in the midst of an intense fixture schedule, their deep squad contains enough quality to make the difference against improving Venezia.
The champions may need to make full use of the five substitutions rule to seal the deal, but are set to leave the lagoon with maximum points, as their pursuit of the leaders continues apace.