Two of the form sides in Serie A clash at Stadio Artemio Franchi on Tuesday, as champions Inter Milan visit Fiorentina.
While the Nerazzurri crushed Bologna 6-1 at the weekend, their midweek hosts were posting a third straight win, which lifts them into the top five of the early-season standings.
Even if their Champions League campaign got off to a losing start last week – as they were beaten at home by Real Madrid – on Saturday, Inter blew away their latest domestic opponents with three goals in each half at a jubilant San Siro.
Lautaro Martinez kicked off the scoring in just the sixth minute and his strike partner Edin Dzeko rounded off proceedings with a second-half double to send Bologna back to Emilia-Romagna with their tails between their legs.
Such a comprehensive victory should now have shaken off any frustration felt at losing late on to Real and being held to a 2-2 draw by Sampdoria last weekend, having led on two occasions, so Inter are well set to mount a successful defence of their title.
Their perfect start to the season may have come to an end, but Simone Inzaghi’s men are still very much setting the standard at the top of Serie A, with new boys Joaquin Correa, Hakan Calhanoglu and Dzeko all making an impact so far.
Inzaghi’s replacement for the departed Achraf Hakimi had taken a little longer to settle into life at San Siro – waiting patiently for a start behind Matteo Darmian – but the inimitable Denzel Dumfries was at his marauding best against Bologna and looks set for a spectacular Calcio career.
Topped-up on confidence again, Inter now take a trip to Florence, where they meet a side they defeated on no less than three occasions last term: home and away in the league, and in the last 16 of the cup. However, this season, their Tuscan counterparts may prove a far sterner test under new management.
Having backed up their first win of the 2021-22 campaign with another success in Bergamo last week, Fiorentina were able to make it three wins from three on Saturday, as they took care of business against Genoa.
Though they failed to break the deadlock until the hour mark, when substitute Riccardo Saponara fired in an unstoppable strike from the edge of the area, Vincenzo Italiano’s team ultimately ran out 2-1 winners, with their hosts’ consolation coming only from the last kick of the game, via the penalty spot.
Saponara – who spent much of last season out on loan at Spezia, under Italiano’s management – also deliciously set up Giacomo Bonaventura’s goal at Marassi, and his re-emergence is symbolic of renewed belief under their enterprising head coach.
After a prolonged period of mediocrity at the grand old club, long-suffering Fiorentina fans are celebrating winning three consecutive games in a Serie A season for the first time since October 2019, and it was six years ago when the club last posted at least nine points from their first four league outings.
In that 2015-16 campaign, the Viola finished fifth at the end of the season – just three points behind Inter. While such giddy heights are surely out of bounds this term, a top-half position could be within their grasp should such improvement continue.
However, their toughest task so far awaits on Tuesday evening, as they welcome the formidable Scudetto-holders to the Franchi.
Fiorentina Serie A form:
Fiorentina form (all competitions):
Inter Milan Serie A form:
Inter Milan form (all competitions):
We say: Fiorentina 1-2 Inter Milan
Inter have reigned supreme over Fiorentina in recent months and can continue to build another Serie A winning streak with victory over their Tuscan counterparts on Tuesday.
Even if the Nerazzurri rotate their considerable resources, a lethal forward line can surely slice through the attack-minded Viola on several occasions – and they rarely fail to capitalise.