Resuming their Serie A campaigns with a heavyweight encounter at San Siro, potential title rivals Inter Milan and Roma meet on Saturday evening.
On a rare day of setbacks for Italy’s top teams just before the international break, both sides lost, so will be keen to take three points and keep pace with the early pace-setters.
When Nicolo Barella put Inter a goal ahead inside the first five minutes at Udinese’s Dacia Arena, when the Nerazzurri last took to the field, it seemed that they were well on the way to securing their third successive victory.
However, like Juventus, Milan and this week’s opponents Roma, they succumbed to defeat by the final whistle, amid a series of unusual results in Serie A’s seventh round.
Simone Inzaghi’s side lost their third straight away game in the top flight – the first time Inter have done so since 2017 – as their in-form hosts fought back to equalise and then seal a 3-1 victory through two late goals.
After back-to-back defeats in the Derby della Madonnina and to Bayern Munich in Europe, it seemed Inzaghi had steadied the ship when a late win over Torino was followed by victory against Czech champions Viktoria Plzen to move third in a Champions League group also featuring Bayern and Barcelona.
However, the Nerazzurri have now lost at least three of their first seven Serie A matches for just the 10th time in their history, and on only one previous occasion have they registered four in the first eight – 11 years ago.
A repeat of such a start would be unthinkable; raising the stakes still further on Saturday. Yet, seventh-placed Inter can at least welcome Roma to the second city having won each of their last seven home games in the league – keeping four clean sheets in the process.
Not only that, but Inter are also unbeaten in 10 top-flight matches against their counterparts from the capital – the club’s best streak against the Giallorossi for more than 80 years.
In keeping with their travails against Serie A’s other top-six contenders, Roma’s most recent league victory over Inter came as long ago as February 2017.
Jose Mourinho’s current side, though, arrive in Milan one point ahead of their opponents in the standings, after a promising start to the 2022-23 campaign.
Taking 13 points from a possible 15 to begin the season led to talk of a sustained Scudetto push – particularly with former Inter transfer target Paulo Dybala settling in so impressively since switching from Juventus – but such form faltered approaching the international break.
Roma have lost two of their last three league games – as many as in the previous 21 – following a 4-0 thumping by surprise package Udinese and an unfortunate home loss versus Atalanta. Despite dominating much of the game, the Giallorossi were stung by Giorgio Scalvini’s 35-minute strike last time out, from La Dea’s only shot on goal.
Missing Dybala due to a pre-match hamstring pull, Mourinho was forced to adapt his starting XI, and they sorely missed the contribution of a player who had opened the scoring in their previous two games and was also involved in five of their eight Serie A goals this season.
While the mercurial forward’s participation this weekend remains in the balance, Roma can still turn to last term’s top scorer Tammy Abraham, summer recruit Andrea Belotti and recent returnee Nicolo Zaniolo to threaten what has been an unusually vulnerable Inter defence. And, of course, Mourinho will need no extra motivation than facing his former club.
Inter Milan Serie A form:
Inter Milan form (all competitions):
Roma Serie A form:
Roma form (all competitions):
We say: Inter Milan 1-0 Roma
In the first seven games of this Serie A season, Inter have netted 13 goals compared to 22 at this stage in 2021-22, while Roma Only separated from top spot in Serie A by goal difference ahead of the eighth round, Atalanta BC host an inconsistent Fiorentina side on Sunday.