Inter now host the current club of former boss Jose Mourinho at San Siro, where the visitors’ star striker is assured of a ‘warm’ welcome.
Two wins since returning from the international break have left Inter in good shape both domestically and in Europe, as after last week’s 3-0 victory over Torino, in midweek they moved onto seven points from a possible nine in Champions League Group D.
Last season’s beaten finalists put Red Bull Salzburg to the sword on Tuesday evening, when Alexis Sanchez and Hakan Calhanoglu were on the scoresheet, just days after the latter also scored in Turin to help take Inter top of the Serie A standings.
With an impressive record of 24 goals scored and just five conceded, Simone Inzaghi’s side have won seven of their first nine league matches and sit just above city rivals Milan, who slipped up against Juventus last week.
However, the Nerazzurri have failed to win either of their last two home fixtures in Serie A – losing to Sassuolo and drawing with Bologna – so before hitting the road for a Lombardy derby with Atalanta and the reverse fixture against Salzburg they will be keen to restore order at San Siro.
As some familiar figures from the club’s glorious past return to the grand old venue, Inter fans would love nothing better than seeing off Roma’s challenge there this weekend.
Precedent is certainly stacked in the second-city side’s favour: they are unbeaten in 11 of their last 12 league matches against their capital-city counterparts, winning four of the last five.
Roma’s only win in that grim sequence came just over a year ago, when one Romelu Lukaku was still an Inter player, having re-signed for the Nerazzurri on loan from Chelsea.
Since then, a whole river of water has flowed under the bridge for the Belgian striker, who saw his permanent return to San Siro cancelled after secret transfer talks with Juventus were revealed; he then moved to Rome and has begun to thrive again.
Under his former boss Jose Mourinho, Lukaku’s goals have fired Roma up the league table, and having managed just one win from their first six league games this term, they have now won each of the last three – equalling their best such run under Mourinho.
Most recently, the Giallorossi scraped a 1-0 home win over 10-man Monza thanks to Stephan El Shaarawy’s late strike at Stadio Olimpico, and they went on to beat Europa League opponents Slavia Prague 2-0 on Thursday evening, when Lukaku found the target once again.
Closing in on qualification for the knockout rounds after making a perfect start to their Group G campaign, Roma will want to go one better than last season’s final loss by lifting the trophy in Dublin next year, but more urgently they still have plenty of ground to make up in Serie A.
Mourinho – who has lost six of his last seven games against former clubs in all competitions – has staved off questions about the future by tightening his team’s defence and leading them back into top-six contention, but meeting Inter in Milan will now truly test their mettle.
Inter Milan Serie A form:
Inter Milan form (all competitions):
Roma Serie A form:
Roma form (all competitions):
We say: Inter Milan 2-1 Roma
Benefiting from two extra days to recover from their European exertions – and boasting more squad depth than their visitors – Inter are set to make it three wins on the spin in all competitions, cutting Roma’s resurgence short. The Giallorossi’s absentees are among their most important players, and Inzaghi’s men can be ruthless in front of goal.