Two of Serie A’s form sides clash at San Siro on Saturday, as champions Inter Milan seek to take a step closer to defending the Scudetto by beating resurgent Roma.
Though Inter – who reached the Coppa Italia final in midweek with a Milan Derby win – would return to the summit with their fifth successive victory, the Giallorossi kept their unbeaten run going with a late equaliser at Napoli last time out and are sprinting towards the finish line.
After the events of Good Friday – when Inter temporarily took top spot off city rivals Milan, only to slip back down the pecking order after the Rossoneri responded with a win of their own – events on Tuesday night ensured the Nerazzurri’s fans would have the last laugh.
Some clinical finishing by Lautaro Martinez, who appears to be shaking off his slumber at just the right time, saw Simone Inzaghi’s side cruise through to next month’s Coppa Italia final with a 3-0 aggregate victory.
That keeps dreams of a domestic double alive for the reigning champions – who will meet old foes Juventus in the showpiece finale at Stadio Olimpico – as they could be just six games away from defending their title.
Before grabbing the headlines with success in the Derby della Madonnina, Inter had brushed past mid-table Spezia last time out in the league, with midfield maestro Marcelo Brozovic finally scoring his first league goal of the season in a 3-1 victory.
Despite trailing Milan by two points, the Nerazzurri still have a game in hand on their fellow Scudetto hopefuls – with Napoli yet to be totally discounted – after following an ultimately fruitless Champions League victory at Anfield with two draws and three wins in Serie A.
Though they now face their toughest remaining fixture on paper, Inter are actually unbeaten in their last nine league matches against Roma and have not lost against them at San Siro since 2017.
Facing a third consecutive league loss to Inter for the first time since the turn of the century, Roma were also eliminated in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals by Saturday’s hosts.
Their fortunes have not improved, then, under the tutelage of former Inter supremo Jose Mourinho, who took charge of the Nerazzurri for 76 Serie A matches in a hugely successful spell between 2008 and 2010.
However, more recently, the capital club have developed into Calcio’s most durable outfit and will now meet the champions on the back of the longest unbeaten run in the top flight – going without defeat for 12 games while winning seven times in the process.
That represents the best streak for the Giallorossi in a single campaign since 2016, but it was only kept intact by Stephan El Shaarawy’s stoppage-time intervention at Stadio Maradona on Monday.
The rarely-used substitute, who has been bedevilled by injuries of late, struck Roma’s latest in a long line of last-gasp goals, which drew them level with Napoli, who desperately needed all three points to stay in contention for the title.
Following a late flurry inside the final 10 minutes to secure a 2-1 victory over bottom side Salernitana a week earlier – plus other dramatic strikes against Vitesse, Udinese and Sassuolo – Mourinho’s men remain a dangerous proposition heading into the latter stages of any game.
Also set to take part in the Europa Conference League semi-finals next week, when they travel to Leicester for the first leg, fifth-placed Roma are clearly on the up – with the last Champions League spot only five points away.
Inter Milan Serie A form:
Inter Milan form (all competitions):
Roma Serie A form:
Roma form (all competitions):
We say: Inter Milan 1-1 Roma
Roma are the Serie A side with the most different players to have scored at least twice this term (12) – closely followed by Inter (11) – but Tammy Abraham remains their greatest threat to the champions.
They have also been more sure-footed defensively in recent weeks, with fit-again Chris Smalling to the fore, so Mourinho can throw a spanner in the works by restricting his old employers to a point.