Crowned ‘Winter Champions’ at the weekend, Inter Milan will seek to extend their scintillating form on Wednesday evening when they host mid-table Torino at San Siro.
Serie A’s Scudetto holders will not want the year to end, given a streak of six league wins on the spin, and they start as strong favourites despite their visitors’ recently improved fortunes.
Following a draw in the Derby della Madonnina in early November, every league game since has ended with maximum points for Inter, who have won their last five without even conceding.
A cumulative tally of 16-0 accurately reflects the Nerazzurri’s domestic dominance over recent weeks, in a spectacular period when they have gone from seven points short of the summit to four points clear of the chasing pack.
Although they have been aided by the faltering form of chief rivals Napoli and Milan, there has been a familiar sense of momentum building around Simone Inzaghi’s squad – the bulk of whom secured the club’s first title for a decade last spring.
Their most recent conquest was the division’s bottom side Salernitana, who put up little resistance in a 5-0 drubbing last Friday. After Ivan Perisic opened the scoring in the 11th minute, four more names were added to the scoresheet as Inter became the first team to have netted more than 100 Serie A goals in a calendar year since Milan in 1950.
Furthermore, they have now scored more than 47 times in the first half of a top-flight season for the first time since that very same year.
Records aplenty have been threatened or tumbled under both Inzaghi and his predecessor Antonio Conte, and ahead of their final San Siro outing before the mid-season break, the Nerazzurri have already won 18 home league games in 2021 – just shy of the all-time Serie A record.
Having been awarded the unofficial title of Campioni d’Inverno (Winter Champions) with a game to spare, Inter can now turn their attention to turning over opponents whom they have beaten in each of their last four league meetings, while scoring at least twice per game.
Following a run of just one victory from their previous five games, Torino returned to winning ways on Sunday in a close-fought encounter with mid-table rivals Verona.
Head coach Ivan Juric led the Granata to the three points against his former side, as Tommaso Pobega scored soon after the visitors’ Giangiacomo Magnani was sent off for a desperate last-man challenge on Antonio Sanabria – a decision remarkably only reached following the intervention of the VAR.
That success against the Scaligieri brought Il Toro their second successive league win after previously beating Bologna 2-1, and moves them into the top half of the table – a stark contrast to last season’s troubles.
Six points from six may have softened the blow from last Thursday’s Coppa Italia exit to Sampdoria, but Juric will still be concerned about his team’s lack of progress outside of Turin, ahead of perhaps their most testing road trip of the season.
With only one victory in eight attempts away from home – added to their recent cup defeat at Marassi – Torino are certainly long-shot outsiders to end a streak of failing to win their last match of the past four calendar years when they take to the field in Milan.
Inter Milan Serie A form:
Inter Milan form (all competitions):
Torino Serie A form:
Torino form (all competitions):
We say: Inter Milan 2-0 Torino
As Torino boast one of the best defensive records in the division – a remarkable turnaround under Juric, given the club’s previous rearguard woes – Inter’s task in finishing off their special year with a win may not be straightforward.
Unbeaten in their last 10 league fixtures ahead of the game – recording eight wins in the process – the hosts have enough momentum on their side to break through any Granata resistance, as their raiding wide men assert dominance over those of the visitors.