Having lost top spot in Serie A and exited the Champions League, Inter Milan will aim to revive their title aspirations when they meet Torino on Sunday.
Despite successive wins, the Nerazzurri are out of Europe and have a deficit to make up in the league, so will hope to take advantage of their hosts’ faltering form.
When a superb strike by Lautaro Martinez put Inter ahead in their last-16 second leg tie with Liverpool in midweek, dreams of a Champions League comeback remained alive, but events soon afterwards halted hopes of a quarter-final place.
Former Manchester United forward Alexis Sanchez was sent off just two minutes later, having received a second yellow card, and the prospect of pushing the game into extra time duly slid away from Simone Inzaghi’s side.
Even ending their opponents’ seven-match winning streak in the Champions League was not enough for the Nerazzurri to complete a turnaround from losing 2-0 at San Siro in the first leg, as their hosts – who had struck the woodwork three times – progressed 2-1 on aggregate.
Leaving Inter with the mere matter of a domestic double to target, they return to the task of defending their Scudetto this weekend, sitting two points off the lead held by city rivals Milan.
With his first Serie A goals since December, Martinez burst into life during last week’s 5-0 thumping of bottom club Salernitana – netting a hat-trick which lifts him onto 14 league goals for the season.
That also ended a barren patch for the champions, who had previously endured a four-game run without either a win or a goal, and they will expect to now end their streak of three away draws domestically by beating a side they tend to dominate.
Already struggling to maintain their pursuit of a top-half finish, Torino will welcome Inter to Piedmont having lost each of the teams’ last five league encounters – conceding 2.6 goals on average during that time.
Indeed, the Granata have won only two of their last 17 home games against Sunday’s visitors in Serie A; failing to score on 10 occasions. Ambitions will be low this weekend, then, as recent results have also seen them slip down the standings.
Though occupying 11th place, Il Toro have not won any of their last six league games – threatening to spoil the positive work done by coach Ivan Juric during the first few months of his reign.
Having both drawn and lost three times during their success-free spell, their most recent matches have seen a home reverse to lowly Cagliari followed by last Sunday’s goalless draw at mid-table rivals Bologna.
That defeat to the Sardinians aside, Torino have performed particularly well on home soil this term, and theirs is the largest difference between points picked up at home (24) and away (10) in the Italian top flight.
Thanks to Juric’s influence, they have been far more defensively sound at home than in previous campaigns, but will surely need to summon up such resilience when the Scudetto holders roll into town.
Torino Serie A form:
Inter Milan Serie A form:
Inter Milan form (all competitions):
We say: Torino 0-1 Inter Milan
While Inter have gained the most points from losing positions in Serie A this season, Torino (with just four) have accrued the fewest. So if the home side fall behind, an overdue win becomes even more improbable.
Even if they are not yet back to the free-flowing football of earlier this year, the champions should have enough guile to break down their hosts – keeping them in touch with their fellow title contenders.