Inter Milan travel to Sassuolo this Saturday in hope of returning to the top of Serie A after they let their lead slip last weekend.
The Nerazzurri were unbeaten in the league this season before a shock 3-1 defeat to Udinese at San Siro last Saturday saw them drop to third, two points behind table-topping Napoli.
Sassuolo are still precariously hovering just three points above the drop zone in 15th despite picking up some recent form. They have won their previous two games in Serie A, beating relegation rivals Crotone and more impressively high flying Sampdoria.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the clash at the Citta del Tricolore.
Sassuolo have had some famous home victories against Inter in recent years, most recently on May 14, 2016 when they beat them 3-1 at the Citta del Tricolore for the second season in a row.
A defensive mix up and deflection gifted Sassuolo an early lead in the sixth minute through Matteo Politano. Lorenzo Pellegrini – now of Roma – then slotted in a square ball to double the lead before a poor error at the back allowed Rodrigo Palacio to pull one back for Inter on the half hour mark.
However, Sassuolo’s two goal cushion was restored just nine minutes later as Politano grabbed his second of the game with a powerful header. After an action packed first-half Jeison Murillo got himself a straight red card in the 59th minute to make it more comfortable for the Neroverdi to hold on and continue their remarkable climb up the table.
Mauro Icardi v Francesco Acerbi
Mauro Icardi has been on fire this season, scoring 17 Serie A goals already. Whilst improving his goalscoring abilities, he has also become a leader on the pitch for the Nerazzurri and has captained them to a near flawless start to the campaign. He faces one of the most underrated defenders in the league on Saturday in centre-back Francesco Acerbi.
With so many great Italian central defenders in the league, like Georgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli to name a few, Acerbi is often overlooked. However, after beating cancer twice, the Italian rock has continued to prove why he’s one of the top Serie A centre-backs with his solid performances this season.
Domenico Berardi vs Yuri Nagatomo
Domenico Berardi is the diamond in this Sassuolo side, and although he hasn’t quite hit the heights this season with just one goal and two assists, his performances have continued to prove why he’s regarded as one of the most promising young Italian talents.
He’ll be up against Yuto Nagatomo who is tipped to replace Davide Santon at left-back after the Italian’s poor performance against Udinese. It will be interesting to see how the Japan international copes with Berardi who tends to cut in on his favoured left-foot.
Apart from Spalletti reverting to his preferred left-back choice of Nagatomo over Santon after his struggles against Udinese, there are not likely to be many changes. Matias Vecino is suspended after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season, and is likely to be replaced by Roberto Gagliardini in defensive midfield.
Giussepi Iachini is expected to keep the same starting XI that magnificently defeated sixth-placed Sampdoria 1-0 last time out.
Potential Sassuolo Starting Lineup: Consigli; Lirola, Goldaniga, Acerbi, Peluso; Missiroli, Magnanelli, Duncan; Berardi, Falcinelli, Politano.
Potential Inter Starting Lineup: Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Skriniar, Miranda, Nagatomo; Borja Valero, Gagliardini; Candreva, Brozovic, Perisic; Icardi.
Inter will be looking to bounce back from their poor showing against Udinese last weekend and nothing less than three points will do if they are to keep up the chase at the top of Serie A.
Whilst Sassuolo have done better in recent weeks, they have been poor this season and have struggled to keep clean sheets – a big problem against a striker of Icardi’s prowess.
Although away from home and a potential tough fixture to prove their ability to recuperate, Inter should win.
Prediction: Sassuolo 1-2 Inter Milan