Inter will face Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Sunday, in a Serie A clash which will decide which of the two sides will be playing Champions League football next season.
I Nerazzurri will need to win if they are to leapfrog Lazio into fourth place – hardly a straightforward task against a side who haven’t lost a home match in more than two months. To make matters worse for the visitors, they have lost two of their last three Serie A matches.
Here is how Inter might line up on Sunday, as they attempt to defy the odds in Rome.
Since joining Inter in 2012, former Slovenia international Samir Handanović has made 218 appearances for the Nerazzurri and will most likely start on Sunday.
Manager Luciano Spalletti faces a major selection dilemma. Should he stick with his regular back four (selected here), or should he make sweeping changes – like his Juventus counterpart Massimiliano Allegri before their match against Spalletti’s side?
On the one hand, unsettling his established lineup of João Cancelo, Milan Škriniar, Andrea Ranocchia and Danilo D’Ambrosio could be catastrophic in a game where Inter will desperately want to avoid conceding.
On the other hand, this same back four failed catastrophically against both Juve and Sassuolo.
Nevertheless, Spalletti will likely decide that discretion is the better part of valour, and stick with his established defence.
Again, Spalletti is likely to adopt a conservative approach on Sunday and stick with what appears to be his first-choice midfield five – with Marcelo Brozović and Matías Vecino lining up behind Ivan Perišić on the left, Rafinha in the centre and Antonio Candreva on the right.
Perišić’s creative flair and eye for goal could prove vital in Sunday’s clash – he has netted 11 goals and created nine in all competitions for Inter this season.
With 28 league goals this season, striker Mauro Icardi is just one behind Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile. With the Lazio forward unlikely to feature on Sunday, Icardi will no doubt relish the opportunity to overtake Immobile and win this season’s Capocannoniere.
Sunday’s clash could potentially prove to be Icardi’s final match for I Nerazzurri – the Argentina striker’s exploits have reportedly attracted the interest of several European clubs, not least Chelsea and Real Madrid.
Should Inter fail to win and thus miss out on next season’s Champions League, they may struggle to retain Icardi’s services.