Inter Milan will be keen to get their Serie A campaign back on track against Empoli on Sunday afternoon.
Inter Milan will travel to Tuscany to take on Empoli in the Serie A on Saturday. Simone Inzaghi’s men have adopted a Jekyll and Hyde moniker in recent weeks when it comes to European and domestic performances.
Winless in the last five league games, the Nerazzurri have progressed to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, where they will face arch-rivals AC Milan for a spot in the showpiece event in Istanbul.
One could argue that the Nerazzurri’s shot at winning Europe’s top prize gives them added hope of taking part in next season’s competition. Their chances of finishing in the top four are far from certain given the recent fall off in form.
Their cause has not been helped following Juventus’s rise to the third spot following the return of their 15 deducted points. Inter go into the game in sixth spot, five points behind fourth-placed AS Roma. Another loss this weekend will more or less see them with an uphill task in the final weeks of the campaign.
The Nerazzurri have an excellent record against Empoli and will go into the game as favourites. The home side are six points off the relegation zone and have struggled to score goals this season. In many ways, there is no better time than now for them to face Inter. The Hard Tackle takes a look at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.
Team News & Tactics
📸🔜 #EmpoliInter pic.twitter.com/Qb7H7aelfD
— Empoli Football Club Official (@EmpoliFC) April 21, 2023
The Tuscan side have some injury concerns, especially in defence Juventus loanee Koni De Winter’s knee injury against Cremonese rules him out of the game. Ardian Ismajli is also facing a race against time to return to the eleven for the weekend.
First-choice goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario is also a doubt for the game, meaning Paolo Zanetti should once again keep his faith in Samuele Perisan in between the sticks. A 4-3-1-2 formation appears to be the way to go for Empoli on the night. Perisan should start in goal behind the back four of Tyronne Ebuehi, Ardian Ismajli, Sebastiano Luperto and Fabiano Parisi.
Jacopo Fazzini, Razvan Marin and Filippo Bandinelli should start as the midfield three, aiming to quell Inter’s numerical advantage in the middle of the park. Tommaso Baldanzi is likely to be deployed in an attacking role, primarily as the playmaker but could be forced deeper should Inter gain the foothold in midfield.
The attack, in particular, has disappointed this season, netting a mere 25 goals in the league. This is the joint second-worst scoring record in Serie A this season and a major reason for Empoli’s struggles. Inter’s rearguard is far from secure and experienced a mini-collapse in the final minutes of their Champions League clash against Benfica.
Empoli will benefit from being more proactive and taking more risks. Francesco Caputo and Roberto Piccoli will be tasked with leading the line, while Mattia Destro and Martin Satriano can come off the bench if needed.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Perisan; Ebuehi, Ismajli, Luperto, Parisi; Fazzini, Marin, Bandinelli; Baldanzi; Caputo, Piccoli
Despite the need to win the game, Inter cannot risk burning out their players who appeared tired in the final minutes of the trip to Benfica. Simone Inzaghi will be expected to rotate his stars around and afford some of them a breather.
Stefan de Vrij and Milan Skriniar are both sidelined with injuries and will be unavailable for the game. Inter have an otherwise fully fit squad and could recall some familiar faces to the starting XI.
Inzaghi is once again likely to retain his preference for the 3-5-2 system, with Andre Onana in goal. The goalkeeper will be protected by the trio of Danilo D’Ambrosio, Francesco Acerbi and Alessandro Bastoni. Acerbi’s lack of pace is a concern that Inter will have to make do with.
Si vola in semifinale di #UCL ⚫🔵
Riviviamo insieme le emozioni di #InterBenfica 👇#ForzaInter pic.twitter.com/4RYC1WUfJ0
— Inter (@Inter) April 21, 2023
Denzel Dumfries and Federico Dimarco will provide the width as the wing-backs, while Marcelo Brozovic will look to set the pace in central midfield. The Croat is likely to be assisted by Nicolo Barella and Hakan Calhanoglu. The trio represent Inter’s best central midfield trio on paper.
Angel Correa and Romelu Lukaku should lead the line on the night, giving Lisandro Martinez a breather. The Argentine is going through a crisis of sorts in front of goal in Serie A and has failed to score with his previous 19 shots.
He is likely to come off the bench on the night if need be. Scoring against Empoli will make Martinez the first Inter player since Mauro Icardi to score 15 or more league goals in three consecutive seasons.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Onana; D’Ambrosio, Acerbi, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Dimarco; Lukaku, Correa
- Empoli have defeated Inter Milan in just four of their previous 29 Serie A meetings.
- A win on Sunday will see Empoli win back-to-back Serie A games against Inter Milan for the first time in their history.
- Inter Milan have kept a clean sheet in their last seven away games to Empoli in Serie A.
- A win will make Inter Milan just the second top flight side to defeat Empoli in five straight games away from home.
- Inter are currently on a five-game winless streak in Serie A. The last time they went on a longer run was in 2017/18
Player to Watch
With both Stefan de Vrij and Milan Skriniar absent, Fracesco Acerbi will become the seniormost figure in the Inter backline for the night. The 35-year-old lacks pace and it is an area that Empoli could look to exploit on the night.
The home side have struggled in front of goal all season and will be water that Inter are there for the taking. Acerbi is good in the air and can hold his own. How well he can read the game and snuff out Empoli’s attacking patterns on the night could determine who walks away with all three points.
Empoli 1-2 Inter Milan
Inter Milan have made it a habit of shooting themselves in the foot, and more of the same can be expected on the night. While Empoli could experience some joy in front of the goal, the visitors’ strength in depth should see them come away with a much-needed win. With key games coming up, it is imperative that Simone Inzaghi’s charges build up momentum.
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