Geoffrey Kondogbia is eyeing his first San Siro goal as Inter prepare to host Empoli in Serie A on Saturday.
The France midfielder signed for Roberto Mancini’s men last June in a €31 million move from Monaco, but has scored only once in 28 appearances – and that came away at Torino last October.
The match against Empoli will be the last chance for Kondogbia, whose agent insisted this week he will be staying at San Siro after a difficult debut campaign, to find the net at home this season, with Inter’s final game coming away at Sassuolo.
Defeat at Lazio last time out ensured it was impossible for Inter, who led the table as recently as January 9, to catch Roma in the third and final Champions League place.
Now, Mancini’s men need to record a victory over either Empoli or Sassuolo in their last two games if they are to be sure of beating Fiorentina to fourth place in Serie A.
“It’s my last chance to find the net at home and I will try,” the 23-year-old told Inter channel.
“San Siro is not just any old ground, it’s special. I was a bit nervous on my debut but I was pleased to play there.
“We have to prepare for the match as best we can and work up until the last day.”
On his future, Kondogbia added: “I’m definitely staying at Inter. It was a bit tough to settle initially because it was a big change in my life.
“Football is our job and we have to adapt and improve as much as possible. Ligue 1 is more physical, La Liga more technical and Serie A more tactical.”
The Lazio loss was Inter’s 10th of the season and means they have suffered the same number of defeats after 36 games as they had at the same period last season – when they went on to pick up three points from a possible six.
Last season’s meeting at San Siro was a thrilling encounter on the final game of the season, Inter winning 4-3 thanks to a double from Mauro Icardi.
Such a scoreline this time around may be unlikely, though, as visitors Empoli have failed to find the net in five of their last seven league games.
Marco Giampaolo’s men have slipped down to 12th in the table having picked up an abysmal three wins from 19 matches in 2016.
The first match in that miserable sequence was the reverse fixture against Inter, which the then-Serie A leaders won 1-0 thanks to Icardi.
Jeison Murillo is suspended for Inter after his red card at Lazio, while Levan Mchedlidze is banned for the visitors.
First-choice goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski (hand) is still out for Empoli, but understudy Alberto Pelagotti has kept a clean sheet in three of his five Serie A appearances in 2015-16.
Key Opta stats:
– Inter have won 15 of their 21 Serie A meetings against Empoli, losing three times (always by a 0-1 scoreline).
– These two sides have never shared a draw in 10 Serie A encounters at San Siro: nine wins for the Nerazzurri and one for Empoli in January 2004.
– Inter have been shown a red card every 43 fouls conceded, the lowest ratio in Serie A this season.
– Empoli have lost the joint-most points from leading situations in the league this term, 18.
– Mauro Icardi has scored three goals in as many Serie A games against Empoli, including a double at San Siro in May 2015.
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