Serie A leaders Inter Milan will be looking to extend their impressive run of results when they face out-of-sorts Lazio and ensure they remain at a safe distance from their title rivals. Meanwhile, the Biancocelesti are slipping further down the league standings and will be effectively in the relegation tussle unless they can arrest the latest downtrend any time soon.
After Roberto Mancini struggled to get the maximum out of his players last term, there was nothing that could suggest Inter would be so impressive in the 2015/2016 campaign. But, it appears that the former Manchester City manager did brilliantly to patch up the leaky defence at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, quickly finding the correct balance in the side, and things just progressed from there. In all fairness, the Nerazzurri have not exactly been firing on all cylinders, bagging mere 22 goals in 16 league fixtures, but the excellent defensive record of just nine conceded goals in that period ensured that was enough to create a four-point cushion at the Serie A summit. The narrow defeat to title rivals Napoli clearly did nothing to destabilise Inter as they went on to record another trademark 1-0 win over Genoa before hammering the likes of Udinese and Cagliari to prove they can also win games in style. The team are now playing with a great deal of confidence and with several important players back to the side, they look a good bet to see off struggling Lazio and cement the first place in the standings.
Gary Medel, Danilo D’Ambrosio and Davide Santon are all back in contention, with the first two widely expected to be in the starting line-up.
Nemanja Vidic remains sidelined with a back problem, while Marcelo Brozovic appears set to be recalled, with Ivan Perisic dropping to the bench.
The same team that narrowly missed out on a second-place finish last term cannot be recognized this season and the reality is the Biancocelesti are now much closer to the bottom three than the European positions. Even though the league campaign is definitely the priority, Lazio have done fairly well in other competitions, as they are still in the race for Europa League and Coppa Italia trophies, but their Serie A form has been utterly disappointing of late. The record of just two points from last seven league fixtures is the worst in the league, with rock bottom Hellas Verona the only other side boasting such a poor current form. Having said that, Lazio clearly have enough quality to turn things around, but they do need a morale-boosting triumph to return to the right track. Stefano Pioli’s charges did return to winning ways in midweek as they defeated Udinese in Coppa Italia, but another under-par performance did not exactly suggest that the Biancocelesti can put a dent into Inter’s title bid.
Stefano Pioli should have starting right-back Dusan Basta back to the side, but Federico Marchetti is out after suffering an injury against Sampdoria.
Meanwhile, the likes of Miroslav Klose, Santiago Gentiletti, Stefan de Vrij, Senad Lulic and Ricardo Kishna all remain in the infirmary.
Key Factors to Consider
- Inter have won seven of last eight matches on all fronts
- The Nerazzurri didn’t concede a single goal in those seven triumphs
- Inter kept a clean sheet in eight of nine home games this season
- Lazio lost five of previous seven fixtures in Serie A
- The Biancocelesti lost each of last four away games in the league
Inter Milan are playing the best football in years and their back line have been impenetrable even against some of league’s in-form sides, so chances are they will be able to extend the amazing run against sorry Lazio. The Biancocelesti have been utterly disappointing of late and they look set for fifth straight loss on the road.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 4/5
Bookmaker: William Hill