Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Inter switch focus back to title push as Empoli visit runaway leaders

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 1 Apr 2024

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Runaway Serie A leaders Inter will be looking to steer attention back to their title tilt when they take on relegation strugglers Empoli.

Inter welcome Davide Nicola’s side to San Siro on Monday evening with an 11-point lead over city rivals AC Milan, who made it four wins in four with victory at Fiorentina on Saturday.

The international break saw Inter in the news for other reasons, with defender Francesco Acerbi investigated and ultimately cleared of racially abusing Napoli’s Juan Jesus in their previous match on March 17.

Acerbi withdrew from the Italy squad after assuring manager Luciano Spalletti of his innocence and the claims were judged to be unproven due to a lack of supporting evidence. Inter’s financial arrangements have also been a source of speculation with a debt repayment deadline to American investment firm Oaktree Capital reportedly due in May.

How majority owners Suning intend to manage the matter is causing plenty of debate off the field, with a number of routes still possible as the clock ticks down behind the scenes.

Against that backdrop Inter coach Simone Inzaghi has, not for the first time this season, opted to stay away from media interrogation with no pre-match press conference taking place.

Reports from Italy suggest Inzaghi has closed ranks ahead of Empoli’s visit, allowing his squad to celebrate Easter with their families on Sunday morning before reporting for training and an overnight stay at the training centre ahead of their first game together in a fortnight.

Empoli have struggled to make any headway when visiting the leading sides this term, losing eight of their nine matches against the top six.

Inter, meanwhile, will be looking to begin another winning streak in Serie A after seeing a 10-game run end last time out with their 1-1 draw against Napoli.

Inter goalkeeper Yann Sommer picked up an ankle knock on international duty with Switzerland but has since taken part in training, leaving Inzaghi to make a call between the experienced shot-stopper and understudy Emil Audero.

Juan Cuadrado and Marko Arnautovic are also working back to fitness but may be risked this time.

Visiting boss Nicola is mulling over whether to deploy a three or four-man defence and could favour Jacopo Fazzini over Viktor Kovalenko in midfield.

Empoli have lost each of their last three matches 1-0 and will be looking to January arrival M’Baye Niang to end his own three-game scoreless streak.

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