Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 4/9
Top-flight campaigns have ended in France, Germany and Spain. This week, the English Premier League will also come to a close, and the Italian Serie A will remain the last among the top five leagues in Europe to conclude the much-disturbed 2019/20 season. Only 34 of the 38 rounds have been played out so far, and in the 35th, Inter Milan will welcome Fiorentina to the San Siro on Wednesday evening.
Having invested heavily in their team last summer, the Nerazzurri managed to stay well within a shot at the title through most of the campaign, but Juventus seem to have finally succeeded in pulling away from all pursuit. Nothing is mathematically certain yet and Inter remain in second place with 72 points, but the defending champions have now secured a nine-point gap with four games to play, and if Inter fail to beat Fiorentina and Juventus win away to Udinese on Thursday, it will all be over.
Even the second place isn’t secure for Antonio Conte’s team with Atalanta and Lazio right behind with 71 and 69 points, respectively, but the place in the top four is wrapped up, and if they can’t win the title, that’s all they’ll care about.
Inter’s recent form is not a bad one, but it’s hardly title-winning stuff either. From their last six outings, they won three, drew two and lost one.
Conte has the full squad at his disposal for this clash. It will be interesting to see if he decides to go with Romelu Lukaku ahead of Lautaro Martinez in attack this time, given that the Belgian came on off the bench to replace the Argentinian and scored a late penalty to snatch a point for his team away to AS Roma on Sunday.
Sitting firmly halfway between the European places and the relegation zone, in 12th place with 42 points, Fiorentina are completely safe on one hand and without any chance of finishing high enough to reach the Europa League. It’s 13 points between Lecce in 18th and them, and another 14 to Napoli in sixth – both gaps are obviously mathematically impossible to close in four games. What it practically means is that the Viola have practically nothing but pride and desire to show a professional attitude to play for.
However, it wasn’t that long ago that Fiorentina looked to be in considerable danger. It took a streak of five league matches without a single defeat, capped off with a 2-0 triumph over Torino on Sunday, to completely secure survival. Perhaps the prospect of maintaining that unbeaten run could also serve as motivation when they take to the pitch at San Siro, but be that as it may, their last-six run reads the same as Inter’s: three wins and two draws that constitute that run, and a single defeat before that.
Coach Giuseppe Iachini won’t be able to call upon 25-year-old midfielder Marco Benassi due to a calf problem, but that should be the only player absent from his team for this match.
Like Lukaku, forward Patrick Cutrone came on as a substitute and scored on Sunday, and Iachini could choose to give him a start alongside former Bayern Munich star Franck Ribery. In that case, Christian Kouame would be the one to drop to the bench.
Though their chances of maintaining a title challenge for much longer look extremely slim, Inter will not want to see them end before they have to. Looking at the big picture, everything points to Conte’s men winning this contest – quality, table positions, home ground advantage, motivation.
Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 4/9
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