By 90Min
December 29, 2017

Inter and Lazio meet at San Siro on Saturday in a crucial tie at the top of the Serie A table. 

After an undefeated start to their 2017/18, Inter now find themselves third, five points behind league leaders Napoli. Defensively the Nerazzurri have looked convincing, it is at the other end of the pitch that Luciano Spalletti's side have struggled recently. Inter have failed to score in four of their last five matches in all competitions. 

Simone Inzaghi's' Lazio side are currently fifth in the league table - four points behind their hosts - and are in good form, having lost just one of their last five Serie A games. Scoring goals is not a problem for Le Aquilekeeping them out is their Achilles' heel.


Classic Encounter


Inter 4-1 Lazio, May 2014

Claudio Villa/GettyImages

Javier Zanetti bid an emotional farewell to an adoring San Siro crowd, as Inter marked the Argentinian's impending retirement with a 4-1 comeback victory against Lazio.

Two minutes in, Lorik Cana found himself all alone at the far post following a corner and, after his header was spilled into the six-yard box, Biava tucked the ball home. Hush descended upon San Siro - but not for long - as Palacio soon struck the first blow of a swift Inter comeback.

Keita Balde Diao came close to restoring Lazio's lead in the 24th minute when letting rip from the edge of the Inter box. Samir Handanovic made the save before denying Ogenyi Onazi on the rebound.

Inter went 2-1 up 10 minutes before the break, when 20-year-old Mateo Kovacic produced the perfect through ball for Mauro Icardi, who could not fail to score from when one-on-one with Berisha.


Three minutes later, Palacio capitalised on a critical lapse in concentration from Berisha to tap Yuto Nagatomo's low cross from the left into the back of the net.

Valerio Pennicino/GettyImages

In the 73rd minute, Handanovic somehow managed to deny Felipe Anderson with his feet and, three minutes later, he pulled off an energetic double save to deny the Brazilian and then Antonio Candreva.

Just as it seemed Lazio would get back into the game however, they were wounded by a former employee. Yet another break orchestrated by the enchanting Kovacic saw the ball arrive at Hernanes' feet and the one-time Lazio star gratefully rifled the ball past Berisha with trademark accuracy.


Key Battles

Lazio's defenders can expect a testing afternoon at San Siro on Saturday. Stefan de Vrij will need to marshal the troops and will have the responsibility of marking Inter's captain - and top goalscorer - striker Icardi. 

The Dutch international will need to be alert from the first whistle in order to effectively monitor the Argentine's clever runs and movement by restricting the space he creates for others and reducing Inter's goal scoring opportunities. 

Conceding goals is Lazio's main issue therefore young Albanian goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha will need a confident display to keep the home side quiet. Since making the number one jersey his own, he has performed to a consistent level, but will need to be decisive in his decision making and commanding of his area for the Romans to take anything away from San Siro on Saturday night. 

Lazio's Ciro Immobile is bound to test the resolute Inter defence as, after scoring 16 league goals so far this season, the Italian international will be brimming with confidence. Inter's Slovenian goalkeeper Samir Handanovic will need to make sure his defence is well organised, disciplined and restricts the striking opportunities of Lazio's potent attacking threats.


Also keep an eye out for the battle on the touchline between two head coaches. Their contrasting styles of management and football ethos are now firmly embedded in their teams and will make intriguing viewing for all supporters. 


Team News 


Defensively, Spalletti will be reluctant to change his Inter's defensive approach, which has remained solid, but it is likely Danilo D'Ambrosio will start at left back ahead of Japanese defender Nagatomo after the midweek derby defeat in the Coppa Italia.

Tullio M. Puglia/GettyImages

However it is in attack that is the area of concern, as they have struggled to score consistently over recent weeks. Expect Croatian Marcelo Brozovic to return in his offensive role behind Mauro Icardi in the coach's favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.

Inter Milan (4-2-3-1): Handanovic, Cancelo, Skriniar, Miranda, D'Ambrosio, Gagliardini, Valero, Candreva, Brozovic, Perisic and Icardi


Lazio (3-4-2-1): Strakosha, Patric, De Vrij, Wallace Santos, Marusic, Parolo, Murgia, Lukaku, Luis Alberto, Milinkovic-Savic and Immobile


Prediction


An Inter win is on the cards with the home side overcoming their recent goal scoring drought. Lazio's defensive frailties will provide Inter and their significant attacking threat the opportunities for them to convert.

Emilio Andreoli/GettyImages

These gifts are likely to be exploited and Inter will eventually prove to have too much for their opponents. A hard fought home win is likely for Inter.

Inter 2-1 Lazio

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