Restricting Belotti is pivotal to Inter’s chances of beating Torino


If Luciano Spalletti and his Inter players want to be considered as genuine title contenders this season, they have no option but to clinch all three points against Walter Mazzarri’s well-drilled Torino side this weekend. That sounds like quite an ultimatum at this very early stage of the campaign, but is merely a consequence of the manner in which Juventus and Napoli came from behind to beat Chievo and Lazio on the opening matchday. Meanwhile, defeat to Sassuolo has already left Inter playing catch up behind their rivals.

Though the Nerazzurri will be expected to play on the front foot and enjoy the lion’s share of possession when the Granata come to town, they will also have to be mindful of the fact that their opponents are not short of excellent attacking options themselves. Deadline day signings Roberto Soriano and Simone Zaza will both be looking to get off to a good start for their new club, while Andrea Belotti is determined to make up for what was a relatively underwhelming year by his standards.

His prolific form during the 2016/17 season did of course bring him to the attention of Premier League giants Chelsea and Manchester United, as well as Serie A duo AC Milan and Napoli. Indeed, he followed up a hugely impressive 26 goals in 35 appearances with a bang average total of 10 goals in 32 appearances. Il Gallo will undoubtedly be keen to set the record straight and prove why he was regarded as one of European football’s deadliest strikers just 12 months ago.

It remains to be seen whether the 24-year-old will benefit long-term from Mazzarri’s tactic of deploying him alongside someone else in attack, especially given the fact he enjoyed the most prolific spell of his career as a lone frontman in Siniša Mihajlović’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. Assuming that the former Watford coach intends to play Belotti in tandem with Zaza, Toro should be able to rely on not one but two proven goal scorers with international experience.

Regardless of whether Mazzarri opts to give Zaza his first start since returning to Serie A, it is likely that La Beneamata’s defence will have to find a way to contend with two central attacking threats. Fortunately for Spalletti and his charges, reports suggest Milan Škriniar will be fit enough to start. There is no doubt that his presence was missed on Sunday evening at the Mapei Stadium. Radja Nainggolan’s return will also provide Inter with a massive boost, though he will probably have to settle for a place on the substitutes bench.

A 60,000-strong crowd will fully expect the Nerazzurri’s array of new signings to light San Siro up with an exciting performance, but it would be a huge error of judgement not to pay special attention to the aforementioned Belotti. Stopping him from getting into dangerous positions in and around the penalty area will be just as important to their chances of clinching their first victory of the 2018/19 campaign.

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