Inter must rise to the challenge of facing Juventus

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“We tried to win from the first minute, we had a couple of chances at 0-0. We pushed more in the second half and got the equaliser. A point is an alright result today looking at the other results, we need to keep it up. We create a lot in every match but we have to improve our finishing to finish with as many points as possible. It’s nice to score, especially at home but a goal is always a goal. We know Juventus, they’ve won a lot of titles and they’ll come here to win so we need to prepare well in the week and have the strength to win. We are Inter and we must always play to win because we are strong. First, we’ll think about Juventus and then about finishing the season in third.” Continue reading

Failure to beat Roma a missed opportunity for Inter

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“In terms of the result, nothing has changed. There is one less game to play but, at home, we should always try to win.” Those were the words of Luciano Spalletti during his post-match press conference in the aftermath of Inter’s 1-1 draw against Roma last night. The Giallorossi went ahead within the opening 15 minutes, before Ivan Perišić equalised midway through the second half. Indeed, the Nerazzurri were by far the superior side after the half-time interval and should ultimately have managed to clinch all three points. Continue reading

Borja Valero insists Inter dressing room has always been united

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Borja Valero spoke to the media in the immediate aftermath of last night’s 1-1 draw between Inter and Roma at San Siro. Here is what the veteran Nerazzurri midfielder said during an interview with Sky Sport: Continue reading

Spalletti satisfied by Inter’s second half performance against Roma

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Luciano Spalletti spoke to the media in the aftermath of last night’s 1-1 draw between Inter and Roma at San Siro. The Tuscan tactician was irritated by his side’s lack of control throughout the first half, but was encouraged by what he saw after the interval. He was also full of praise for veteran midfielder Borja Valero, who was excellent throughout the entire 90 minutes. Here is what he said during an interview with Sky Sport: Continue reading

Torino Hang Around and Enter Top Four Race

With much of the attention surrounding the top four race going to Milan, Roma, and Lazio, Walter Mazzarri’s plucky Torino side have flown under the radar, but are still in it with a chance. With just five games to go, I Granata are in seventh place, however, sit just three points back of fourth place Milan. Playing in Mazzarri’s patented 3-5-2 with veteran leadership spread evenly across the pitch, Torino have proven to be one of the harder sides to break down within the peninsula, and hurt the opposition on the break through Andrea Belotti, and Iago Falque.

Torino are undefeated in their last five clashes, and are currently in good form ahead of a crucial stage. Next week, Torino’s top four credentials will be put to the ultimate test when they take on Milan in a direct clash for European football. A win against the struggling rossoneri would put them on equal points awaiting other clashes, and would signal their Champions League intent to the rest of the pack.

While Champions League football is unlikely given that there are five teams vying for one spot, all sides in the top four race have displayed a propensity to shoot themselves in the foot at crucial points. Just this past weekend, Roma, Milan, and Lazio all dropped points in games they should have won. As a result, the likes of Atalanta and Torino have been able to stick around the top four, and have a legitimate chance going into the final match-days.

After taking on Milan, Torino will travel down the street to take on their fierce rivals Juventus at the Allianz Stadium. While the bianconeri have regularly bested Torino over the years, they have already clinched the Scudetto, and will already be thinking of their summer vacation. After his side’s triumph over Fiorentina, Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri admitted himself today that he will try new schemes in the remaining five games. With Juve experimenting, they will likely field a wealth of their youngsters and try to blood them through. This gives Torino a unique opportunity to use their experience, and claim,what would be, a crucial three points to their top four aspirations.

Following their clash with Juve, Torino then close the season against Sassuolo, Empoli, and Lazio. While the first two opponents should be straightforward, it’s their last clash that will determine their fate.

Right now, Torino are spreading responsibility in the final third wonderfully, and don’t simply rely on one player to see them through. In fact, there are seven players on their roster this season with at least three goals or more. This includes defenders, defensive midfielders, wingers and of course, their highly rated talisman Andrea Belotti. Factor in Salvatore Sirigu’s exploits, and it’s clear to see why Torino have been hard to beat this season.

With their side firing on all cylinders, Torino could just be this season’s surprise package in Serie A and snatch Champions League football under from everyone’s noses. Until now, they haven’t received many plaudits for their efforts, but expect that to change if they were to overcome Milan.

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Dzeko at a crossroads, should Roma try to repeat Nainggolan deal?

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The saying Rome wasn’t built on a day also applies to one of the local football teams. Last summer the giallorossi started an aggressive rebuild project despite making the Champions League, the club’s ownership thought they had the right man to oversee the creation of a young team in Monchi who cashed in on Alisson while also moving Strootman and Nainggolan since they were on the down side of their careers.

While Roma were able to qualify out of their group in the Champions League, they suffered an embarrassing loss in the Coppa Italia against Fiorentina and find themselves in serious jeopardy of not getting back to the Champions League which would be disastrous to the club’s already fragile balance sheet. 

Regardless of where they finish in the Serie A standings, we can expect Roma to continue their rebuild as they look to shed some significant wages- the only difference is they’ll have someone other than Monchi overseeing the project. The new sporting director is likely to however try to repeat the Nainggolan deal with Inter, which turned out to be arguably be the most move Monchi made at the club.

With just one year left on his contract Edin Dzeko is at a cross roads, especially since he’s the giallorossi’s highest paid player at a time where every expense is taken into account. The Bosnian striker hasn’t been as effective as demonstrated by the fact he hadn’t scored at the Olimpico in close to a year, but he’s also a player that can make the difference in big moments and whose value can’t be measured in goals alone. 

Roma will have to make a decision on what to do with Dzeko before he can leave on a Bosman deal- they simply cannot afford to lose a prized asset even if he’s 33. The decision would be easier to make if his heir apparent Patrik Schick hadn’t been such a bust, but while they don’t have a ready replacement on the squad they are likely to move on.

Dzeko has some leverage thanks to an offer from West Ham as well as interest from Germany and Turkey, but probably not enough to convince Roma’s he’s worth his current wages of close to 5 million euro net of taxes on a deal that will take him to his mid 30s. Dzeko however does have an ace up his sleeve since his preference is to stay in Italy- Inter are looking at him as the ideal mentor for their promising attacker Lautaro Martinez- another striker whose value cannot be measured on goals alone.

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Regardless of who is managing Inter next season, there will almost certainly be someone on their bench who values Dzeko’s skills between his former coach at Roma Luciano Spalletti and his rumored replacement Antonio Conte, who loves strikers who can create space for scoring opportunities from the midfield.

In addition to a manager who values Dzeko, an ownership group with deep pockets who can meet his financial demand, Inter has also a player to offer Roma, who value Dzeko at 20 million euro, to fill a very clear need. Replacing Alisson with Olsen has turned out to be the equivalent of going from Ferguson to Moyes at Manchester United and Roma now find themselves once again on the market for a keeper.

Inter are set at the position with Handanovic for at least the next two seasons so they could offer Andrei Radu who is having an excellent season on loan at Genoa. Radu would be cheap wages wise and would have a lot of upside since he’s 21 in addition to already having at least one season as a starter in Serie A. 

 

While it would be unfair to expect a Zaniolo like impact from Radu, he would certainly be a massive upgrade over Olsen and could learn from Roma’s other keeper Mirante. Roma would also receive cash as part of this deal that could be used to either improve the defense or to partly found the acquisition of a striker, there would of course also be the huge savings on Dzeko’s wages.

Roma are currently going through the process of finding Monchi’s replacement, while the identity of the person is still a mystery, we do know they’ll have to make some important decisions from jump street- trying to repeat the success of the Nainggolan-Zaniolo deal would be a great place to start.

 

 

Spalletti expecting a big performance from Inter vs. Roma

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Luciano Spalletti held his traditional pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow night’s crucial Serie A match against Roma. Here is what he said to the journalists who gathered at the Suning Training Centre earlier this afternoon: Continue reading

Škriniar insists Inter deserve to be considered among the best

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During an interview with Sky Sport, Inter central defender Milan Škriniar spoke about a variety of issues including this weekend’s crucial Serie A match against Roma and his blossoming partnership with Stefan de Vrij at the heart of the Nerazzurri defence. Here is what he had to say: Continue reading

Gagliardini urges Inter to remain focused against Roma

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During an interview with Inter TV, Roberto Gagliardini looked ahead to Saturday’s crucial Serie A match against Roma as the Nerazzurri look to secure a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League group stage. Here is what he had to say: Continue reading

Lazio Face Top Four Setback Following Milan Defeat

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After narrowly succumbing to Milan by a score of 1-0 on the weekend, Lazio find themselves languishing in eighth place, six points back of fourth place; albeit with a game in hand. The good news is that they’re still very much in the race for top four. Unfortunately for them, however, so are the other five teams alongside them.

Lazio went into the game in relatively poor form dropping points against SPAL and Sassuolo prior, yet only found themselves three points adrift Milan. Against the rossoneri, Inzaghi’s men started relatively well and were unlucky not to find the back of the net first, with Ciro Immobile hitting the post. As fate would have it, Milan were awarded a penalty with just over ten minutes to play, and Ivorian midfielder Franck Kessie converted it with aplomb.

With just over seven games left, and with only six points separating fourth place from eighth, the race for Champions League football has never been closer. As a result, the biancocelesti are going to have to win out their remaining games, if they want a chance. In their next clash, they’ll be taking on a relegation threatened Udinese, a clash that will be harder than the table suggests.

Following the game with Udinese, Inzaghi’s men then have Sampdoria, Atalanta, and Cagliari on the agenda. While Lazio will be the favourites with the odds-makers for these clashes, it is typically in these types of games that Inzaghi’s men struggle. Moreover, Sampdoria and Atalanta have proven they can go toe-to-toe with just about any side in Italy, and will prove to be an equal match for Lazio. After all, there’s a reason these sides are still alive in the race for European football this late in the season.

In the past, Serie A’s provinciali have been Lazio’s bogey sides, and were a major reason behind their failed qualification to last season’s Champions League. If they win their game in hand, Lazio join Roma, and Atalanta in the pack behind Milan, and are in it with a chance. If they don’t, they might as well forget top four altogether.

With Roma experiencing a resurgence of sorts under Claudio Ranieri’s guidance, it will be important for Lazio to exhibit consistency in order to pip their fierce rivals to Champions League football. Roma, however, still have to take on Inter, and Juventus and will be travelling to the Stadio Luigi Ferrari to take on Genoa, which is never easy. Then, of course, there’s Milan.

While the rossoneri had shown signs of slowing down in recent weeks, dropping points against Inter, Sampdoria, Udinese and Juventus in their last four, their win against Lazio will undoubtedly spur them on. With clashes coming up against Parma, Torino and Bologna, there’s no reason why Milan shouldn’t pick up, at the very least, seven points out of their next nine, and continue their march for top four football. Their fate is very much in their own hands.

Lazio’s focus should be on overtaking Milan and Roma, however, they shouldn’t forget about Atalanta either. Even if they win their game in hand, gli Orobici will still have one point more than Lazio. As a result, they must beat them in their head-to-head game on May 5, and win out. Luckily for Lazio, Atalanta have one of the most difficult run-ins taking on Napoli, and Juventus.

While Lazio’s game in hand still gives them hope for top four football, they will have to be at their very best over the next couple of weeks, otherwise they can forget about top four football. Factor in their semi-final clash in the Coppa Italia against Milan, and their schedule is complicated further. In any case, Inzaghi’s men will be hungry to return Champions League football to the nation’s capital; something that hasn’t been done in over a decade at Lazio.

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