Saturday’s Serie A action closes out at the Stadio Artemio Franchi as Fiorentina and Inter go head-to-head in a handsomely-looking fixture. Not so for the home side’s manager Vincenzo Italiano, whose future in Florence is hanging by a thread following his team’s sub-par league start.
Fiorentina may have put a half foot into the Europa Conference League knockout stages, but their Serie A form has been an utter waste. Christian Kouame’s second-half equaliser rescued a 1-1 draw for La Viola away to newly-promoted Lecce on Monday. Yet it wasn’t what Italiano had in mind ahead of his side’s visit to hot relegation candidates.
Despite arresting an underwhelming run of back-to-back Serie A defeats without scoring, the 44-year-old manager faces an uncertain future in Florence. Fiorentina’s woeful return of two wins from the opening ten league rounds (D4, L4) keeps them closer to the relegation zone than the top six, explaining Italiano’s precarious position.
Unfortunately for him, Inter won’t be out to make friends by dolling out favours as the visitors seek their way back into top-four contention. Simone Inzaghi’s men have enjoyed an eye-catching upturn in form in the run-up to this road trip. After losing consecutive Serie A games, the Nerazzurri have won two league outings in succession to maintain a four-point deficit on fourth-placed Roma.
Lautaro Martinez scored on either side of halftime to hand Inter a comfortable 2-0 home victory over Salernitana last weekend. The Argentine’s match-winning performance came a week after Edin Dzeko’s double fire Inzaghi’s resurgent squad to a keenly-contested 2-1 win at Sassuolo on their most recent Serie A travel.
Before Lazio ran riot to humble Fiorentina 4-0 in the last Serie A fixture held at the Franchi, La Viola had gone unbeaten in their opening four home league matches (W2, D2). Italiano’s men must rediscover the form that helped them turn the Franchi into a fortress early in the season if they’re to stand a chance against Inter.
Indeed, Fiorentina have won none of their last ten top-flight encounters against the Nerazzurri (D5, L5) since a ‘goal-friendly’ 5-4 home triumph in April 2017. Topically, they have lost both previous home league meetings with Inter via a two-goal margin, suggesting goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano could be in for a long evening.
Scoring remains the elephant in the room, though. Luka Jovic’s arrival from Real Madrid on a season-long loan has failed to reinvigorate the hosts’ attacking line-up in the wake of Dusan Vlahovic’s move to Juventus. Fiorentina have netted a measly eight goals in the opening ten Serie A contests, marking their worst scoring start to a new top-flight season since 1986/87.
The abovementioned triumph at Sassuolo helped Inter snap a dreadful three-game losing away streak in Serie A. But the visitors’ defensive woes require an immediate improvement, with the Nerazzurri yet to keep a clean sheet across five road trips in Serie A this season (W2, L3). Frankly, that’s nothing to be confused about.
Spanning back to the tail-end of last season, each of Inter’s nine away league matches preceding this travel have seen at least three goals and both teams scoring. You’d have to go back to their 1-0 victory at Juventus in early April for their last Serie A shoutout outside the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. So their free-scoring form may have to undo the damage again.
Hakan Calhanoglu has not been a regular source of goals for Inter. However, the former Milan playmaker has tallied four Serie A goals against Fiorentina, including three at the Franchi. That makes La Viola the Turks’ favourite opposition in the Italian top flight.
Fiorentina vs Inter Potential Line-ups
Fiorentina (4-2-3-1): Pietro Terracciano; Dodo, Nikola Milenkovic, Igor, Cristiano Biraghi; Sofyan Amrabat, Giacomo Bonaventura; Nico Gonzalez, Antonin Barak, Christian Kouame; Arthur Cabral.
Inter Milan (3-5-2): Andre Onana; Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij, Alessandro Bastoni; Denzel Dumfries, Nicolo Barella, Hakan Calhanoglu, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Federico Dimarco; Lautaro Martinez, Edin Dzeko.