Fiorentina’s pursuit of their first top-four finish in Serie A since 2014/15 faces a stern test as leaders Inter roll into town in a buoyant mood. Sunday’s encounter at Stadio Artemio Franchi has emerged as a glorious opportunity for Simone Inzaghi’s high-flyers to build a safe cushion at the table’s summit.
Back to Serie A action following a disastrous 3-0 defeat to Napoli in their Supercoppa Italiana semi-final tie last week, Fiorentina must rally their troops to avoid another chastening result. Vincenzo Italiano’s side sat fourth ahead of this round, but with only three points separating the five teams below them, there’s a little margin for error.
However, the signs are ominous for Fiorentina. In addition to a two-game winless league run (D1, L1), including a last-gasp 2-2 home draw against Udinese last time out, La Viola suffered a humiliating 4-0 loss to Inter in the reverse fixture. Unfortunately for them, their visitors are showing no signs of slowing down.
After a landslide 3-0 victory against Lazio in the Supercoppa Italiana semi-finals, Inter called upon talismanic forward Lautaro Martinez to propel them to a third successive Super Cup title. The Serie A leading goalscorer netted a stoppage-time winner to topple Napoli 1-0 in the title-defining showdown.
Inspired by another piece of silverware, Inter return to Serie A action primed to capitalize on Juventus’ unexpected 1-1 home draw against relegation-battling Empoli on Saturday. Anything other than three points would be a surprise, knowing Inzaghi’s lads have strung together four wins in the build-up to this trip.
Atalanta’s 2-0 home win against Udinese on Saturday demoted Fiorentina to fifth ahead of the kick-off, intensifying pressure on La Viola to arrest a three-game losing home league run against Inter. Given Nerazzurri’s formidable domestic form, that’s easier said than done, but there’s a silver lining.
Italiano’s charges have fared stupendously in Tuscany lately, posting seven wins across their last eight competitive home matches (D1), including four in Serie A. Moreover, before the abovementioned draw against Udinese, Fiorentina had kept three consecutive clean sheets on home turf.
That kind of defensive resilience could prove decisive, especially considering they’ve lost 66% of their Serie A games when conceding the opening goal this term (W1, D2, L6).
With Juventus surprisingly held winless by Empoli, Inter can reclaim their place at the top of the pile with a win at Franchi. With two points between the leading duo and Nerazzurri boasting two games in hand, these could be season-defining moments for Inzaghi’s troops.
Inter’s league form has been nothing short of outstanding, with 11 victories across their last 14 Serie A fixtures (D3) putting them in a pole position to deepen Fiorentina’s crisis. Adding to this sentiment, they head into proceedings as the only side in the Italian top flight yet to lose an away match in 2023/24 (W8, D2).
Much of the credit for that stellar run goes to Inzaghi’s rock-solid backline, as Inter have conceded only four goals on their ten Serie A travels this season. They did fail to keep a clean sheet in their last away league game, though it merely meant anything, given they humbled Monza 5-1.
Long-term absentees Gaetao Castrovilli and Dodo are still on the sidelines, while Christian Kouame has yet to return from the Africa Cup of Nations. Fiorentina will also be without their captain, Cristiano Biraghi, who has accumulated yellow cards.
On the other hand, this trip will come too soon for Juan Cuadrado. But Inter boss Inzaghi has more significant issues at his plate, with Nicolo Barella and Hakan Calhanoglu unavailable for selection due to suspension.
Fiorentina vs Inter Potential Lineups
Fiorentina (4-2-3-1): Pietro Terracciano; Michael Kayode, Nikola Milenkovic, Lucas Martinez Quarta, Fabiano Parisi; Alfred Duncan, Arthur; Nicolas Gonzalez, Giacomo Bonaventura, Riccardo Sottil; Lucas Beltran.
Inter (3-5-2): Yann Sommer; Benjamin Pavard, Stefan de Vrij, Francesco Acerbi; Matteo Darmian, Davide Frattesi, Kristjan Asllani, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Federico Dimarco; Marcus Thuram, Lautaro Martinez.
Fiorentina vs Inter Prediction
Fiorentina’s debacle against Napoli exposed all the vulnerabilities of Italiano’s underperforming side, showing Inter the way to take three points in Tuscany. With Martinez firing on all cylinders and Inzaghi’s team going from strength to strength on the road, we back the visitors to do just that.
Prediction: Inter Win
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