After bouncing back from their Coppa Italia semi final exit with a much-needed win over Sampdoria, Antonio Conte’s Inter face Sassuolo in midweek.
Sassuolo are – let’s not beat around the bush here – not a particularly good football team, as evidenced in their 4-1 mauling at the hands of Atalanta on Sunday evening.
Inter, on the hand, are a particularly good football team; especially since Conte took over the managerial role. I Nerazzurri currently sit nine points adrift of Juventus atop of the league, and will see the home meeting with Sassuolo as a perfect opportunity to cut that lead to just six.
Here is the team that Conte will task with doing just that:
Samir Handanovic (GK): One of the best goalkeepers in the world so yes, of course he’s going to start this game.
Milan Skriniar (CB): One of the best centre backs in the world so yes, of course he’s going to start this game.
Stefan de Vrij (CB): If you watch any amount of Serie A football, you’ll know that De Vrij has been the best centre back in Italy this season. The Dutch international has thrived in Conte’s patent back three.
Alessandro Bastoni (CB): We could say that Alessandro Bastoni’s inclusion in the starting XI is because Diego Godin isn’t match fit after a recent injury – but that wouldn’t be true, would it? The fact is, Bastoni has moved ahead of Godin in the pecking order at Inter this season, and at the age of 21, that is a serious achievement.
Antonio Candreva (RM): There are two Antonio Candrevas. One is quite possibly the worst crosser of a ball in the history of mankind – seriously, he has worse technique than Santiago Munez from ‘Goal!’. The other is a pretty competent right midfielder who can nab the odd goal. Which one will show up on Wednesday night…?
Nicolo Barella (CM): Arguably the signing of the summer in Italy, Nicolo Barella has been a revelation at the heart of the Inter midfield this season. Sign him on FM20 if you can’t get Sandro Tonali.
Christian Eriksen (CAM): For the last 18 months it’s been pretty easy to forget just how talented a footballer Eriksen is – and that’s largely due to the fact that, in his final year or so at Tottenham, he wasn’t really arsed to use that talent. But now at Inter, he is and looks set to be a hugely important figure at the club for the foreseeable future.
Roberto Gagliardini (CM): Just about competent…but not much else. Gagliardini will play because he’s one of two central midfielders that’s fit at the club. And, yes, that is literally the only reason.
Cristiano Biraghi (LM): Inter have talented players in every single position EXCEPT for left midfield. Biraghi will fill in on Wednesday night, but don’t expect him to be starting games for the club next season.
Lautaro Martinez (ST): Will he go to Barcelona this summer? God knows.
Martinez has been outstanding since this season – scoring 17 goals in all competitions taking over the mantle of ‘world class Argentine forward’ at the club from the incredibly unlikeable Mauro Icardi.
Romelu Lukaku (ST): The butt of many a joke in England for his first touch and weight, Lukaku has been anything but a punchline since arriving in Milan last summer. Marked Inter’s return to Serie A action with his 18th league goal of the season on Sunday.