MX23RW : Wednesday, May 22 19:33:24| >> :600:118328571:118328571:
Aug 23, 2015 at 7.45pm UK at ​San Siro
Inter Milan
AtalantaAtalanta BC
Jovetic (93')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Carmona (71')

Preview: Inter Milan vs. Atalanta BC

Sports Mole takes a closer look at both sides ahead of Sunday's Serie A clash between Inter Milan and Atalanta BC.

Inter Milan will look to prove that a busy summer has put them on course for a return to the Serie A elite when they host Atalanta BC at San Siro on Sunday.

Roberto Mancini's men start the opening day of the new campaign as favourites to pick up all three points, while Atalanta will be hopeful of a morale-boosting performance after narrowly avoiding relegation last season.

Inter Milan

Inter Milan's coach Roberto Mancini gestures during the Serie A football match between AC Milan and Inter at San Siro Stadium in Milan on November 23, 2014© Getty Images

After returning to San Siro for a second spell with Inter last November, many questioned whether Mancini could turn the side into genuine title contenders once again, but a productive summer transfer window has raised hopes of a return to the Champions League at the very least.

Mancini did enough to lead Inter to eighth spot last season, but with the club's demanding supporters growing tired of watching other teams emerge as closest challengers to Juventus, the former Manchester City boss will be fully aware that the pressure will quickly grow unless his side make a strong start.

Selling fringe players was arguably more important than recruiting this summer as Inter freshened up their squad by bidding farewell to the likes of Joel Obi, Zdravko Kuzmanovic and Xherdan Shaqiri, while Mateo Kovacic joined Real Madrid for a fee reported to be close to £25m earlier this week.

The departure of Kovacic certainly came as a disappointment to the majority of Inter supporters, but with Mancini claiming that the club's financial need was behind the sale, the Nerazzurri did manage to make a healthy profit on the Croatian midfielder.

Inter had already strengthened the midfield earlier in the summer by winning the battle to sign Geoffrey Kondogbia from Monaco, while Miranda joined from Atletico Madrid to add valuable experience to the defence before Stevan Jovetic was snapped up on a season-long loan.

The talent in the squad is certainly unquestionable, but the true challenge for Mancini will be to build one of the resilient and defensively smart sides he was famous for in his first spell in charge.

Finishing pre-season with four wins from their final five matches suggests that there is still work to do behind the scenes, and Mancini will be keen to prove that the current group have what it takes to challenge for a spot in the top three this season.

Pre-season form: WLLLLD


Atalanta's defender Giuseppe Biava celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the Italian Serie A football match between Atalanta and Lazio at the Atleti Azzurri Stadium in Bergamo on May 3, 2015© Getty Images

Never too far away from drama, Atalanta looked destined for a return to Serie B at one stage last season but they escaped relegation by three points to ensure that they remained in the top tier of Italian football for a fifth successive year.

Improving on a disappointing finish will be the only aim for Edy Reja, who replaced Stefano Colantuono in March, but a repeat of the success the club enjoyed back two seasons ago, when they finished 11th, already appears to be a stretch too far for the current squad.

It has been a difficult summer for the club's supporters, who were forced to watch Daniele Baselli and Davide Zappacosta leave before Yohan Benalouane was sold to Leicester City earlier this month.

The loss of three key players who played a major role in keeping the club in Serie A came as a huge blow, but the permanent signing of Mauricio Pinilla, whose goals late in the season were crucial, has handed the squad a boost ahead of the opener.

Reja's side made it through a packed nine-game pre-season schedule without a defeat as many of the club's youth players were handed opportunities, and last week's 3-0 win over Cittadella in the Coppa Italia ensures that confidence is high as they prepare for one of the toughest tests of the season.

Pre-season form: WWDWDD

Team News

Mauro Icardi of Internazionale celebrates after scoring his team's opening goal from the penalty spot during the Serie A match between Udinese Calcio and FC Internazionale Milano at Stadio Friuli on April 28, 2015© Getty Images

Inter are likely to be without Nemanja Vidic for the first half of the season after he was forced to undergo back surgery earlier this month, and new signings Jeison Murillo and Miranda could partner each other in central defence as captain Andrea Ranocchia continues to be linked with a move away from the club.

Jovetic is in line to make his competitive debut alongside Mauro Icardi in attack, while Kondogbia and Hernanes should both be handed starting roles in midfield.

After deciding against starting a number of key players last week, Reja is set to make changes to the side as Pinilla and Maximiliano Moralez, who both came off the bench to score against Cittadella, prepare to return.

Inter Milan possible starting lineup:
Handanovic, Jesus, Miranda, Murillo, D'Ambrosio, Kondogbia, Medel, Guarin, Hernanes, Jovetic, Icardi

Atalanta possible starting lineup:
Sportiello, Brivio, Masiello, Cherubin, Raimondi, Moralez, Carmona, D'Alessandro, De Roon, Kurtic, Pinilla

Head To Head

Inter were comfortable in the two meetings between the sides last season as they followed a 2-0 home win in September with a 4-1 triumph in the reverse fixture.

It ended a run of six matches unbeaten for Atalanta, who have won on two of their previous three visits to San Siro.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Inter 2-0 Atalanta

Atalanta will be hopeful of avoiding the drama of last season, but a lack of investment in the squad could put them on course for another difficult nine months. It will be a tough start for Reja's side, and Inter will be desperate to start the new campaign with a convincing display. Mancini's side should be able to please San Siro crowd with all three points.

Who will win Sunday's Serie A clash between Inter Milan and Atalanta BC?

Inter Milan
Atalanta BC
Inter Milan
Atalanta BC
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