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Preview: Spezia vs. Inter Milan - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Serie A clash between Spezia and Inter Milan, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Though their 11-match winning streak came to an end on Sunday, Serie A leaders Inter Milan remain well clear of the pack as they visit Spezia on Wednesday.

With Sunday's absorbing 1-1 draw against Napoli being preceded by news of their involvement in the posited European Super League, Scudetto-chasing Inter will take to the field under a cloud of uncertainty.


Match preview

Christian Eriksen warms up for Inter on December 9, 2020© Reuters

Following the closing chapter of the weekend's action - in which they took a hard-earned point home from Naples on Sunday evening - Inter's lead at the top of the Serie A standings has been cut to nine over second-placed Milan.

Christian Eriksen's clinical strike cancelled out a calamitous own-goal to claim a share of the spoils against Napoli, while their city rivals scraped to victory over Genoa.

The Nerazzurri, though, have to win only a maximum four of their last seven games to claim their 19th Scudetto next month - with hit-and-miss Spezia perhaps providing the perfect opponents against whom to get back on a winning roll.

With their quest to end the reign of bitter rivals Juventus now surely set to reach fruition, only an unlikely meltdown or any sanctions resulting from their part in the controversial European Super League - a venture labelled "greedy and callous" by Inter legend Luis Figo - can stop them now.

On Wednesday, Antonio Conte's well-drilled side can travel to Liguria on an unbeaten run stretching back to January's 2-1 defeat at Sampdoria, as - ironically - a lack of European football has helped them to sweep aside all-comers domestically in 2021.

As well as boasting the best defensive record in the league alongside Juve (with only 28 goals conceded so far) Conte's men have travelled particularly well. Only tasting defeat once while on the road - in that unexpected loss at Marassi - Inter will be strong favourites to repeat their December success over Spezia this time out.

Spezia manager Vincenzo Italiano pictured in January 2021© Reuters

Wildly inconsistent but rarely boring, ahead of the leaders' first top-flight visit to Stadio Alberto Picco, 14th-placed Spezia have not repeated their previous result in any of their last ten matches.

The mixed bag continued on Sunday, as the Bianconeri slumped to a 4-1 reverse at fellow mid-table outfit Bologna, having gone two goals down within the first twenty minutes.

Though an impressive run of home form since the turn of the year has helped coach Vincenzo Italiano and company climb away from danger - and tantalisingly close to survival in their first ever Serie A campaign - they remain in need of results to secure their status, as they now sit seven points above the drop zone.

At their Ligurian headquarters, Spezia have gone unbeaten in five games, with three successes and two draws on home turf helping the Bianconeri keep their heads above water. However, their ever-worsening defensive record - conceding 59 goals represents the fourth-worst tally in the league - will be a major concern for Italiano, as he prepares to face Inter's fearsome attack.

While top scorer M'Bala Nzola remains in search of form following his return from injury last month - having found the net nine times in his first 13 top-flight appearances, the Angolan international has failed to score in his last eight - on-loan forward Daniele Verde has hit the net in two of his past three outings, while young Roberto Piccoli has three in his last six, so the hosts will carry a threat of their own.

Spezia Serie A form:
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L

Inter Milan Serie A form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D



Team News

Inter Milan manager Antonio Conte pictured on February 14, 2021© Reuters

Inter travel without many injury concerns, as only veteran defender Aleksandar Kolarov is definitely ruled out with a muscular problem.

After undergoing meniscus surgery, Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal was absent from the squad for the last two games, despite making the bench previously, and may not be ready to feature on Wednesday.

Converted wing-back Ivan Perisic came on for Matteo Darmian during the draw with Napoli and may now be handed a start in place of the former Manchester United man, while fellow substitute Alexis Sanchez is in contention to partner top scorer Romelu Lukaku in attack, as Lautaro Martinez could be rested.

Antonio Conte does not favour rotation, even with a tight turnaround between games, so should otherwise keep an unchanged side as he seeks to increase Inter's stranglehold on the Scudetto.

Spezia goalkeeper Ivan Provedel is expected to start ahead of deputy Jeroen Zoet despite conceding six goals in two games since recovering from COVID-19, as Vincenzo Italiano prepares with most of his squad available.

Though Federico Mattiello and loan signing Riccardo Saponara - with an ankle problem - are again set to sit out, Italiano has a number of tough selections to make.

The hosts' attacking trident could comprise M'Bala Nzola in the centre, with Emmanuel Gyasi and Diego Farias on the flanks, but talented Atalanta loanee Roberto Piccoli is pressing his claims for a start in place of the misfiring Nzola, while Daniele Verde will want to keep his jersey ahead of Farias.

Spezia possible starting lineup:
Provedel; Ferrer, Ismajli, Chabot, Marchizza; Estevez, Ricci, Maggiore; Gyasi, Nzola, Farias

Inter Milan possible starting lineup:
Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Barella, Brozovic, Eriksen, Perisic; Sanchez, Lukaku


SM words green background

We say: Spezia 1-3 Inter Milan

Inter's previous potency has dimmed of late, with Antonio Conte reverting to type and allowing his charges to concede possession and strike on the break, as they seek to defend their lead in the league.

Nonetheless, a flaky Spezia defence cannot hope to contain the prowess of the champions-in-waiting for 90 minutes, so will fall to a second straight defeat despite creating chances to claim a second Milanese scalp at the Picco.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Away Win:data


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How you voted: Spezia vs Inter Milan

Spezia
5.0%
Draw
6.7%
Inter Milan
88.3%
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Todays Game Header Right
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CInter Milan37277384345088
2Atalanta BCAtalanta37239590454578
3AC Milan37237772413176
4Napoli37244985404576
5Juventus37229673373675
6Lazio36214116153867
7Roma371871266561061
8SassuoloSassuolo371611106256659
9Sampdoria37147164954-549
10Hellas VeronaHellas Verona361110154345-243
11Bologna361010164859-1140
12Udinese371010174153-1240
13Fiorentina37912164759-1239
14Genoa37912164658-1239
15SpeziaSpezia37911175070-2038
16CagliariCagliari37910184358-1537
17Torino36714154968-1935
18BeneventoBenevento37711193974-3532
RCrotone3764274592-4722
RParma37311233980-4120

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