Serie A: Inter Milan v Roma – Battle for Champions League spots intensifies

It will be a blockbuster Sunday in Serie A when Champions League-chasing Inter welcome Scudetto-chasing AS Roma. 

The Giallorossi are sitting 2nd in the table with 56 points while their hosts on the night are eight points behind them on 4th. With nothing to separate the two teams in terms of recent form, here are the four things to look out for:

 

WHICH TEAM WILL HAVE ITS RESISTANCE BROKEN AT THE END OF 90 MINUTES

Both sides are enduring a purple patch coming into this game. While Inter have won 10 of their last 11 league matches, Roma have been victorious in 7 of their last 8 league outings. Since taking over the reigns of the Nerazzurri post the last international break in November, Inter have gone from strength to strength under Stefano Pioli. Only Napoli and Juventus have earned more points (both with 33) than Inter since.

 

 

Roma have been thriving under the stewardship of Luciano Spalletti and remains the prime rivals to Juventus in the race for Scudetto. It's hard to decide which team will emerge triumphant at San Siro on Sunday looking at their recent. With neither side showing any decline in form and equally potent at both ends of the pitch, expect it to be a cagey affair unless either team scores.

 

ICARDI vs DZEKO

Two of the most prolific strikers in the league will come face-to-face at San Siro. Inter skipper Mauro Icardi will return to the fold much to the delight of Stefano Pioli after serving a two-match ban. The Argentine has contributed to nearly 60% of the 40 league goals scored by the Nerazzurri (15G, 8A). Icardi has scored a goal every 38 touches in Serie A – the best ratio among players with 10+ league goals.

 

 

Edin Dzeko has been the top marksman of Serie A with 19 goals and 2 assists – contributing to approximately 39% of Roma's 54 league goals. The fact that the Bosnian is averaging a goal every 113 minutes in Serie A typifies the kind of form he is in. With 29 goals scored across all competitions, no doubt Dzeko firing on all cylinders for the Rome-based club. The most recent between these two giants of Italian football last October saw both strikes find the back of the net, albeit for Roma as Icardi's own goal turned out to be the winning goal at the Stadio Olimpico. These two talismans will be holding the key to their respective teams' hopes of getting three points.

 

SUSPENSION OF MIRANDA

A yellow card in last weekend's 1-0 win away to Bologna meant centre-back Miranda will miss the all important game against Roma due to the accumulation of five yellow cards. The former Atletico Madrid man has been a mainstay in Inter's defence ever since his arrival in 2015 and had started each of the 25 Serie A games, underlining his importance to the team.

 

 

The 32-year-old Brazilian's ability to organise the defence is unmatched in the squad and his absence could well prove to be a huge factor in the outcome of the game. Pioli does have players like Gary Medel and Jeison Murillo at his disposal who can make up for the Brazilian's absence but with the duo having started a handful of games together at the back, lack of coordination could be a problem which they can ill-afford to have against a team like Roma. 

As aforementioned, Inter are chasing a Champions League spot while AS Roma are aiming to end their 16-year Scudetto drought. Nerazzurri are currently occupying a Europa League spot and are 6 points off third-placed Napoli. The Giallorossi, on the other hand, are 7 points adrift of leaders Juventus.
 

Serie A table

While Inter and Roma battle it out San Siro, third-placed Napoli play this season's surprise package Atalanta at home with La Dea undefeated in last five Serie A matches. Leaders Juventus have a much kind next couple of league fixtures as they come across relegation-battling Empoli and 13th-placed Udinese. Roma will be involved in yet another blockbuster match next weekend when they host Napoli whereas Inter plays away at Cagliari who are currently sitting 14th in the standings but have lost twice to them in last five meetings. With Inter and Roma encountering a tricky next couple of fixtures including a match between the two sides themselves this Sunday, it's a make or break time for both clubs in terms of fulfilling their respective ambitions. 

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