Seeking redemption following a shock Coppa Italia exit on Tuesday, Inter return to Serie A action with a must-win home clash against Lecce. Saturday’s encounter at Giuseppe Meazza seems like a presentable opportunity for Simone Inzaghi’s charges to renew optimism after a midweek heartbreak. 

Lautaro Martinez’s missed penalty midway through the second half returned to haunt Inter against Bologna. Despite taking an extra-time lead through Carlos Augusto, they conceded twice in the last five minutes to lose a two-season stranglehold on the Coppa Italia. If it’s any consolation, Nerazzurri can now turn their attention toward winning their first Scudetto in three years. 

Confidence should still be high around the Inter camp as they commence this round as the Serie A leaders, four points clear of second-placed Juventus. Inzaghi’s men have been virtually unplayable in league football this season, as evidenced by their formidable ten-game unbeaten streak in the lead-up to this fixture (W8, D2), bookended by a gutsy 2-0 win at Lazio last time out. 

Visiting Lecce won’t be short of sanguinity either after scoring a late winner in a 2-1 home triumph against Frosinone last weekend. Not only did that result end the visitors’ embarrassing 11-game winless league run (D6, L5), but it steered them eight points clear of 18th-placed Empoli. 

But head coach Roberto D’Aversa must pull another rabbit out of the hat to keep his team on the upward trajectory against a more heavily fancied Inter.

Match Preview

Inter

Marcus Thuram and Martinez’s strikes at the Stadio Olimpico took the Serie A leaders’ goal haul to 39, a feat unmatched in Italy’s top-tier competition. Not only are Inter the division’s most prolific side, but they’re also the meanest defense, having conceded a league-low seven goals in the first 16 rounds. 

A perfect balance between offense and defense makes Inter the frontrunners in the Scudetto race. Adding to this sentiment, Inzaghi’s men have left their opposition scoreless in 11 of their 13 league victories this season, underscoring their unparalleled dominance in one of the tactically most challenging championships in the world. 

Further confidence comes from the fact Inter outplayed Lecce in both Serie A meetings last season, emerging 2-0 victors in this corresponding fixture in March. 

Lecce

Lecce’s struggle in this match-up is long-standing, with a disastrous record of 16 defeats across their last 17 visits to Meazza painting a bleak picture for the visitors (D1). Giallorossi will fancy their chances on Saturday, nonetheless. That’s because they’ve avoided defeat in seven of their last nine league games (W1, D6). 

Their fighting spirit has been equally impressive. D’Aversa’s men have rescued eight points from losing positions this season. However, Lecce will probably have to play out of their skin to upset the apple cart this weekend, as they remain one of only four Serie A sides yet to pick up a win in the hostile setting this term (D5, L2). 

If you consider they’ve yet to keep a clean sheet on the road, it’s barely surprising their last league win outside Stadio Via del Mare dates back to May. 

Team News

Besides long-term absentee Stefan de Vrij, Inter will be without Juan Cuadrado, Federico Dimarco, Alexis Sanchez, Denzel Dumfries, and Martinez. With fatigue catching up with Inzaghi’s squad, the Italian manager must prove his tactical prowess to lead injury-ravaged Nerazzurri to another league success. 

On the other hand, Lecce will take this trip without injured winger Pontus Almqvist, while there’s still a question mark over Patrick Dorgu’s head. But the remainder of D’Aversa’s squad is fit and ready to challenge Inter’s title credentials. 

Inter vs Lecce Potential Lineups

Inter (3-5-2): Yann Sommer; Yann Bisseck, Francesco Acerbi, Alessandro Bastoni; Matteo Darmian, Nicolo Barella, Hakan Calhanoglu, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Carlos Augusto; Marcus Thuram, Marko Arnautovic. 

Lecce (4-3-3): Wladimiro Falcone; Valentin Gendrey, Marin Pongracic, Federico Baschiroto, Antonino Gallo; Joan Gonzalez, Ylber Ramadani, Remi Oudin; Gabriel Strefezza, Roberto Piccoli, Lameck Banda. 

Inter vs Lecce Prediction

Injuries to several esteemed first-team stars threaten to undermine Inter’s hopes of posting another commanding home triumph. However, we believe Inzaghi’s men have enough quality to live up to their tag as pre-match favorites and extend Lecce’s misery on the road. 

While we won’t put it past the visitors to trouble the scoreboard, it would take something special to hold Inter winless at Meazza. 

Prediction: Inter Win

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