Sunday August 20 2017
Five crucial fixtures for... Inter

With Serie A kicking off this weekend, Football Italia looks at the crucial fixtures for Inter, looking to return to the Champions League.

Pre-season has gone more smoothly than last year, when Roberto Mancini left two weeks before the campaign began.

Frank de Boer replaced him, but after a disastrous 14 games the Dutchman was shown the door and replaced by Stefano Pioli.

After a promising start led to top-three aspirations, the Nerazzurri dramatically collapsed and Pioli was also sacked, with Stefano Vecchi taking charge until the end of the season.

With new Coach Luciano Spalletti having had the whole of pre-season, the Beneamata are confident of a better campaign this time around.

Here’s where their season will stand or fall.

Roma-Inter [Week 2]

It’s a tough start for the Nerazzurri, with Fiorentina visiting San Siro in Week 1.

Following that match, Luciano Spalletti returns to Roma, having led the Giallorossi to a record points total last season.

The Coach is likely to be given a frosty reception, but his seat on the Beneamata bench could become distinctly hot if the first two games don’t go well.

Napoli-Inter [Week 9]

Maurizio Sarri’s side are expected to challenge for the Scudetto this season, and if Inter are to compete at the top they’ll need to prove their worth at the San Paolo.

Last season saw Inter beaten 3-0 on their trip to Naples, and an early visit to Campania will give an indication of how far the Nerazzurri have or haven’t progressed.

Sassuolo-Inter [Week 19]

Sassuolo have been something of a bogey team for Inter in recent seasons, and that’s not a reference to the colour of their kits.

The Neroverdi took a 2-1 win at San Siro last season, and though the Beneamata took a 1-0 win at Mapei Stadium, they’ve lost four of their last five fixtures against the Emilian outfit.

Sassuolo are the kind of team the Nerazzurri really need to be beating to achieve their aim of returning to the Champions League, and they face them just before Christmas.

Inter-Juventus [Week 35]

There are only three Serie A games after the second Derby d’Italia of the season, and as such it could be a crucial match for both sides.

Inter will hope to be competing with the Bianconeri in the Scudetto race, so three points at the Meazza could make or break their title challenge.

One of the few highlights of De Boer’s reign was a 2-1 win over Juve in Week 4 last year, and a repeat performance will be needed this year.

Lazio-Inter [Week 38]

The final weekend of Serie A looks set to be dramatic, and Inter’s trip to Lazio may just be the tie of the round.

The Nerazzurri don’t exactly have happy memories of this fixture, having lost the Scudetto with a 4-2 defeat at the Olimpico on May 5, 2002.

If the Scudetto race goes down to the wire, and Spalletti’s men are involved, expect to hear a lot about 5 Maggio…

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