The Nerazzurri return to San Siro having pushed Barcelona to the brink of Champions League elimination, and now face opponents who surprisingly sit just four places below them in the standings.
After a close-fought opening period at Camp Nou on Wednesday, a chaotic classic unfolded in the second half of Inter’s 3-3 draw with Group C rivals Barcelona, in which the Milan side came within minutes of snatching a famous victory.
Battling bravely and ruthlessly exposing their hosts’ defensive flaws on the counter, Simone Inzaghi‘s side found the net through Nicolo Barella, Lautaro Martinez and substitute Robin Gosens, before Robert Lewandowski‘s late leveller denied them a first away win over the Catalan club.
Inzaghi was in need of another positive result in Europe, as taking four points off Barcelona – which puts Inter within touching distance of the last 16 – deflects from a dire start to the Serie A campaign.
Even after beating Sassuolo 2-1 with an unconvincing display last weekend, the Nerazzurri sat seventh after the first nine rounds, having lost three of their previous four league matches.
Often unable to sustain early momentum, no team has conceded more goals in the second half of Serie A matches this term, and a worrying tally of 10 equals the total they shipped throughout their first 31 games last season.
Already eight points behind league leaders Napoli, Inter cannot afford to fall further adrift of their Scudetto rivals before the action comes to a halt for the World Cup, so they are under pressure to take maximum points from a trio of fixtures against Fiorentina, Sampdoria and, first, this week’s visitors to San Siro.
Seemingly bound for Serie B until their miraculous late escape, last season Salernitana lost both games against Inter by a 5-0 scoreline, so will need no reminding about the gulf in class that separates the sides.
Nonetheless, with their hosts only now finding some form, the Granata’s impressive start to the 2022-23 season sees them a mere five points behind their illustrious opponents in the standings.
Bouncing back from consecutive defeats, which had seen them concede a total of seven goals against Lecce and Sassuolo, last week they posted their second Serie A win by beating Verona 2-1 in dramatic circumstances.
Salernitana could now win two Serie A games in succession for the first time since April; however, they are winless in their last six away matches – posting five draws and a 5-0 loss in the process.
Though Marcelo Brozovic and Romelu Lukaku are still sidelined by thigh injuries – the latter is now closing in on his return – Inter can welcome back Joaquin Correa on Sunday, and the Argentinian striker is likely to take a place on the bench.
After ending his goal drought at Camp Nou, Lautaro Martinez now aims to get back on track in Serie A, having failed to find the net in his last five league matches. ‘El Toro’ has scored four goals in two previous games against Salernitana, including a hat-trick at San Siro in March.
Joining him up front in Simone Inzaghi’s 3-5-2 formation, Edin Dzeko has been directly involved in four goals (two of his own; two assists) in two matches against the Salerno outfit.
The visitors, meanwhile, will be without Matteo Lovato, Giulio Maggiore and veteran winger Franck Ribery; Ivan Radovanovic misses out, too, as he serves a suspension for his late dismissal versus Verona.
Tonny Vilhena and Grigoris Kastanos are the leading contenders to replace Radovanovic and Maggiore in midfield, while former Inter man Antonio Candreva features on the right wing. The latter, who scored 12 goals and provided 25 assists in 124 Serie A appearances for the Nerazzurri, has also scored six times against them during spells at Sampdoria and Lazio.
Inter Milan possible starting lineup:
Onana; Skriniar, Acerbi, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Asllani, Calhanoglu, Gosens; Martinez, Dzeko
Salernitana possible starting lineup:
Sepe; Gyomber, Daniliuc, Pirola; Candreva, Kastanos, Coulibaly, Vilhena, Bradaric; Dia, Piatek