Fiorentina v Inter Milan – Stadio Artemio Franchi at 19:45 live at BT Sport
Following Frank de Boer’s sacking as Inter Milan manager, former Lazio coach Stefano Pioli was parachuted in as the stop-gap to put the Nerazzurri back on the right track. Nobody expected the journeyman to be given the gig long-term.
However, 13 wins from 15 league outings – the only slip ups coming against Juventus and Roma – saw Inter race up the Serie A standings and into contention for a top-three finish. Pioli was lauded and the talk of the town was of Inter being the returning force in Italian football.
But a month is a long time in football and the Nerazzurri’s resurgence has dissipated of late with Saturday night’s visitors stumbling badly. Incredulously, there’s now serious talk of Pioli’s job being on the line when they travel to the Artemio Franchi to face Fiorentina.
Pioli under pressure
Last time out Inter saw a 2-0 lead against city rivals Milan eaten up by two late goals – the latter equalising strike arriving seven minutes into injury time – and despite controlling large swathes of that encounter, fans were unimpressed at the final whistle and made their displeasure known.
Inter remain in seventh and missed the opportunity to overtake their neighbours in the Serie A standings. Pioli’s charges are now winless in four and have posted the division’s fifth worst defensive record across their last seven outings.
The raw facts suggest the Nerazzurri have taken top honours in half of their 10 away days under Pioli but all of their victories arrived against bottom-half clubs and when travelling to the top-10, Inter have W0-D2-L5 this term and been beaten in eight of 12 games as guests against Serie A’s leading lights.
Fiorentina lacking motivation
Hosts Fiorentina saw their six-match unbeaten streak ended in a shock loss to relegation threatened Empoli last weekend. It was La Viola’s first home defeat o the season and the Tuscans curiously lacking direction, leadership or purpose.
Head coach Paolo Sousa is almost certain to be let go in the summer and many fans were unimpressed at the Tuscans’ lack of emotion of motivation heading into the contest. Perhaps a date with one of the league’s more evocative clubs will fire Fiorentina up here?
The betting angle
The two sides can’t be separated in the market but given Inter’s recent dip and their struggles at top clubs, plus Fiorentina’s own motivational issues, it’s hard to pin your colours to either side of the mast. So instead, I’m backing goals.
Over 3 Goals has been chalked up at 2.45 and that’s a price that appeals considering eight of the last nine meetings between these two teams produced at least three goals, as have each of Inter’s last seven outings.
Fiorentina are without key centre-half Gonzalo Rodriguez and star striker Nikola Kalinic but Khouma Babacar is a decent deputy in attack. However, La Viola will now probably need to play a back-three without Gonzalo meaning midfielder Carlos Sanchez could be deployed as a centre-half.
That’ll give Inter’s razor sharp front-three of Mauro Icardi, Ivan Perisic and Antonio Candreva further encouragement and should also ensure our ploy of backing a high-scoring encounter gives us a good run for our money.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Over 3 Goals (2.45)
Prices correct at time of writing.