Probable lineups, predictions, tactics, team news and key stats

Inter Milan take on newly-promoted Lecce in their 2022/23 Serie A season opener on Saturday as they look to challenge for the title.

Another season of Italian football is upon us, and the focus will soon shift from this summer’s enthralling transfer window to the upcoming opening fixtures. 2021/22 has been one of the most competitive campaigns for the Italian top flight in the last decade, with AC Milan, Inter and Napoli all enjoying spells at the top of the table, as the title race was happening on the wire.

AC Milan eventually edged long-distance rivals Inter by just two points to win their first Shield in 11 years and complete the resurrection of both San Siro clubs, ending Juventus’ nine-year hegemony. It remains to be seen whether the Shield will return to the city of Milan for a third successive season, but Simone Inzaghi hopes the footballing gods will be on his side this time rather than the Rossoneri.

Despite winning two trophies last year, losing the Serie A title to traditional city foes AC Milan was a big shock for the Inter faithful and a bitter pill to swallow. before summer. And this despite the fact that Simone Inzaghi’s men were actually the most successful team in Italy in terms of attacking and defensive measures.

But Inter have made a number of interesting acquisitions, including the much-publicized loan return of Romelu Lukaku, who played a major role in their title success in 2021. But their pre-season record was for the less uneven, as they have won only one of their five games, against Swiss club FC Lugano.

The Nerazzurri start 2022/23 as favorites after their exploits in the transfer market. Inzaghi will be aiming to turn last season’s frustration into a major source of motivation for the season ahead, and a trip to newly-promoted Lecce seems to offer them the perfect opportunity to make a statement.

Lecce, meanwhile, return to Serie A after two years in Serie B. They stormed to the Serie B title under Marco Baroni. In theory, they should be the team best equipped for survival of the three newcomers this season, but Monza’s other graduates are in the spotlight with their top-flight acquisitions at the moment.

Lecce are coming off a 3-2 loss to Serie B side Cittadella last Friday, ending their Coppa Italia campaign abruptly in the first round itself. They face an uphill battle against Inter in the 2022/23 Serie A season opener. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides can take to the field at night and what tactics they might use.

Team News and Tactics

Lecce

Lecce boss Marco Baroni has been extremely proactive this summer and has made plenty of signings. They could make a few more moves as their side are still one of the weakest in Serie A. Baroni’s men had a dreadful start to the season with an extra-time loss to Cittadella last week and will be looking to improve their last release here.

The minnows will be without the services of Kastriot Dermaku, Kristoffer Askildsen and Alessandro Tuia, with the trio recovering from their respective injuries. Baroni will likely deploy a 4-3-3 formation with Wladimiro Falcone in goal for the Paprika. Guarding the Sampdoria loanee will be a tight back-four consisting of Valentin Gendrey, Alexis Blin, Mert Cetin and Gianluca Frabotta.

A midfield three should be in order, with Kristijan Bistrovic, Morten Hjulmand and Johann Helgason hoping to keep their Inter Milan counterparts quiet on the night. The responsibility of attacking the Inter Milan defense will fall to the front three of Gabriel Strefezza, Assan Ceesay and Di Francesco.

Ceesay, who scored 20 goals in 32 Swiss Super League appearances last season, will be the hosts’ centre-forward and is likely to find himself out of service from the start, so he will need to be clinical to disguise any rare clean chances.

Probable composition (4-3-3): Falcone; Gendrey, Blin, Cetin, Frabotta; Bistrovic, Hjulmand, Helgason; Strefezza, Ceesay, Di Francesco

InterMilan

Last season, Inter Milan flew under manager Simone Inzaghi and controlled the title race in December. However, their attempt to progress further in the UEFA Champions League has overburdened their side, which saw them falter at domestic level in February, where they averaged a point per game over seven appearances.

To address the issue, Inter Milan have done a decent business so far by retaining last season’s core squad and cutting their wage bill to make room for new signings to bolster the depth of their squad. crew.

The Nerazzurri enter the game with a good state of health, with the exception of Danilo D’Ambrosio. Inzaghi will likely stick to his preferred 3-5-2 formation, with veteran keeper Samir Handanovic retaining his place between the sticks for the visitors.

Despite numerous rumors of a potential exit, Milan Skriniar appear to have stayed put at San Siro, and will continue in a back three alongside Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni to build a formidable rear guard.

The longer the central defensive trio maintain their form, the easier it will be for full-backs Robin Gosens and Denzel Dumfries to bomb forward and create a threat. The duo will have plenty of free space on the flanks to press Lecce’s defense and make late runs at the back post.

Nicolo Barella, Marcelo Brozovic and Hakan Calhanoglu should be the preferred options in the middle of the park as usual. Lukaku’s performances will be crucial in determining what the highest ceiling will be for them this season.

If the Belgium international can find his feet and give his side the extra flair, focal point and clinical nature that was missing in the second half of last season, Inter would once again be a dominant force, with their telepathic chemistry on the pitch with strike partner Lautaro Martinez leading the Shield charge.

Probable composition (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Gosens; Martinez, Lukaku

Key statistics

  • Inter Milan are unbeaten in 11 of their last 12 games against Lecce in all competitions. That said, they are winless in the last three visits to the Stadio Comunale Via del Mare and have won only six of the last 12 trips to Lecce (D3 L3).
  • Inter Milan had the best attack in Serie A last season, scoring 84 goals and winning eight of their last ten games by more than one goal.
  • Lecce have the undesirable record of being the club that have played the most Serie A matchday one games without a win (16).
  • Inter should have no trouble scoring goals on the opening weekend, having found the back of the net ten times in five pre-season games, despite failing to keep a clean sheet during each of these outings.
  • The visitors are unbeaten in their last 11 Serie A games against newly promoted sides on Serie A matchday one (W9 D2). On August 26, 2019, they beat Lecce 4-0 in Antonio Conte’s first game in charge.

Player to watch

Romelu Lukaku

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After a disappointing first season with Chelsea following his big move to Stamford Bridge, Lukaku is back at Inter Milan on loan and will have unfinished business to convince the ultras who aren’t too happy with his return. Inter’s main requirement this summer was an Edin Dzeko upgrade, and Lukaku’s return seemed the ideal option given his relationship with Lautaro Martinez.

Lukaku and Martinez have combined for 41 goals and 20 assists in the 2020/21 Serie A campaign, and if they are equally clinical this season, the odds will stack up in Inter’s favor to fight against the Shield this season.

The deadly Serie A duo worked like magic under Antonio Conte, but the question is, will it be the same with Inzaghi now in charge? Nonetheless, Lecce might have their hands full trying to contain Lukaku. It would be safe to assume the Belgium striker will find the back of the net on his second arc here.

Prediction

Lecce 1-3 Inter Milan

Inter come into the game as big favourites. The two teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum and will be keen to stand out. However, the quality of the The Nerazzurri a star-studded lineup should materialize, and it should be a comfortable win.

Inter outclasses Lecce in every way. Visitors should have an easy night. But the hosts have a chance to make their presence felt in Italy’s top flight and will be encouraged by the fact that Simone Inzaghi’s side have been dropping goals for the sake of pre-season.

Last season, Inter got into the habit of brushing off inferior opponents and are likely to create a decent amount of chances and shots on target. Unless Inter are having a terrible day at the office, the 2021/22 Coppa Italia winners should walk away with all three points here.

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