How Inter Milan Will Line Up Against Verona
It's hard to see Walter Mazzarri changing things too much with his Inter side this week. The Nerazzurri are missing several key players for their game against Hellas Verona, including keeping Samir Handanovic, who was sent off in their fiery encounter with Torino last weekend.
Verona have been one of the surprise packages in Serie A so far, and though Inter won't have been too worried about this fixture at the start of the season, there's a very real chance they could drop points if they're not careful.
Hellas are actually above Mazzarri's side in the table, and thanks to the fine work being done by manager Andrea Mandorlini—who won the Scudetto as a defender for Inter—they don't look like slipping up any time soon.
Mazzarri has lost players to long term injuries, of course—Cristian Chivu, Javier Zanetti and Diego Milito, while Hugo Campagnaro was not deemed fit in time to make the squad.
It's the Argentine defender who will be most keenly missed. Inter look a different side with him in the squad, not only due to the fact that the 33-year-old is a fine defender but also because he's played for Mazzarri at Sampdoria and Napoli, making him perfectly fluent in the Tuscan coach's tactics.
Without Campagnaro, Inter are unsure and porous at the back. They've conceded six goals in the last two games, and while Roma's form suggests that the Lupi would have scored regardless of who was defending, letting minnows Torino put three past them is inexcusable.
Speaking to Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport (here in English), Mazzarri made it clear that he respects Verona and the work that their manager has done. He said:
I'd like to shake Mandorlini's hand for the work he's done with the team. They are well organised and have been able to give a new lease of life to players like Toni; he's one of those players who can really make a difference and Verona really deserve their position in the league.
They won't be easy opponents and we'll have to be careful in defence and keep an eye on minor details as we did at the start of the season. If we do that we can win, otherwise we could find ourselves in trouble.
At the back, Andrea Ranocchia in particular will have to improve greatly on his recent performances. Rolando and Juan Jesus have both acquitted themselves well, but if they're let down by the man in the middle, there's not much they can do.
Jonathan and Yuto Nagatomo should start on the flanks, with Fredy Guarin, Esteban Cambiasso and either Saphir Taider or Mateo Kovacic.
Verona could finally be a chance for Kovacic to shine. He was the unfortunate victim of Handanovic's sending off against Torino, being subbed off to allow the replacement keeper on. If he's allowed the time, this weekend could see him finally net the first Inter goal he needs.
In the same interview, Mazzarri touched on the talented young Croatian:
I didn't want to substitute him in Turin, but I explained it to him and he understood. If he plays against Verona it isn't because I'm trying to make it up to him; it's because I think he can be an asset to the team in this particular match.
The former Dinamo Zagreb star could also start behind Rodrigo Palacio up front, should Mazzarri prefer him to the returning Ricky Alvarez. Mauro Icardi still lacks match fitness, so Palacio is the obvious choice to lead the line.
Kovacic is comfortable in the more advanced position and was regularly deployed in more attacking roles while in Croatia, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him tasked with supplying the striker, should the impressive Alvarez not be fit enough.
Probable line-up: Juan Pablo Carrizo; Juan Jesus, Andrea Ranocchia, Rolando; Jonathan, Yuto Nagatomo; Fredy Guarin, Esteban Cambiasso, Mateo Kovacic; Ricky Alvarez; Rodrigo Palacio
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