The champions were four points clear at the top at the start of February but trail Milan by two, albeit with a game less, ahead of their trip to the Italian Riviera after a miserable month which also saw them effectively knocked out of Europe . by Liverpool.
Simone Inzaghi’s side left Milan, who could only draw 2-2 down Salernitana, clinched on Sunday when they fell 2-0 to giant killers Sassuolo. The game exposed their problems in front of goal.
“A team that wants to win the Scudetto cannot approach a game like that” Inzaghi said after his side’s first-half blitz.
Still top scorers in Serie A, Inter had enough chances to earn at least a point against Sassuolo while the derby loss to Milan – which started this current blip – and Liverpool’s loss are both came after strong performances that deserved more accolades.
Lautaro Martinez was the worst offender against Sassuolomissing an open goal from inches wide and showing why he has scored just once in his last 11 appearances in all competitions.
The good news for Inter comes in the form of Marcelo Brozovic, the Croatian’s suspension was a big part of why Sassuolo went wild in the first half at the San Siro.
Brozovic is a cornerstone of Inter’s game and the contrast between their performances against Liverpool with the 29-year-old and against Sassuolo without him was stark.
Milan will maintain their league lead if they beat Udinese before Inter take to the pitch at Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
Stefano Pioli’s side kicked off the weekend’s fixtures, lucky to still be ahead after third-placed Inter and Napoli missed chances to move last weekend.
Napoli have 10 huge days ahead of them, with Barcelona coming to town on Thursday before taking on Champions League-chasing Lazio in Rome on Sunday night and then hosting Milan, who they currently trail by three points.
Luciano Spalletti said on Wednesday he has Lorenzo Insigne and Matteo Politano back for Barca. Victor Osimhen in fine form and scoring crucial goals after his late Cagliari leveler saved Napoli from a deserved defeat on Monday.
Player to watch: Mattia Zaccagni
Zaccagni took some time to fold after leaving Verona for Lazio with the season already underway in August, but has been hugely impressive in recent weeks, racking up goals and assists for Maurizio Sarri’s side who are is improving rapidly.
With league top scorer Ciro Immobile and Pedro likely out of action, Zaccagni and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic will be key to Lazio’s performance against Napoli as they try to close the four-point gap between them and Juventus, fourth, in Champions. League race.