Parma v Inter Milan Preview
Stadio Ennio Tardini, Parma
MATCH IN A SENTENCE: Inter Milan are winless in the league since beating Juventus earlier this month, and with losses in each of their last two visits to the Ennio Tardini they’ll have to be at their very best if they’re to take three points off Parma and keep bite into the Bianconeri’s four-point lead atop the table.
BREAKDOWN: The euphoria of Inter’s win in Turin on November 3 was followed by the disappointment of a 3-2 loss at Atalanta and then, on November 18, a 2-2 draw at home to Cagliari.
Thankfully for the Nerazzurri the injury problems that plagued them (especially their defense) earlier this month have mostly been put behind them, and manager Andrea Stramaccioni will take to Parma as healthy a side as he’s had all season.
One player who won’t be involved for the guests, however, is Wesley Sneijder, who has been told he won’t play for the club again unless he agrees a modified contract or is sold in January. That said, Stramaccioni insists he wouldn’t have taken the Dutch playmaker to Parma, anyway, telling reporters in his pre-match press conference that “right now my position as coach is not to use him on a technical decision based on what I see in training.”
In any event, it’s likely Sneijder, 28 and with two years remaining on his current deal, has already played his last for the Nerazzurri.
On the other side of the ball Parma have no such distractions and club president Tommaso Ghirardi, for one, is keenly looking forward to Monday’s match.
“I have been thinking about this game for a long time,” Ghirardi wrote on the club’s official website. “We know we are facing a very strong side. However, we’ve been extremely hard to beat at the Tardini over the last eight months and are coming off a long series of positive results.”
Parma, currently 10th in the standings, are unbeaten at home this season and have lost just one of their last six matches in Serie A.
ESSENTIALS: Parma defender Fabio Santacroce is injured and will miss Monday’s match, as will midfielder Daniele Galloppa. Midfielder Marco Parolo is suspended.
Inter are still without both defender Christian Chivu and midfielder Dejan Stankovic, although both players took part in Friday training. Midfielder Joel Obi is also sidelined and both midfielder Walter Gargano and forward Antonio Cassano are suspended.
With Cassano suspended look for Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho to come into the squad and operate in the hole behind Diego Milito and Rodrigo Palacio.
One of the teams rumoured to be interested in signing Sneijder in January is Russia’s Anzhi Makhachkala, which is managed by former Netherlands boss Guus Hiddink.
KEY BATTLE: Inter midfielder Fredy Guarin will come in for the suspended Gargano and operate alongside Esteban Cambiaso in the centre of the park on Monday. Parma will generally have three midfielders crowding that space (Marco Marchionni, Gianluca Musacci and Marco Parolo) so it will fall to whoever plays in the hole for Inter (likely Coutinho) to drop back and help win the possession battle.
FORMATIONS: Parma manager Roberto Donadoni will deploy a 4-3-3 formation with Nicola Sansone, Amauri and Ishak Belfodil across the forward line. Stramaccioni will use his favoured 3-4-1-2 formation with Juan, Walter Samuel and Andrea Ranocchia in defense.
BETLINE: Parma 9/5; Draw 9/4; Inter Milan 6/4. Inter lost 3-1 on this ground last season but beat Parma 5-0 at the San Siro.