Serie A Week 21 – 22 Jan 2017 (14.00 UK)
Palermo – Inter
Stadio Renzo Barbera


Stefano Pioli’s Inter are expected to get a sixth consecutive Serie A victory when they visit a Palermo side in crisis.

The Nerazzurri will look to pile on the pressure and attack a weakened opponent, currently sitting in the drop zone on only 10 points. The Nerazzurri are in fine form of late and have been consistent in the final third, averaging over two goals per game over their last five. Meanwhile, the Rosanero are in their normal array of confusion on the topic of a coaching change, as Eugenio Corini’s spot on the bench lingers from supported to questionable with every passing week.

It’s a situation Pioli knows all too well, having been fired by Palermo just 90 days into the job in August 2011.

Pioli has introduced a new look with the incoming Roberto Gagliardini starting immediately following his transfer from Atalanta alongside Geoffrey Kongdobia as the holding midfielders in a 4-2-3-1, with Joao Mario playing as the number 10. Flanked by Antonio Candreva and Ivan Perisic and with league leading goalscorer Mauro Icardi as the lone striker, Inter’s attack should be able to create a plethora of scoring chances against a struggling Palermo backline.

Unfortunately for Pioli, he will still have some players who are coming off little rest after the Coppa Italia victory over Bologna midweek went to extra time. A serious push for Inter to climb the table looks viable after five straight wins. They currently trail third-placed Napoli by a mere five points, and a push towards Champions League qualification is pressing.

Palermo, on the other hand, will look for some calm after the public reassurance of faith in Coach Eugenio Corini this week, but know the task to challenge an in-form Inter comes at a bad time. Palermo have only managed two wins all season and have given up a disappointing 40 goals already.

The Rosanero should remain in the same 3-4-3 system that lost to Sassuolo 4-1 last weekend. Carlos Embalo, Ilija Nestorovski, and Robin Quaison lead the attack for Palermo, as they hope their home field advantage and Inter’s midweek match fatigue can spark the chance for a few goal-scoring opportunities. In the midfield Bruno Henrique and Mato Jajalo will be trusted to battle with Joao Mario, Kongdobia, and Gagliardini. Palermo’s defence, albeit shaky, remains intact for this weekend’s game and has a huge responsibility in limiting Inter’s chances.

Expect Palermo’s misery to continue and Inter to prevail at the Renzo Barbera for the first time since 2010. Pioli’s side are in lethal form and should be motivated to continue to put up the effort necessary. For Corini and Palermo, a bit of luck and the atmosphere from the stadium could do wonders.

Keep an eye on: Mauro Icardi (Inter) – With a league-leading 15 goals, Inter hitman Icardi will look to add to his tally and help his team to a sixth consecutive victory. The Argentinian has found consistency in front of the net this season and become crucial for his teammates, providing seven assists.

Form Guide: Palermo (L L D W L) Inter (W W W W W)

Last season: Palermo 1-1 Inter

Stat fact: Inter have had difficulty at the Renzo Barbera, not having come away with a victory since a 2-1 result in September 2010, achieving just two draws and two defeats.

Top tip: Mauro Icardi to score anytime

Palermo (probable): Posavec; Vitiello, Gonzalez, Goldaniga; Rispoli, Bruno Henrique, Jajalo, Pezzella; Embalo, Nestorovski, Quaison

Suspended: None

Inter (probable): Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Murillo, Miranda, Ansaldi; Gagliardini, Kondogbia; Candreva, Joao Mario, Perisic; Icardi

Prediction:under 2.5 goal