Inter hoping to turn corner against Lazio
Two weeks ago Inter Milan was on top of Serie A and had not lost a match all season. Now it is seemingly in freefall and has lost three straight matches in all competitions.
Inter's latest defeat came in the Italian Cup at struggling city rival AC Milan on Wednesday and it will need to swiftly pick itself up if it is to get a result against title rival Lazio today.
"It is a painful defeat, and also maybe unexpected, because we cared a lot about this Italian Cup," Inter midfielder Antonio Candreva said after the 1-0 loss. "We were coming from two successive defeats and we must start again with confidence."
Inter moved top of Serie A with a credible 0-0 draw at Juventus on December 9. However, that was mainly down to the performance of goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, and its struggles in front of goal have continued.
Three days later, Inter needed penalties to get past third-division Pordenone after a goalless draw. That was followed by league losses to Udinese (3-1) and Sassuolo (1-0) before the Cup defeat to Milan, which played with third-choice goalkeeper Antonio Donnarumma.
Inter forward Ivan Perisic has not scored since netting a hat-trick in the 5-0 victory over Chievo at the beginning of the month, while captain Mauro Icardi who remains the league's leading goal scorer has only found the back of the net once since that match.
"You have to blame everyone when you don't win, it's everyone's fault even if maybe we need to be more clinical up front," Candreva said. Inter was outplayed in "a half against Udinese, while against Sassuolo we were punished due to certain episodes. It is a shame for us and the fans also."
Inter has slipped to third in Serie A, eight points behind leader Napoli and four behind Juventus before today's round of games. The two teams immediately below it, Roma and Lazio, have played one less match.
Lazio would move a point behind Inter with victory at San Siro.
"It's a moment in which we have lost confidence, we have less courage and we are less convinced of our qualities," Inter coach Luciano Spalletti said. "The players are doing well from a physical point of view and we are not lacking in quality. But we shouldn't wait for our problems to be resolved by someone else. We have to resolve things by ourselves."