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Written By Onyeka Daniel

Over the weekend, Inter Milan were held to a 1-1 draw away to Juventus to maintain their lead at the top of the Serie A table and now, the Nerazzurri will have to play another away game, this time in the UCL against Benfica. They’ve already secured their place in the knockout stages of the competition after four games, alongside Real Sociedad.

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Though, there’s the matter of deciding who the group winner will be, but the coach of the side has decided to rotate his team for this encounter as he has his eyes on the weekend game against Serie A defending champions, Napoli, also an away game at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium in Naples. Perhaps, Simone Inzaghi consider the Napoli game more important, which is why he decided to ring several changes to the team and he confirmed that goalkeeper Emil Audero will start against Benfica.

The coach spoke in a press conference ahead of the match. Reports had already suggested that the former Lazio manager plans to rotate his team significantly for UCL fixture. While Inzaghi continue to insist that the job is not yet done. There is still top spot in the group left to fight for. But the reality is that the Nerazzurri are going to be more focused on the league than they are than Europe at this stage. And Inzaghi isn’t hiding the fact that he plans to make some changes to the lineup tomorrow.


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One of these includes handing former Sampdoria and Juventus keeper Audero his first ever start for Inter. Inzaghi stated plainly that “Audero will play tomorrow. “He’s been doing very well in training. I’d already hoped to give him his debut against Frosinone.” And the coach also said that “I think Sanchez can play from the start tomorrow.” “He’s been dealing with some swelling and pain in his ankle. So he missed the trip to Turin.” “Today he trained with the group,” Inzaghi confirmed regarding the former Arsenal and Barcelona veteran. “And I think he can play.” “He’s doing very well in training and we’re all very happy with him.”

Inzaghi noted of Sanchez that “He scored an important goal against Salzburg, and his condition will improve.” “It’s very important for him to get in training sessions with the team after he had trained on his own during the summer.” He added that “I haven’t had time to speak with the Chilean national team in the last few days. But I will.” Inzaghi then went on that “Against Juve we played like a mature team. We had the majority of the ball.”

“Last season we conceded two goals that were very similar against them. But this time we stayed switched-on.” The Inter coach noted that “Our goal came from five passes.” “In the second half we didn’t create much, but we know it wouldn’t be easy.” “It wasn’t spectacular, but I was happy with the way my Inter performed.” Inzaghi was also very keen to stress that he doesn’t think that the job is finished ahead of the match. “It’s an important match,” he said.

“We’re playing with the good feeling that comes from having qualified for the knockouts early,” the Nerazzurri coach said. “But our work is still not finished. We want to finish top of the group, and we know that Real Sociedad are a great team.” As far as whether he’d rather win the Serie A title or the Champions League, Inzaghi said that “We’re Inter. We Our objective is to win.”

“Last season we played 57 matches out of a possible 57,” he noted. “This is the third season in a row that we’ve reached the round of sixteen. And we’ve also qualified for the Club World Cup.” “We want to bring joy and trophies for our fans,” the Inter coach made clear. Of tomorrow’s opposition, Inzaghi said that “We’re meeting them for the fourth time in six months.”

“It’s even more difficult playing here,” he said of playing in Lisbon. “They just won the Derby. And they have also benefited from the ability to rotate their striker.” “I have a lot of respect for a coach who caused a lot of problems for PSG and Juve,” Inzaghi added. “And won their league. This time around, they lost to Salzburg and that made everything tricky for them.” He further added.

Apart from the two players confirmed by the manager, several other changes are also expected that could see Marko Arnautovic partner with Alexis Sanchez upfront, Dutch defender, Denzel Dumfries could also be rested, by Juan Cuadrado may not necessarily start, instead Matteo Darmian will play that role while Yann Bisseck will step in at the right centre-back role.

With Alessandro Bastoni out, Stefan De Vrij and Francesco Acerbi will complete the back three. Changes will also ba expected in the midfield with Albanian midfielder, Kristjan Asllani expected to start ahead of Hakan Calhanoglu, Davide Frattesi could also get a rare start while summer signing, Carlos Augusto will take the place of Federico Dimarco on the left.

Meanwhile…

Real Madrid were short of forwards this season before their injury crisis, but with Vinicius Junior out until February in all likelihood, there had been some suggestion that they might bring in another forward in the January transfer window. Not least by Mauro Icardi’s agent, who had claimed they were in talks with Real Madrid over a move.

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The former Inter Milan captain has been in fine form for Galatasaray this season, and is already on 15 goals. As a potentially available and cost-effective number nine, Elio Letterio Pino had suggested that they were speaking about a possible move. Icardi’s excellent performances haven’t gone unnoticed around Europe, but according to Italian transfer expert, Fabrizio Romano, the internal sources within Real Madrid claim they are doing no such thing.

Instead they are focused on the arrival of Endrick Felipe in January. At the age of 30, Icardi certainly knows his way around the goal, but remains very much a penalty box forward. It would be surprising, with Joselu Mato amongst their ranks already, if they went for a similar profile to accompany the likes of Jude Bellingham, Rodrygo Goes and Brahim Diaz. Perhaps, they’re scared of his fiery personality and how it could potentially disrupt their dressing room harmony.

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