Inter’s faltering Scudetto challenge could be dealt another blow this weekend when they face city rivals AC Milan at San Siro.
Roberto Mancini’s side had led the way for most of the Serie A campaign until recent weeks, but have slipped to fourth after one win in their last five matches.
That poor run of form has seen Inter drop six points behind leaders Napoli, and should their struggles continue in the derby on Sunday their dreams of a first title since 2010 will fade further.
“We need to rediscover the togetherness and determination we had before and get back to playing the way we were,” goalkeeper Samir Handanovic told Mediaset.
“The derby is unlike any other game but it’s still three points up for grabs.
“So far it’s been a balanced league this year and we’re still in with a shout. There are lots of matches still to play and lots of head-to-head encounters too.”
Inter’s recent record in the derby will give them some hope of arresting their slide. Mancini’s men – who could hand a start to new arrival Eder – are unbeaten in their last three and have only lost one of their last nine competitive meetings with Milan.
Speaking after completing his move from Sampdoria on Friday, Eder told the club’s official website: “I’ve been training over the last couple of days, I’m in good shape physically and even though there are only two days to go until the derby I’m available.
“It’s up to the boss to decide [who plays]. There are lots of forward here and they’re all doing well – the strength of a team lies in having all the players ready to compete. The main thing is to win the derby. It doesn’t matter who scores.”
Milan come into the 164th league encounter between the two rivals having only lost once in their last eight matches, a run that has seen them climb to sixth.
Carlos Bacca has led the line well with four goals in those games, taking his tally into double figures with an eighth minute strike in the 2-2 draw with Empoli last weekend.
Milan have continued to struggle for consistency with three successive victories their best winning run of the campaign, something captain Riccardo Montolivo hopes can improve as they look to secure a return to European football next season.
“The regret this season is that of not being able to find that consistency when needed most,” he told Milan’s website. “The derby in this sense is crucial and in order to keep our hopes alive.”
Key Opta Stats:
– This will be the 164th Derby della Madonnina in Serie A: Inter lead by 61 wins to 50.
– AC Milan have won only one of the last nine Serie A derbies, losing five times in the process.
– Giacomo Bonaventura has netted four goals in his seven Serie A clashes with Inter (none with AC Milan): the Nerazzurri are his favourite opponent in the top-flight.
– Ivan Perisic has not scored in his last 12 Serie A appearances: since his last goal in the league, he has attempted 19 shots.
– Both Inter and AC Milan have not scored more than one goal in each of their last seven Serie A clashes.