The new year begins with a visit from relegation-threatened Verona

Inter’s 2023 didn’t end in stellar fashion, but it has the chance to make sure 2024 gets started off on the right foot when Hellas Verona visits in a rare early Saturday kickoff. The Gialloblu currently sit 17th on 14 points, only safe from relegation on goal differential and a mere two points clear of the bottom of the table. They have managed just one win from the last 16 outings, drawing 5 and losing 10, including a 1-0 home defeat to 20th-placed Salernitana to close the curtains on 2023. Verona’s attack, which ranks 3rd worst in Serie A, has been most to blame for the current run of form, scoring a paltry 12 in those 16 games and drawing blanks 8 times. The Gialloblu’s defense has been a bit better, with only the 8th most conceded, but the backline is far from a strength either. 

In short, things have not been looking very bright for the Mastini, and while Verona is no stranger to relegation danger (stayed up last season only after beating Spezia in a relegation playoff), this season is looking more and more like the one where their luck runs out. Swedish international centre-back Isak Hien has already moved on to Atalanta, and if rumours are true, fellow starters Martin Hongla, Filippo Terracciano, and Josh Doig will follow him out the door. There still are some players more than capable of causing Inter problems even without that quartet, namely the striker duo of Cyril Ngonge (5 goals, 2 assists) and Milan Đurić (4g, 1a), Verona’s main (and only) danger-men up front.

Inter, meanwhile, gave up a 4-point lead over Juventus only two weeks after earning it in the 1-1 draw with Genoa. They do remain 2 clear of the Bianconeri, but another slip-up and that advantage would disappear as well, as anything other than a Juve win against Salernitana on Sunday is highly unlikely. The pressure will be on to get back into the win column and start 2024 off on the right foot, but Simone Inzaghi will have a boost in the form of Lautaro Martínez and Federico Dimarco’s returns to the squad, while Benjamin Pavard is expected to replace the impressive Yann Bisseck in the backline. With an almost complete roster at the ready, Inter should be able to hit the ground running and ease past Verona.

Projected Inter lineup (3-5-2): Sommer; Pavard, Acerbi, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Çalhanoğlu, Mkhitaryan, Carlos Augusto; Thuram, Lautaro. Juan Cuadrado is out through injury and Tajon Buchanan is ineligible to play as he has not obtained a work permit in Italy yet, something non-EU citizens require. Tajon will be in attendance at the Giuseppe Meazza.

Projected Verona lineup (4-2-3-1): Montipò; Tchatchoua, Dawidowicz, Magnani, Doig; Suslov, Duda; Ngonge, Folorunsho, Lazović; Đurić.

Inter-Verona is set to kick off on Saturday, January 6 at 12:30 CET / 6:30 EST.