The sun has been shining in Nerazzurri Land and while it seems ideal to bask in the light, one cannot help but feel trepidation due to the inconsistencies shown by the squad earlier in the season. That being said, let me step away from being a "Debbie Downer" and relish the positivity that the squad has started to show recently.
We all know everything is far from perfect, but how great would it be if Inter rode this wave of encouraging results all the way until the end of the season? Yes, that is still two months away but the schedule is favorable and as long as the squad does not sit on their laurels, a European spot sits on the horizon.
Inter is in 5th place; one point above Parma and one point below Fiorentina. This weekend's fixture is away to Hellas Verona, who seems to have sealed their stay in Italy's top flight for next year. Verona had an incredibly solid first half of the season, where they held on tightly to the fifth spot that the Milanese side now occupies.
The Gialloblu have slightly faltered ever since they grabbed a point from Juventus a month ago, but they are in no way to be underestimated. The Bentegodi has been a fortress for them and is one of the more hostile grounds for visiting clubs.
Despite this, Inter are in a good position to fight for all three points. The Nerazzurri are playing with confidence right now and since Verona are currently shuffling, it seems like a good time to try and stamp our presence in the land of Montague and Capulet.
Date: Saturday, March 15
Time: 20.45 CET / 3.45 pm ET / 12.45 pm PT
Venue: Stadio Bentegodi
Inter Probable Starting XI: (3-5-2) Handanovic; Samuel, Ranocchia, Rolando; Jonathan, Guarin, Cambiasso, Hernanes, Nagatomo; Palacio, Icardi
Verona Probable Starting XI: (4-3-3) Rafael; Moras, Maietta, Cacciatore, Agostini; Romulo, Marquinho, Cirigliano; Toni, Jankovic, Iturbe
Unavailable for Duty: Juan Jesus is serving his second game of a three match suspension after his appeal was turned down. Ricky Alvarez is doubtful for the trip to Verona, as he is struggling with a slight injury to his left knee.
Operation Romeo and Juliet: The objective is to not let Tybalt... er, Verona get in the way. Right now, Inter is standing on the balcony, looking and calling for a European spot. We will fight for the three points, which will hopefully help us achieve our "happily ever after" instead of ending up as a star-crossed dream.
Enemy of The State: One name has been splashed across headlines in both Italy and England: Juan Manuel Iturbe. The diminutive Argie has made a name for himself while on loan from Porto, with both Inter and Liverpool highly interested. Iturbe said he would like to stay in Serie A and will be looking to have a stellar performance to impress his potential future employers.
Fear Factor: 5. This could be higher due to Verona's notoriety of being a VERY difficult place to play (they held Juventus to a 2-2 draw a month ago), but it could be lower as the home side has been inconsistent as of late. Maybe the thing to fear most is any potential racial chants that the Verona Ultras are infamous for....
Medal of Honor: Deciding between Esteban Cambiasso and Rodrigo Palacio is proving to be hard, so they are both getting the nod this week. Cuchu has been nothing short of amazing lately and is truly the general on the field. El Trenza was back on the score sheet with his wonderful winning header (TOTALLY meant it, by the way) and I, for one, am a fan of seeing that fabulous rattail flying in the wind while working on and off the ball.
If Inter Win: I will continue to celebrate my birthday with a bottle champagne and party into the wee hours of the morning.
If Verona Win: I will be inexplicably cranky to my friends, throw back a few shots of Jager, and possibly buy another pair of Christian Louboutin shoes to comfort myself.
Likely Outcome: Based on the forms of both teams over the last month, I am going to go with the Nerazzurri prevailing 2-1. (FYI - I hate making predictions.)