Simone Inzaghi wants Inter to take their "anger" out on Juventus when they do battle in the Derby d’Italia at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

The Nerazzurri have slipped from the top of the table to third after winning just one of their past seven Serie A games.

Inter are six points behind leaders Milan with a game in hand and in-form Juve will move above the champions if they win the derby in Turin.

Head coach Inzaghi expects his side to show what they are made of in such a huge game after the international break.

He told reporters on Saturday: "We have only been back in full training for two days. Yesterday we trained well, we need anger, but also character.

"We know that in the last seven games we have lost points and results, rather than performances. Tomorrow we have to play a great match, of personality and character, against an opponent of great value and in a difficult stadium."

While Inter have lost their way, Juve are unbeaten in 16 Serie A matches.

Yet Inzaghi sees the game as the perfect opportunity for Inter to make a statement and silence their critics.

"It will be a very important match, there could not have been a better match at the moment to give a strong signal." the former Lazio boss said.

He added: "I think that criticism is part of our profession and must be accepted. I can distinguish the constructive ones that help to grow and mature, from those built with art that I don't take into consideration."

Inter duo Marcelo Brozovic and Stefan de Vrij will be assessed after training on Saturday, having been sidelined by calf injuries.

The Nerazzurri have won only one of their past 15 away meetings with Juve in all competitions, that solitary victory coming back in November 2012.

It wasn't so long ago that voicing the idea of Juventus challenging for the Scudetto this season would have seen you laughed out of the room.

Yet, remarkably, they could potentially end the weekend just four points off the summit, and a victory over defending champions Inter would be a decent barometer of just how emphatic their late push is going to be.

Serie A's standout match this week is undoubtedly the Derby d'Italia between Juve and Inter in Turin, with Italy's top flight essentially establishing a pretty firm top four ahead of the international break.

But Massimiliano Allegri's Juve surely won't be content with just settling for fourth spot, and a win on Sunday will show they mean business.

A bedrock for improvement

Even if Juve do end up winning Serie A, Allegri will still have to contend with plenty of critics given their shock Champions League exit to Villarreal.

However, there's little doubt he has presided over a significant improvement since Andrea Pirlo's exit, even if the Old Lady remains more functional than fun.

 

The most notable aspect of their improved form is Juve's unbeaten streak. They have not lost any of their previous 16 league games, making them only one of two teams across the big five leagues to not suffer a domestic defeat in the past four months, the other being Sevilla in LaLiga.

The omens are good for Inter's visit as well: the Nerazzurri have won just once in 15 trips to Juve and that came way back in November 2012.
 

Timely break

Simone Inzaghi must have been concerned about Inter's form prior to the international break, which seemingly came at a good time for them.

Over their previous nine Serie A matches, Inter have gained just 11 points and won only two matches – sure, victory on Sunday and another in their game in hand will put them within three points of the summit, but that previous run is hardly a hallmark of champions.

By comparison, Juve have hit the accelerator at arguably the perfect time. Over the same period, Allegri's men have taken 21 points.

The Bianconeri have rocketed into contention by finding consistency when, for the most part, the top three have wobbled, and if they continue their run, Juventus will be hard to ignore in the title race.

Juve, beware!

For all of their recent woes, Inter of course remain a dangerous opponent with a particularly threatening tail.

That's to say Inter do have a habit of finishing strong and not knowing when they're beaten.

In Serie A this season, Inter's 19 points won from losing positions is more than any other team, while they have scored 22 times in the final 30 minutes of games – that's a joint-high with Atalanta, Lazio and Hellas Verona.

Juve ought to heed such a warning – don't get complacent with a slender lead in the latter stages.
 

A tight affair?

While Inter are the league's top scorers with 62 goals, there's reason to suggest this won't be an unrelenting goalfest… *cue eight-goal thriller*.

These are two of the league's best three defences, while no team has kept more clean sheets than Juve's 13 this term.

 

On top of that, Juve have proven rather miserly when it comes to allowing goalscoring situations, with their average of 3.1 shots on target concede per 90 minutes being bettered only by Torino.

Inter aren't much worse in that respect, with their average at 3.6 – that's the sixth best in Serie A. Of course, a clinical display in that regard could still lead to plenty of goals, but clearly if there's any area both of these sides have excelled in domestically this term, it's defensively.

 

Simone Inzaghi acknowledged Inter's first-half performance against Fiorentina was "insufficient" as he revealed how the defending Serie A champions' stuttering form was weighing on them.

Inter have now won just twice in nine league matches after they were held 1-1 at home to Fiorentina on Saturday.

Lucas Torreira had the Nerazzurri staring at a potential third defeat in four league games at San Siro, before Denzel Dumfries nodded in an equaliser.

That was only enough to rescue a point, though, and Inter have now drawn five of their past nine matches – as many as in their previous 27 in the competition.

According to head coach Inzaghi, the damage was done before the break, when Fiorentina outshot their hosts 11-6.

"We didn't take the right approach," he told DAZN. "I'm not without fault and I'm the first to take responsibility for what happens.

"The guys did everything they could in the second half, but we weren't very good technically and we had to do better.

"The first half was insufficient, because a team like ours has to do more. In the second half, we did better and we created more chances after the goal."

 

The improvement in the second period was limited, given Fiorentina's six shots after the break were worth 1.2 expected goals to the 0.8 xG from Inter's seven attempts.

But Inzaghi suggested any issues in the closing stages were more due to the psychological impact of their poor recent results.

"It's normal that this is a bad moment of form for us," he said. "And after a while, the fact that we've taken just seven points from our last seven matches began to weigh on us.

"I am absolutely not afraid, but the team feels more responsibility.

"In November, December and early January, we were perfect; now, we're experiencing a decline, but we must try to remain calm and keep working."

Is Maurizio Sarri getting the most out of Lazio? To help answer that, we arguably have to look to his coaching predecessor - Simone Inzaghi.

After five seasons of trying under Inzaghi's stewardship, the Biancocelesti finally qualified for the Champions League. There were seasons where they came agonisingly close too - particularly in 2017-18, where Inter beat them at the Stadio Olimpico on the final day of the Serie A season, to claim fourth place and the final spot in Europe's premier competition.

When they finally did qualify, last season’s 6-2 defeat on aggregate to Bayern Munich in the last-16 – and Inzaghi’s ensuing departure for Inter – was microcosmic of an overall sense the 45-year-old extracted the maximum out of the players he had at his disposal, within his system.

With Sunday's Rome derby in mind, despite the fact Lazio are currently fifth and again perceivably in the running for that last Champions League place, that's the arguable framework for how we must interpret Sarri's first season in the Italian capital.

It's not only pertinent to ask whether the 63-year-old is extracting the maximum out of this Lazio squad within his own system. Ultimately, are the players Sarri has at his disposal even compatible to that system?

One of the stronger case studies in this discussion is Luis Alberto. The Spaniard is arguably not only one of Serie A's most transformative midfielders, but in European football.

Since joining Lazio in 2016, within the framework of Inzaghi’s 3-5-2, the 29-year-old blossomed into an elite ball progressor and shot creator from a statistical standpoint. He holds five of the 10 highest ratings for passes into the penalty area per 90 minutes in Lazio's history - since Stats Perform's first recordings of the data in 2005-06.

 

Just as important as Luis Alberto's ability to create with the ball is his ability to act as a positional reference point, in order to create for others without it. His ability to drive and distribute is underpinned by an intelligent and assertive positional sense, which also compliments the likes of Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic - and the latter’s particular penchant for late entry into the penalty area.

Yet along with cramping him of the half-space to move into when Lazio are in possession, Sarri's 4-3-3 setup asks more of the Spaniard defensively - exacerbating his notoriously suspect ground coverage. The more energetic Toma Basic's August transfer from Bordeaux and initial scope under the new coach, in Luis Alberto's place, was conspicuous in this respect.

This all matters because under Sarri, only Napoli have kept the ball more than them in Serie A this season. Lazio rank 12th in Europe's top-five leagues combined for touches per 90, but 60th for shots in the penalty area per 90. It would take a sizeable increase in shot quality upon previous years to make that disparity more sustainable, weighing up qualitative and quantitative aspects. That increase hasn't eventuated.

Lazio's ability to function in possession ultimately relies on Luis Alberto's skillset, and one statistic stands out - even this season, the team has averaged 9.27 shots in open play per 90 minutes with him on the pitch, and 5.97 without. In addition, his impact on Immobile is profound.

 

 

Immobile's xG per open play shot (0.14 on/0.2 off) actually increases when Luis Alberto is off the pitch, but his quantity of open-play shots also goes down (3.15 on/2.27 off). Meanwhile, playing in Sarri's 4-3-3 requires more from him as a collaborative player with his back to goal, a relatively weak area of his play that contributed to respective struggles at Sevilla, Borussia Dortmund and the Italian national team.

In Inzaghi's 3-5-2, Immobile wasn't cramped for space and could still receive the ball between the lines, but in positions where he's able to face goal and go at defenders with momentum. This season, the 32-year-old striker has completed (0.6) and attempted (1.38) fewer dribbles than in any of his six seasons at Lazio.

On top of that, despite this season being his second highest so far for touches per 90 (42.67), Immobile is also creating less chances in open play per 90 (0.78) than in any of his six seasons at the Olimpico. Six penalties for the season brings his higher xG but lower xA per 90 into context, exposing a question of net gain.

 

 

This all provides the backdrop for Lazio's sizeable xG overperformance this season. It is ultimately propelling their contention for a Champions League place and obscuring just how volatile they have been defensively – exposing Francesco Acerbi's ability to play in a four-man defence as opposed to a three-man defence.

So far this season in Serie A, Lazio have scored the second-highest amount of goals with 58 and rank eighth for xG with 42.1, but aside from Hellas Verona (14.3), are a distant first (15.9) in differential between the two statistical categories.

With this all in context, the reality that Sarri will remain faithful to this 4-3-3 will arguably be to the detriment of Lazio's most important players under Inzaghi. Whether they stay or go, as long as Sarri stays, will determine how dramatic the eventual regression to the mean will be.

Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi believes his side's performances have deserved more than their recent returns.

Reigning Serie A champions Inter have slipped to third in the table, albeit with a game in hand, four points adrift of leaders Milan heading into the weekend's fixtures.

Inter have managed just two wins in their last eight top-flight games after snatching a late 1-1 draw at Torino last time out.

The Nerazzurri were also eliminated at the Champions League last-16 stage following a 2-1 loss on aggregate to Liverpool, with Inter dominating large parts of the two-leg tie.

Inzaghi claimed the Nerazzurri's performances have not been befitting of their results ahead of Saturday's clash with Fiorentina.

"Without a doubt, there is a feeling in this period of having collected less than what we probably deserved," he told InterTV on Friday.

"But there is the right desire, the boys have worked very well, so there is a great desire to get back on the pitch."

 

With Inter out of the Champions League, Inzaghi's side now have more time to prepare for the crunch part of the Serie A season and the Nerazzurri boss is thankful for the extra days of preparation.

"Certainly being able to work more days to prepare for the match helps a lot to work on situations that did not go well and on details," he continued.

"But we are Inter. We have made progress in the Champions League, we are still in the running for the Coppa Italia. We have played more often because we have been competitive throughout the year."

Fellow Serie A title-chasers Milan and Napoli are in action on the same day when Inter host Fiorentina, who have lost 16 of their last 19 league games against the Nerazzurri.

Inter have also gained 32 points from 14 top-flight home games, more than any other team, but Inzaghi expects a tough task against's Vincenzo Italiano's men.

"We find a fit team, which is doing excellent in the league, with a coach who gives brilliant ideas and precise tactical ideas to his team," Inzaghi added.

Simone Inzaghi believes his Inter side face '10 finals' if they hope to defend their Serie A title after they stumbled to a 1-1 draw with Torino on Sunday.

The Nerazzurri dodged defeat in Turin thanks to an injury-time equaliser from Alexis Sanchez, but nevertheless suffered another setback in their efforts to retain the Scudetto.

Though the remaining matches for all concerned remain in double-figures, Inter sit four points off leaders Milan and are mired in the midst of a tight battle with Napoli, while Juventus are closing in on the top three as well.

Speaking after the final whistle, former Lazio boss Inzaghi said his team need to approach their run-in with a knockout mentality, calling for them to change their mindset going forward.

"I am disappointed with the approach to the game," he told DAZN. "If we want to win the Scudetto, we need to have a different attitude.

"Recently, we have played a lot and lost our energy, but this must not be an alibi. We have 10 finals, plus the Coppa Italia, and we cannot go wrong."

Inzaghi further felt his side should have found an equaliser to Gleison Bremer's opener long before the final seconds.

"In the first half, we suffered from their aggression, even though they scored only on a corner, while we had two clear chances," he stated.

"In the second, we entered the field with a different spirit and we could have straightened it before the 90 minutes were up."

Inter will hope to sign off before the final international break of the season on a winning note when they play Fiorentina next weekend at San Siro.

Simone Inzaghi has "great regrets" following Inter's 2-1 aggregate defeat to Liverpool, but stands by his decision to not substitute Alexis Sanchez prior to the forward's sending off.

Inter trailed 2-0 heading into the Champions League last-16 second leg and were fortunate not to be further behind as Joel Matip and Mohamed Salah hit the frame of the goal.

However, Lautaro Martinez's superb 20-yard strike with just over an hour played changed the mood around Anfield and gave Inter serious hope of salvaging extra time.

Inter's prospects of staying in the competition were badly dented 107 seconds later, though, as Sanchez received a second yellow card for following through on Fabinho.

Former Arsenal and Manchester United forward Sanchez had been yellow carded late in the first half for a similar lunge on Thiago Alcantara.

Inter, who conceded late on to Roberto Firmino and Salah in the first leg, offered little attacking threat with 10 men and were lucky not to concede when Salah again hit the post.

Inzaghi is known for substituting players when they are at risk of being dismissed, but he did not feel the need to bring off Sanchez in what was an at times bad-tempered game.

"Absolutely not," he told Sky Sport Italia after his side's 1-0 win on the night.

"In general I am very careful, but at that moment I needed Sanchez on the field. I was not going to change him on an evening like this."

 

Sanchez is the first Inter player to see red in the knockout stages of the Champions League since Cristian Chivu against Schalke in 2011.

Inter boss Inzaghi did not comment on whether he felt the red card was harsh as he did not see the second foul, though he felt his side deserved more over the two legs.

“We feel upset about the fact we had a player sent off just when we were getting the upper hand in the game," he said of Sanchez's first dismissal in 64 games in the competition.

"There are certainly great regrets for us as we wanted to reach the last 16.

"But we were up against Liverpool, who along with Manchester City and Bayern Munich are the best team in Europe right now, and we fought them on an even keel.

"We are probably paying the price for the final 15 minutes of the first leg, because I think we had two very good games against an excellent opponent.

"I think the first 75 minutes saw us deserve far more, then we conceded on a corner, which wasn't even a good one, and the second goal really knocked us down.

"During our best period of the game and the worst for them, Alexis Sanchez was sent off, and that was bad timing.

"Over the two legs we showed we are equal to a really strong Liverpool team. We played well and I am more bitter about the game at San Siro than what happened in this game."

 

Martinez's goal was his first in the Champions League in 11 appearances since netting against Real Madrid in November 2020.

It proved to be nothing more than a consolation over the two legs, though it did earn the Italian champions a first win against Liverpool home or away since the 1964-65 season.

But at the end of 180 minutes, Martinez was left to rue Sanchez's red card at a pivotal moment in the game.

"We did what we wanted to by showing character," he said. "It was a pity to then go down to 10 men because these are the details that make the difference.

"All we can do now is look forward. We are out of the Champions League but still have the Coppa Italia and Serie A. We must learn from these mistakes."

Inter boss Simone Inzaghi has stressed the importance of a fast start for his team when they face Liverpool in the second leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie, saying it is "essential" they score in the first half at Anfield.

The Premier League side take a 2-0 lead into Tuesday's game after goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah settled a tight encounter at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in the first leg.

Only one team in Champions League history has lost the first leg of a knockout stage tie by two or more goals at home and still gone on to progress, with Manchester United doing so against Paris Saint-Germain in the 2018-19 last 16 (0-2 at home, 3-1 away).

However, speaking at a media conference on Monday ahead of the game, Inzaghi said his team were "unlucky" in the previous game and backed them to respond.

"We were unlucky [in the first leg]. I think the result was harsh," he said. "We played a great game and deserved more.

"This is a hard match. We will face a great team, but we have confidence. We are full of motivation."

 

He was also reminded of last season's campaign when he was still in charge at Lazio and lost the first leg at the same stage of the Champions League 4-1 at home to Bayern Munich, eventually losing 6-2 on aggregate to the Bundesliga giants.

When asked his thoughts on how to approach this game, Inzaghi added: "I think we are not in pole position. We know we need to score early. A goal in the first half is essential.

"We know the challenge we face. Liverpool are one of the best teams around along with Bayern Munich and Manchester City. Anfield is a great stadium. It is great to be a part of this occasion. The first leg was spectacular, but we know this will be a tougher game."

Inter defender Alessandro Bastoni also gave his thoughts ahead of the clash on Merseyside, and was asked if the front three of Jurgen Klopp's team is the strongest he has faced.

"The trio of Liverpool? I have faced many top strikers," the Italy international said. "I have faced the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, [Karim] Benzema, Vincius [Junior]. They have some top forwards such as Salah, [Sadio] Mane, Diogo [Jota].

"We need to play as a team. This is an important experience for us... We will learn and grow from this."

Inter boss Simone Inzaghi blamed fatigue levels for his team's limp performance against Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-finals, admitting the Nerazzurri are still "licking their wounds" after losing to their rivals in Serie A last month.

Inzaghi's men managed just seven shots at goal and created a disappointing 0.30 expected goals in the 0-0 first-leg stalemate, extending their winless run to five matches in all competitions.

That is their longest such streak since a sequence of 10 without winning in February 2018, and has also seen the reigning champions surrender top spot in Serie A to Napoli.

Inter have also failed to win any of the three Milan derbies played this season, going down to an Olivier Giroud double in league action just last month, and Inzaghi believes their previous loss to the Rossoneri, as well as their recent physical exertions, have taken a heavy toll.

"I think the draw was the right result," Inzaghi told Mediaset. "We are still licking our wounds after losing the Serie A derby 2-1, that looked completely different until the 75th minute [Inter led for the majority of that contest].

"I think this derby was less spectacular compared to the other two, as there was a lot at stake. The two teams were anxious and looking at the 180 minutes.

"We want to reach the Final and win another trophy [but] knowing this was our 36th game of the season, we need to regain sharpness, but we are working on it.

"We're playing a lot. Apart from one error we made playing out from the back and a Handanovic save, I don't remember other Milan chances."

Simone Inzaghi believed Inter deserved more against Genoa after his side missed the chance to go level with Milan at the top of Serie A.

Inter were given the chance to reel in the Rossoneri after Milan were held to a 1-1 draw at San Siro by Udinese earlier on Friday.

Yet the Nerazzurri were unable to take that opportunity, left to settle for a goalless draw at Stadio Luigi Ferraris despite finishing the game with 21 shots to Genoa's seven.

Danilo D'Ambrosio hit the crossbar with the best chance for Inter, who have now won just once in their last six matches across all competitions, while they have collected only two points from their last four league games.

"Naturally, the result leaves a bitter taste in the mouth," Inzaghi told Sky Sport Italia afterwards.

"We knew that we could've had a better approach, that Genoa are in good shape and created problems for us in the opening 20 minutes, but after that we certainly deserved more.

"Just like last week with Sassuolo, we had 20 shots on goal and didn't score. Evidently, we need to work better, it's just one of those periods, but we mustn't let our heads drop. I saw the right performance and we need to get back to winning ways.

"Genoa were not easy to break down, but we got into their penalty area 37 times, had 20 shots, hit the crossbar, there were other chances too that could easily have gone in.

"Evidently, what we are doing right now isn't enough to win games, we need to do more.

"None of the top six won last week, there is some fatigue for everyone at this stage of the season and it is a bit odd. Perhaps we should've run and worked smarter and not just harder.

"Genoa were pressing hard, the pitch was not in good condition. At the start of the season, we'd score at least one every five corners, today we had 14 corners to zero and didn't find the net. It's just one of those periods where it's not going in.

"We know that games are decided by incidents and we are not fortunate at the moment. It's disappointing for the fans, who supported us from the first to the 90th minute, but I feel they are proud of what we're doing this season.

"We already have the Supercoppa, we're in the Scudetto race, in the Champions League Round of 16 and the Coppa Italia semi-final."

Simone Inzaghi was left "very angry" with Inter's approach in their 2-0 defeat against Sassuolo and warned his side to buck up their ideas if they want to retain the Serie A title.

Early goals from Giacomo Raspadori and Gianluca Scamacca made it a third straight league game without a win for the Nerazzurri, who also lost the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie to Liverpool in midweek.

Inter consequently failed to reach the summit of the table despite leaders Milan being held by Salernitana on Saturday, though only three points separate the top three in the table. Inter sit two points adrift of Milan, with Napoli in third.

Sassuolo have now clocked up away wins against both Milan sides and Juventus this term, with head coach Inzaghi left frustrated by his team's poor application.

"I am very angry with the approach, because we had three days since Wednesday's game. We talked about the fact Sassuolo beat Juve and Milan away, they play great football and we had to be wary," Inzaghi said.

"We tried to do everything in the second half, created so many chances and were unlucky, but the fact remains we should have had a different approach.

"Sassuolo had great technical quality, they were fresher physically and it showed.

"We will analyse the situation, we know there are 13 games to go, we are all up there and want to keep going forward.

"The fact is a team that wants to win the Scudetto cannot get the approach as wrong as we did today."

Lautaro Martinez drew a blank for a seventh straight game, while Opta data shows that since the resumption of the league after the mid-season break Inter have recorded 100 shots (36 on target) but managed only six goals.

They remain the top scorers in Serie A, though, and Inzaghi is sure his side will soon start finding the net with more regularity.

"I don't think there is anxiety, the great champions are accustomed to these games. I think there was a lack of sharpness, there was some fatigue, both physical and mental," Inzaghi added.

"My staff and I tried to focus the players this week, but we conceded two early goals that we usually don't allow.

"We remain the most prolific side in Serie A this season and will get back to scoring goals soon. When you are a striker and don't score, you just have to stay calm, the goal will come."

Matteo Darmian and Roberto Gagliardini were hauled off at half-time for Denzel Dumfries and Edin Dzeko, and Inzaghi would have liked to have made more alterations.

"I would have happily changed more than two at half-time," he said. "We lost some of our organisation, we tried to open it up again, but we have to analyse what went wrong today.

"There's another match in [five] days [against Genoa], we know that we play continually and need to be stronger than absences, bans, injuries, setbacks, everything.

"We're all in there and will see what happens at the end of the season."

Inter missed the opportunity to move top of Serie A as they fell to a 2-0 defeat to Sassuolo on Sunday.

Giacomo Raspadori struck after eight minutes at San Siro, with Gianluca Scamacca adding a second in the first half.

Simone Inzaghi's side dominated possession throughout but were unable to breach Alessio Dionisi's defence, leaving the Nerazzurri with just one win from their last five games across all competitions.
 
Leaders Milan were held by Salernitana on Saturday, but Inter – who have played a game fewer – failed to grasp the opportunity to move a point clear at the summit.

Hamed Traore skewed the first presentable chance of the contest off target before Raspadori squirmed a finish from inside the area under Samir Handanovic to open the scoring in the eighth minute.

Hakan Calhanoglu responded by firing just wide from range, but Sassuolo doubled their lead shortly after when Scamacca headed Traore's cross home with the help of the post. 

Smart Andrea Consigli stops from Milan Skriniar and Roberto Gagliardini maintained the visitors' advantage, while Domenico Berardi curled onto the crossbar in a frantic first half.

Inzaghi made two changes at the break, with substitute Edin Dzeko almost having an immediate impact.

Dzeko was thwarted from close range by a fine double stop by Consigli, before Lautaro Martinez inexplicably poked wide of an open goal.

Skriniar was then required to clear Raspadori's chip off the line and Berardi angled just wide of the far post with another sumptuous curling strike.

Inter (17) have gained the most points from trailing situations in the Italian top flight this season, and Stefan de Vrij thought he had sparked another late comeback only for his header to be ruled out by VAR for a Federico Dimarco handball.

 

What does it mean? Inter slip up in pursuit of Scudetto

After seeing Milan held, Inzaghi's side knew a win would take them top – a point clear of Stefano Pioli's team and four clear of third-placed Napoli.

However, after the Nerazzurri's six-game unbeaten league run against Sassuolo ended, Inter remain two behind Milan and just one clear of Luciano Spalletti's men as the race for the Scudetto continues to twist and turn.

Dionisi's side had won just one of their last eight league games, but victory on the road saw them climb above Empoli and into 11th.

Brilliant Berardi

Berardi may feel unfortunate he did not get on the scoresheet in the opening 45 minutes after sending a glorious left-footed strike against the crossbar from just outside the area.

However, the Sassuolo captain did assist Raspadori's opener, which made him the first player across Europe's top-five leagues to register double figures for both goals and assists this season.

Missing Martinez

Martinez has scored four goals against Sassuolo in the competition – only registering more against Cagliari – but the striker struggled here as he fired another blank.

The Argentina international missed a glorious second-half chance and has now not found the net in seven league appearances, his joint-longest run in Serie A (also seven matches in August 2019). 

What's next?

Inter visit Genoa on Friday, while Sassuolo host Fiorentina the next day.

Simone Inzaghi joked he was relieved Inter did not have to face Liverpool in every match after they suffered a late 2-0 loss in their Champions League encounter. 

The last-16 first leg at San Siro looked destined for a 0-0 draw but Roberto Firmino glanced home a header – the first effort on target of the match – in the 75th minute to put Liverpool in front. 

Mohamed Salah then marked his 50th Champions League appearance for the club with his 33rd goal for the Reds in the competition – only Cristiano Ronaldo (51 for Real Madrid) and Robert Lewandowski (36 for Bayern Munich) had managed more at the same point for a single team. 

Inter performed well until Firmino broke the deadlock. They looked more threatening and hit the crossbar through Hakan Calhanoglu in the first half. 

However, they were unable to stop Jurgen Klopp becoming just the eight coach to reach 50 wins in the Champions League, with Inzaghi pleased they do not have to lock horns too often. 

"We hope not to face Liverpool every game," Inzaghi told Amazon Prime. 

"I am happy and proud of the team. Unfortunately, during our best period of the game, we were not rewarded with the goal we deserved, then Liverpool scored at the first half-distraction we had. 

"We certainly deserved more, but this performance has to bode well for what is to come in the future. Liverpool are one of the two best teams in Europe in my view. We held out well and deserved more. 

"We know these evenings can be like this, but it has to give us a self-esteem boost because it was an excellent performance. 

"It's difficult to comment after a result like this, but it has to be a starting point for Inter at this level. I think this is the strongest opponent we've faced this season." 

Edin Dzeko, who had a goal correctly ruled out for offside in the 60th minute, also felt there were positives for Inter to take ahead of the second leg at Anfield on March 8. 

"We did well for 75 minutes, giving away very little to Liverpool. It's a shame to concede from a corner, where we are usually strong. But this is what happens with great teams; if you don't score, they'll punish you," said Dzeko. 

"Everyone gave their all for 90 minutes, but it wasn't enough. We come out of this defeat with our heads held high because we know we have given everything. 

"It's not a positive result for us, but first we have to focus on Serie A and then we'll see." 

Liverpool must be considered favourites for the Champions League last-16 tie with Inter, but the Nerazzurri deserve to be back in the latter stages of the competition, according to Simone Inzaghi.

Inter finished second behind Real Madrid in Group D, progressing to the last 16 of the competition for the first time since 2011-12.

This will be the fifth meeting between Inter and Liverpool. Each of the previous four have been in the knockout stages of the European Cup/Champions League, with the Serie A side progressing over two legs in the 1964-65 semi-finals – a year in which they went on to lift the trophy – and the Reds emerging from the last 16 in 2007-08.

Inzaghi knows his team cannot be considered favourites, given the strength of Liverpool, yet he wants his team to play with freedom on their return to the knockout stages.

He told a news conference: "Liverpool are one of the best teams in Europe, but our players deserve to play these kinds of games.

"We haven't played in the round of 16 for many years and although it will be very difficult, we'll try to make it.

"On paper, Liverpool are the favourite, but the games must be played. I'll ask the lads to go on the pitch and play our football with a free mind, showing our ideas. Determination will make the difference.

"The first step was to reach the round of 16. We'll face a top club with strong players, but all games start from 0-0. In some games, you must take care of every detail.

"We watched Liverpool's matches, the ones against Milan and the most recent ones.

"They have a deep squad, a great coach, they are intense, so we need to do well every time, both when we have the ball and when we defend."

Inter head into the clash having lost their grip on top spot in Serie A following a derby defeat to Milan and a 1-1 draw with their other title rivals, Napoli.

"I am not satisfied with the results, I didn't expect them," the former Lazio coach added.

"But I think we played two great games against two great teams who, along with Juventus, will be title challengers."

Inter have been eliminated from two of their previous three two-legged knockout ties against English opponents. All three of these have been at the round-of-16 stage, losing out to Liverpool in 2007-08 and Manchester United in 2008-09, before eliminating Chelsea a year later en route to winning the Champions League under Jose Mourinho.

They have, however, won their past two home games in the Champions League, one more than they had managed in their previous nine between November 2018 and September 2021 (D5 L3). The last time they recorded three consecutive home wins in the competition was between December 2009 and November 2010.

Inter assistant Massimiliano Farris praised his team's mentality and fitness levels after they came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw at title rivals Napoli.

Nerazzurri coach Simone Inzaghi served a touchline ban in Naples after both he and defender Alessandro Bastoni were shown red cards in the aftermath of the defending champions' 2-1 derby defeat to Milan last week.

Lorenzo Insigne's first-half penalty gave Napoli a deserved half-time lead and left Inter staring at consecutive defeats to their main Scudetto rivals, but Edin Dzeko's equalising goal ensured the visitors escaped Naples with a point.

And Farris was pleased with how they responded to going behind.

"The second-half performance says a great deal about the quality of this squad," he told DAZN in the aftermath of the stalemate.

"We had some regrets at half-time, but in the second half [we] showed a great reaction and mental strength in a fiery atmosphere. 

"We smothered Napoli’s enthusiasm and we could've won it at the end, but we're content with a point here."

Inter managed just three shots worth a mere 0.17 combined expected goals before the break, but an improved second half display ensured the Nerazzurri earned a valuable draw, and they have now won 17 points from losing positions in Serie A this season, more than any other team in the division.

Farris, who accompanied Inzaghi during his five-year stint as Lazio boss before joining him at San Siro, put Inter's ability to rescue points from difficult situations down to their fitness levels.

"Napoli changed tactics to a [back] five and that was a sign of them backing off, [but] we still had fuel in the tank, despite coming off the derby and a Coppa Italia match, whereas Napoli had all week to prepare for this game," he said.

"The team was controlling the situation well [in the second half]. It's all a positive sign."

Despite seeing their 440-minute stretch without conceding an away goal in Serie A come to an end, Inter maintained their one-point lead over Luciano Spalletti's Napoli at the Serie A summit with the draw, although cross-city rivals Milan could leapfrog the Nerazzurri by beating Sampdoria on Sunday.

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