English Premier League
Inter Milan will begin its Serie A title defense this weekend when they play host to Genoa. The betting odds are as lopsided as one might expect for a defending champion playing its season opener. At home, Inter is favored with a -269 moneyline while Genoa’s moneyline is listed at +900. There is also a +408 moneyline if the match ends in a draw.
Obviously, expectations will be high for Inter Milan after winning an Italian title last season. But the Black and Blues still aren’t considered the class of Serie A, as that title still goes to Juventus. Inter Milan will have to prove itself all over again. On top of that, things will also be a little different with Simone Inzaghi taking over as the new manager.
The Inter attack will look a lot different this season than it did a year ago. For starters, Romelu Lukaku has left to go back to Chelsea after scoring 24 goals in Serie A action last season. Lautaro Martinez is also questionable with rampant rumors about him leaving the club as well. Achraf Hakimi, who scored seven goals in Serie A last year was also sold during the summer. The hope is that the addition of Edin Dzeko and Denzel Dumfries can help fill the void while Inter has no shortage of other capable attacking players. But Dzeko is getting to be a little old to be the main striker on a top-tier team, so if Martinez isn’t able to play or isn’t in the right mindset, there will be questions about Inter’s attack.
The good news is that Inter Milan can almost always rely on its defense. the Black and Blues allowed just 35 goals in 38 Serie A matches last season, giving them the best defensive record in the league. While there was a lot of turnover for the squad’s attacking players, Inter’s best defensive players have stuck around. Key center backs like Milan Skriniar and Stefan de Vrij remain with the club, along with goalie Samir Handanović, so there’s every chance Inter will have a strong defensive team from the start of the season.
Genoa has been a consistent mid-table team in Serie A, so taking on Inter Milan to begin the season is far from ideal. The Red and Blues finished 11th last season, comfortably far from the relegation zone but 20 points away from a European spot. Needless to say, they will try to improve upon that this season, although Genoa didn’t do a ton of business over the summer to improve the squad.
The club will bring back Mattia Destro, who led Genoa with 11 goals in Serie A play last season. However, one of the few players to be sold over the summer was Eldor Shomurodov, an Uzbeki forward who tied for the second-most goals on the team last year. The hope is that Ghana international Caleb Ekuban can make an immediate impact and add to the list of Genoa’s talismen. But the team is still lacking a proven playmaker, as nobody on the team had more than four assists last season.
On the defensive side of the ball, Genoa was also middle of the pack last season, giving up 58 goals in 38 matches, leaving them with a -11 goal differential. Veterans Domenico Criscito and Andrea Masiello are still around to give the Genoa backline a strong veteran presence. However, with that experience comes a lack of mobility and athleticism, which could be an issue against some of Inter’s attacking players. There is also some uncertainty at goalie with Mattia Perin back at Juventus after being Genoa’s top-choice keeper while on loan last season.
Inter Milan is by no means in a good spot heading into the start of the season after losing Lukaku and Martinez perhaps leaving as well. But the Black and Blues still have a strong defensive team and at least a few match-winners in the attacking third. That’s more than Genoa can say after lackluster performances at both ends of the pitch last season. Even if it’s not a perfect performance, look for Inter Milan to take care of business in the season opener.
Pick: Inter Milan 3-1