Leonardo will face his first Cup game test in this Round of 16 tie as the Nerazzurri aim to carry on fostering hopes of another treble...
Maintaining The Momentum
Heading into the new year Inter were a disaster. The Italian and European champions may have won the Club Word Cup but the dismissal of Rafael Benitez as coach and the introduction of Leonardo, who has just one season of top-flight football management experience, did invite a large cloud of doubt over the Nerazzurri’s ambitions this campaign.
But two wins in two matches under the 41-year-old Brazilian have refurbished the Beneamata and have made them re-adopt hope again. Perhaps it would be pre-mature to suggest that Inter are back in the Scudetto race or have resurrected themselves, but the comprehensive victory over Napoli at San Siro and then the hard-fought win against Catania who had lost just one home game all season prior to Sunday's defeat does exhibit the rediscovery of confidence of the players.
Inter will start today's match as favourites against Genoa and playing at home will give them an added advantage. The Nerazzurri have a formidable record at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza and a victory over a side who have not won for over a month is expected.
Leonardo, though, is not eager to shake hands with the demon of complacency and says, "Right now, after two victories, the team is growing. We can expect an important match tomorrow. Also because every time you are down on the field you have the opportunity to send signals and teach the team. This is why we treat every game in the same way."
Welcoming Cup Distraction
Davide Ballardini doesn’t have to fear for his job at Genoa as he was enthroned just a few weeks ago but Genoa's ambitions for a top-six finish in Serie A look largely over. With 23 points from 18 matches in the league, the Grifoni are eight points off a Europa League slot.
Tonight's Coppa Italia tie will come as much as a welcoming distraction as a cause to lift themselves, although the trip to Milan to take on an in-form Inter side buoyant by back-to-back league victories this new year under Leonardo doesn't promise to be easy.
Genoa last won in the first week of December when they defeated Lecce 3-1 away. Since then they have lost one and drawn two of their games, failing to score in any of these encounters.
So far in the Coppa Italia Genoa have confronted lower league opposition, winning 2-1 against Grosseto in the third round and 3-1 against Vicenza in the fourth round, both times playing at home.
Leonardo has called up 21 players for tonight’s match against Genoa. Julio Cesar once again misses out because of injury and so does Sneijder. Thiago Motta is unavailable as well. Eto’o and Milito are expected to line up in attack.
The Grifoni will travel to Milan with 20 players. In a 4-4-2 line-up, Rudolf and Sculli are expected to be the two forwards.