Inter look to bounce back
Two weeks ago, Inter Milan were on top of Serie A and hadn't lost a match all season. Now, they are seemingly in freefall and have lost three straight matches in all competitions.
Inter's latest defeat came in the Italian Cup at struggling city rivals AC Milan on Wednesday, and they will need to swiftly pick themselves up if they are to get a result against title rivals Lazio today.
"It is a painful defeat and also maybe unexpected, because we cared a lot about this Italian Cup," Inter midfielder Antonio Candreva said after the 1-0 loss. "We were coming from two successive defeats, and we must start again with confidence."
Inter moved top of Serie A with a credible 0-0 draw at Juventus on December 9. However, that was mainly down to the performance of goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, and their struggles in front of goal have continued.
Three days later, Inter needed penalties to get past third-division Pordenone after a goalless draw. That was followed by league losses to Udinese (3-1) and Sassuolo (1-0) before the Cup defeat to Milan, which played with third-choice goalkeeper Antonio Donnarumma.
Inter forward Ivan Perisic has not scored since netting a hat- trick in the 5-0 victory over Chievo at the beginning of the month, while captain Mauro Icardi who remains the league's leading goal scorer has only found the back of the net once since that match.
Inter have slipped to third in Serie A, five points behind leaders Napoli and four behind Juventus. The two teams immediately below them, Roma and Lazio, have played one less match.
Lazio would move a point behind Inter with victory at San Siro.
"It's a moment in which we have lost confidence, we have less courage, and we are less convinced of our qualities," Inter coach Luciano Spalletti said. "The players are doing well from a physical point of view and we are not lacking in quality, but we shouldn't wait for our problems to be resolved by someone else. We have to resolve things by ourselves."