A new Serie A season is about to get underway, and there’s a new reigning champ in town.
Inter blew the rest of the competition away last year, with coach Antonio Conte assembling a deadly winning machine. Wing-back Achraf Hakimi was supplying the ammunition for his forwards, and Romelu Lukaku was detonating bombs all over Italy.
Unfortunately for the Nerazzurri, not even one of that influential trio remains in Milano. It’s been a summer of change for the champions, with Simone Inzaghi stepping in to fill Conte’s shoes, as well as a couple of underwhelming signings rocking up at San Siro.
So, how will Inter line up at the start of this new era, when they take on Genoa in Saturday’s opening match of the season?
Samir Handanovic (GK) – The years tick by, but Handanovic remains an ever-present in Serie A. He bagged the league title his career deserves last season, and at 37 years of age, he’ll be hoping for at least one more.
Milan Skriniar (CB) – Not a summer goes by where Skriniar is not tipped for a move to the Premier League (normally to Tottenham Hotspur), but Inter have managed to hold onto their centre-back for another year.
Stefan de Vrij (CB) – Arguably the Nerazzurri’s key defender last season, and having worked with Inzaghi at Lazio in the past, De Vrij will be a firm favourite for the coach.
Alessandro Bastoni (CB) – It was a season to remember for Bastoni last year, and all eyes will be on whether he can maintain those levels for another campaign – starting with Genoa on Saturday.
Matteo Darmian (RWB) – Supporters may be hoping to see new signing Denzel Dumfries in action, but given he only arrived in the past few days, Darmian will probably get the nod.
Nicolo Barella (CM) – A star for Italy at Euro 2020, Barella’s stock has only risen over the summer. He was a standout figure in Inter’s title success last year, and more of the same will be needed if they are to compete again.
Marcelo Brozovic (CM) – A certainty to start at the base of the midfield, as very few players can perform the job he does for Inter. Composed on the ball, and an excellent reader of the game.
Stefano Sensi (CM) – The young Italian didn’t play a major role last season, but with Christian Eriksen unavailable and Arturo Vidal ageing another year, this could be his time to shine.
Ivan Perisic (LWB) – One of Conte’s greatest achievements was converting Perisic into a complete wing-back, and his adaptability solved a huge problem within the squad. No change this year.
Hakan Calhanoglu (CF) – Lautaro Martinez’s suspension and Lukaku’s departure leaves Inter desperately short in attack, so Inzaghi may choose to deploy Calhanoglu just behind the main striker on his debut.
Edin Dzeko (ST) – Another new signing will lead the forward line, too. Dzeko had already taken to the pitch in blue and black before completing his move to Inter, and he’ll be ready to fill Lukaku’s boots from the opening weekend.