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Five Matches That Could Define Inter’s Season

Having finally secured a return to the Champions League, Inter head into 2018-19 looking to consolidate and build.

The Nerazzurri moved quickly in the transfer market, signing Stefan de Vrij and Kwadwo Asamoah on free transfers, as well as promising Argentine striker Lautaro Martinez.

Arguably the biggest signing of the summer so far though is Radja Nainggolan, a favourite of Coach Luciano Spalletti who has been one of Serie A’s best midfielders in recent years.

The public declarations are all about cementing that top four place, but some fans dare to whisper of the Scudetto.

Here are the five matches that could define whether Inter are battling for the Scudetto or a place in the Champions League next season.

Inter vs Sassuolo – Week 1
On paper Inter have a relatively easy start, which means two things for Luciano Spalletti’s side.

The first is that they have the chance to lay down a marker earlier in the season, the second is that the pressure is on to put points on the board in the opening fixtures.

Sassuolo await on the opening weekend, and the Neroverdi have been something of a bogey team in recent years.

If Spalletti’s side can get over this opening day hurdle, subsequent fixtures against Torino, Bologna and Parma could build some real momentum.

Sampdoria vs Inter – Week 5
Arguably the first real test comes five games into the season, when the Nerazzurri take on Sampdoria at Marassi.

While Samp tailed off badly last season they were impeccable at home, and this won’t be an easy game.

Inter vs Milan – Week 9
Derby day in Milan is always something special, and Inter will be desperate to establish early bragging rights.

The first Derby della Madonnina of the season comes just days before the third Champions League group game, which could be an issue for a squad which went through all of last season with no European commitments.

The aforementioned signings have added depth, but this is where the going really starts to get tough.

Inter vs Juventus – Week 35
Given the way the Serie A fixtures are drawn, and easy start to the season means a gruelling finish.

Avoiding Juventus, Napoli and Roma in the first 13 fixtures means facing all three in the final six.

A small blessing for the Beneamata is that Roma in Week 34 and Juventus in Week 35 are both home fixtures, but these aren’t the games you’d choose as the season reaches its zenith.

Juve visit San Siro on the weekend of April 28, days before the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals.

Napoli vs Inter – Week 37
This could be a real blockbuster, as the Nerazzurri travel south to Campania for the penultimate game of the season.

Both teams will be aiming to challenge for the Scudetto, with a place in the top four as the minimum requirement.

There are few more daunting places to go than a packed-out Stadio San Paolo, so if there’s something on the line in early May this could be unmissable.