Inter Milan vs. Atalanta preview: Injury-hit Inter need a victory to stay in Champions League contention

Marco Luzzani

For Inter, a victory is the only option if they wish to stay in the race for Champions League qualification as they remain seven points behind third-placed Milan whilst Atalanta are eight points clear of relegation, a victory would not go amiss to ensure their safety.

Inter strolled to a 2-0 win over Sampdoria in Wednesday's rescheduled fixture, after the original clash was postponed due to snow. The scorer of both goals? Rodrigo Palacio. Unfortunately, the following day Palacio succumbed to a thigh strain and will now be out for up to a month, joining Inter's impressively long injury list alongside fellow Argentine goal machine Diego Milito. This leaves a conundrum for Andrea Stramaccioni as he now only has Antonio Cassano, who is far from an out-and-out goalscorer, and Tommaso Rocchi, who has not scored in Serie A for 14 months, as his two senior strikers.

Stramaccioni has been forced to call on the Primavera, calling 19-year-old Francesco Forte and 18-year-old Matteo Colombi into his matchday squad from the youth team although I would not expect to see either in the starting line-up. In more positive news, Yuto Nagatomo has made the squad although it remains to be seen whether he will play a role following his knee injury.

Atalanta's last match was also against Sampdoria, a 0-0 draw last Saturday. Prior to that, they lost 3-2 at Napoli, ending a run of two consecutive victories that have kept them eight points clear of relegation. They do still need to be careful however, with tough matches against Inter and Fiorentina followed by a potential crunch tie with Genoa, who lie one place and seven points below them. If Genoa and Siena manage to put points on the board, Atalanta risk being dragged back into a relegation scrap and so picking up anything here and against the Viola will be preferable for the men from Bergamo. The encounter does promise to be an emotional one for Atalanta following the sad death of former president Ivan Ruggeri, following five years in a coma after a brain haemorrhage. His son Alessandro took over the reins and still runs the club and all players will wear black armbands to mark his passing.

Both Inter and Atalanta have injuries piling up, Inter with five absentees and a suspension to contend with whilst Atalanta have four injuries and two suspensions, with a host of others doubtful to take part on both sides. It's the time of year when the injuries really begin to pile up after a long season and the sides that qualify for Europe or avoid relegation are generally the ones with the fittest squads.

Inter Milan injuries and suspensions:

Out: Rodrigo Palacio, Diego Milito, Joel Obi, Gaby Mudingayi, Luca Castellazzi (injured); Walter Gargano (suspended). In doubt: Cristian Chivu, Dejan Stankovic, Yuto Nagatomo

Atalanta injuries and suspensions:

Out: Maxi Moralez, Igor Budan, Gianpaolo Bellini, Guido Marilungo (injured); Stefano Lucchini, Andrea Consigli (suspended). In doubt: Cristiano Del Grosso, James Troisi, Daniele Capelli

Match date/time: Sunday 7th April 2013, 20:45 local, 12:45 E.T.

Venue: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan

TV: Sky Calcio 1, Premium Calcio (Italy)

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