Inter vs Roma predictions: Lukaku can lead Inter to victory
Romelu Lukaku is set to return for Inter Milan when former Nerazzurri boss Jose Mourinho brings his Roma side to the San Siro for the game of the weekend in Serie A on Saturday evening.
Lukaku played under Mourinho twice, but never felt as loved at Chelsea or Manchester United as he did during his first spell at Inter, which saw him produce some spectacular performances.
The striker's second coming in Milan has been interrupted by injury but his presence could alleviate some of the pressure on Lautaro Martinez, who provided three goals and an assist in Inter's first four league games, but has since cooled off.
Both teams were defeated prior to the international break, but while Simone Inzaghi's side got what they deserved in a 3-1 loss at Udinese, Mourinho chose to blame the referee rather than his own team's wasteful finishing after a 1-0 home reverse to Atalanta.
The Portuguese tactician was sent to the stands for his complaints and subsequently banned, so will not be on the sidelines this Saturday.
Inter coach Inzaghi will be forced into at least one change as all-important midfielder Marcelo Brozovic is serving a one-match ban this weekend following an accumulation of yellow cards.
Kristjan Asllani is in line to make his first Serie A start for the club alongside Nicolo Barella in the middle of the park with the third — attacking midfielder — role up for grabs too.
Turkish playmaker Hakan Calhanoglou, who missed the 3-1 loss at Udinese through suspension, is understood to be fully fit after shaking off a thigh injury and could return.
Although Henrikh Mkhitaryan came off after 30 minutes against the Little Zebras, the Armenian is also available to face his former club.
He and Roberto Gagliardini are both candidates to start if Calhanoglu is not ready to play 90 minutes.
Romelu Lukaku took advantage of the international break to recover from a thigh injury that kept him out of Inter's last six matches and could start alongside Lautaro Martinez up front.
Roma will head to the San Siro without summer signing Georgino Wijnaldum (fractured tibia), fellow midfielder Ebrima Darboe (ACL) and defender Rick Karsdorp (meniscus).
But forward Stephan El Shaarawy and defender Marash Kumbulla are available again, while there is good news concerning midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini, who pulled out of the Italy squad over the international break due to a muscular issue.
He was seen training with the squad this week, so is expected to start, but striker Pablo Dybala, who was injured in the pre-game warm-up against Atalanta, could be restricted to bench duty.
Brozovic's suspension will be keenly felt by Inter, who won 69% of their matches (29/42) with him on the pitch last season, averaging 2.2 points per game.
They did not win any of the three matches without the Croatian midfielder, averaging 0.7 points from two draws and one defeat.
Inter are undefeated across their last 10 Serie A contests against Roma with four wins and six draws - only between 1935 and 1941 have they maintained a longer unbeaten run against the Giallorossi (12 games).
However, the Nerazzurri have lost at least three of the first seven games of a Serie A season for only the 10th time in their history.
On only one previous occasion, in the 2011-12 season, have they recorded four defeats in the first eight games played.
Mourinho coached Inter for 76 Serie A matches between 2008 and 2010, recording an average of 2.2 points per game.
But since he returned to Italy last year, he has been unable to lead Roma to anything but defeat in three contests with his former club.
He could pin his hopes on Andrea Belotti, the player who has scored the most away goals (four) against the Nerazzurri in the league since 2016.
Roma, whose recent record against Inter is very discouraging, will fall to another defeat if they waste chances like they did against Atalanta.
The Giallorossi have only scored eight goals this term - half of their tally this time last year -and will lack that extra bit of attacking spark if Dybala is not fully fit.
Lukaku's return should certainly help Inter boost their goal production and, although Brozovic's absence will hurt them, they have plenty of creativity in the midfielders that are available.
The Nerazzurri can extend their recent four-match winning run against Roma with a gritty home victory that could be decided by the first goal in the game.