Andy Brassell on European Football: No let-up for Inter in Serie A
Antonio Conte's side have no time for pause after an incredible derby win, Dortmund are still leaky and Espanyol are back from the dead, writes Andy Brassell
It only gets tougher for Inter
It was a result, and a performance, for the ages. At 2-0 down to Milan at half-time in the Derby della Madonnina, Inter's excellent first season under Antonio Conte was hanging by a thread - a predicament made all the worse by Juventus' surprise Saturday loss at Hellas Verona opening the door for the Nerazzurri.
So Inter's second-half recovery in the derby was as vital as it was exhilarating, bringing them level on points with Juve and emphatically sweeping out the cobwebs after a largely indifferent start to 2020. Alexis Sánchez made a big contribution, underlining that it all need not rest on Romelu Lukaku while Lautaro Martínez is out.
There's no let-up, however. With a Coppa Italia semi-final against Napoli the next big game at San Siro this midweek, Conte and company then have as tough a fixture as one could imagine next Sunday as they visit Lazio, who themselves have closed the gap at the top to just a single point after their 1-0 win at Parma. Simone Inzaghi's team have won 13 out of their last 15 in Serie A (drawing the other two) so even a draw would be a respectable result - though Juve have their own chance to bite back with a straightforward-looking home game with lowly Brescia.
Back Lazio and Inter to draw at 3.60
Leaky Dortmund don't look like tightening up
If you were in any doubt that Borussia Dortmund are as dramatic as Bundesliga football gets, the weekend should have dispelled that. When we should have been focussing on the big face-off between Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig, we were actually gossiping about Die Schwarzgelben's implosion at Leverkusen on Saturday night.
Having let 2-1 and 3-2, BVB conceded twice in the last ten minutes to stumble to a damaging loss, which again puts the spotlight on Lucien Favre and his ability to mould a very talented set of players into a coherent collective. After the midweek DfB Pokal exit to struggling Werder Bremen, Dortmund have conceded seven in two games, despite having spent heavily to bring back Mats Hummels this season.
With sporting director Michael Zorc pointing the finger at the team's leaky rearguard after the game, Favre has a problem. Known for getting his teams organised, Dortmund look anything but at the moment. With improving and prolific Eintracht Frankfurt visiting on Friday, BVB must simply look at outscoring the opposition to keep up their title challenge - and to save their coach from further scrutiny.
Back Eintracht Frankfurt to win at Dortmund at 7.40
Espanyol aim for great escape
Getting your first home league win in February isn't a good look, but Espanyol have waited long enough for theirs that one suspects that they couldn't care less at this point in time. Their Sunday lunchtime win over relegation rivals Mallorca was absolutely vital, and finally lifted them off the bottom of the table.
Much of Los Pericos' season looks horrible on paper - the above statistic, for starters, but also that their current coach Abelardo is already their third of the season says little for the board's decision making. With that said, they were belatedly decisive in the January window, netting defender Leandro Cabrera from Getafe and rescuing centre-forward Raúl de Tomás (or R.D.T. if we're going by his shirt) from a short and uncomfortable spell at Benfica.
It was de Tomás who scored the vital winner against Mallorca, and he has scored in each of his four games in the blue and white stripes so far. As a player who scored plentifully for another struggler, Rayo Vallecano, last season, he is ideal for Espanyol's purposes. Celta Vigo's late winner against Sevilla this weekend was a blow to them but Espanyol aren't the same team that began this season in crisis, and they have given themselves a genuine opportunity of beating the drop with their form under Abelardo so far.
Lay Espanyol to be relegated at 2.98
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