When: Sunday, January 8th 6:30 a.m. ET/ 12.30 p.m. CET
Where: Dacia Arena, Udine, Italy.
Sitting just five points out of a Champions League spot, Inter will look to start 2017 in the same way they ended 2016, with a win.
Inter won this fixture 4-0 last season, but don’t expect Sunday’s match to be a forgone conclusion for the Nerazzurri. While Stefano Pioli’s Inter have every reason to be confident facing Udinese, Luigi Delneri’s side are currently clicking on all cylinders.
They are in 10th place in Serie A, have taken 10 out of a possible 12 points in December, and are unbeaten in their last four matches. Moreover, the defensively-solid Udinese conceded just one goal last month, and doubled their scoring output from November with six December goals.
To breakdown Udinese, Inter will have to be patient and clinical in front of net, and can’t show signs of post-Christmas Break rust. Expect Udinese to stay behind the ball, looking to exploit Inter on the counter attack. To win, the Nerazzurri will likely have to rely on the creativity of their attacking midfielders and the finishing ability of Mauro Icardi.
With a seemingly favorable upcoming schedule, Inter should be motivated to use January as a launching point for a top-three push. Taking three points from Sunday’s match will certainly go a long way in continuing the momentum Pioli’s team gained in the four-match winning streak before the break.
For Inter, Gary Medel has been left out of Pioli’s 23-man squad for the trip to Udine, despite reports that he had recovered from his long-term injury. The likely departing Stevan Jovetic and Felipe Melo have also been left out of the squad.
While Joao Mario returns from his suspension, I suspect Pioli will keep the same Starting XI that featured in Inter’s 3-0 victory over Lazio in the last match before the break.
Udinese will be at full strength, with right-back Silvan Widmer returning after missing their pre-break 0-0 draw with Sampdoria due to illness.
Probable Starting XIs
Udinese (4-3-3): Karnezis; Felipe, Samir, Danilo, Widmer; Fofana, Kums, Hallfredsson; Thereau, Zapata, de Paul.
Inter (4-2-3-1): Handanovic; Ansaldi, Miranda, Murillo, D’Ambrosio; Brozovic, Kondogbia; Perisic, Banega, Candreva; Icardi.
How to Watch
TV: Sky SuperCalcio HD & Sky Calcio 1 HD (Italy); BT Sport 3 (UK); Rai International (USA)
(For other countries' streaming and broadcasting options see here)