It’s going to take a while to forget about Wednesday’s debacle in Emilia-Romagna, but Inter will try to make some amends this weekend. The Nerazzurri gets a chance to bounce back from its first defeat in eight Serie A rounds when it visits Udinese Sunday. The Friulani are once again a tough customer (though not in the usual way) but anything less than all three points puts another nail in Inter’s Scudetto hopes coffin.
Udinese sits safely midtable (surprise, surprise) with 43 points, far removed from European contention or relegation. When we saw them last in October, Luca Gotti was the man in charge, but he’s since been replaced by his ex-assistant Gabriele Cioffi. The latter employs the same 3-5-2 shape as his predecessor but with a few notable differences. Udinese’s goal tally has surged upwards; whereas it averaged 1.1 goals per game last season and scored a total of 42, it already has 53 goals for 1.56 gpg this campaign. That’s made all the more impressive once you consider the center point of Udinese in years past, Rodrigo De Paul, is now at Atletico Madrid.
Nonetheless, you would barely notice the difference on the pitch. Though it remains a predominantly counterattacking side, Udinese has 17 goals in its last 7 outings, including a 4-0 win at Fiorentina midweek. Gerard Deulofeu is the main protagonist and has stepped into a larger role this year with 12 goals and 4 assists, including 3 goals and 2 assists in his last five. Portuguese striker Beto has shown promise and more than enough raw talent to succeed in Italy. He currently sits on 11 goals but is doubtful for Sunday with injury. Udinese also gets significant attacking output from its wingbacks, Nahuel Molina (6g, 1a) and Destiny Udogie (4g, 1a).
As for Inter, defeats like the Bologna one is a brutal test of the mentality of the squad. Will the Nerazzurri gather itself and handle its business with four games to go, or will it lie down and let Milan cruise to the title? An away fixture at a team as tough to beat as Udinese is no easy task in the best of times, let alone with the title on the line. But Inter is champions of Italy for a reason, and they need to show that four more times.
Inter leads the all-time series with a record of 56W/32D/23L and is unbeaten in the last eight against the Friulani. The return fixture was a 2-0 win for the good guys, decided by a second-half brace from Joaquin Correa.
- 0-0 (A) - 23/1/21
- 5-1 (H) - 23/5/21
- 2-0 (H) - 31/10/21
Predicted Starting XIs
Udinese 2-3 Inter Milan
Despite its recent attacking downpour, expect Udinese to sit deep as usual and strike on the counter. Ex-Milan player Deulofeu is almost certain to snag one or two, but Inter will come out on top thanks to goals from Correa, Lautaro, and Gagliardini.