Wins over Torino and Viktoria Plzen have stabilized Inter’s 2022/23 season after a dreary start to proceedings, but the Nerazzurri are far from out of the woods just yet. Despite back-to-back shutouts, Inter still looks a step or two behind the pace and far from its best. While that was enough to get by Plzen and Torino, a trip to red-hot Udinese will require much more from Simone Inzaghi’s side.
Udinese has been one of the surprises of the still-young season, currently in 4th on 13 points (4W-1D-1L). What makes this most surprising is how much turmoil the Zebrettte underwent over the summer. Then interim manager Gabriele Cioffi, who had done a stellar job after replacing Luca Gotti midway through 2021/22, left to take the reins at Hellas Verona, and Andrea Sottil was appointed. The father of Fiorentina winger Ricky Sottil was a bit of an unknown with only a few stints in Serie B and C to his name. So far, however, the 48-year-old looks a perfect fit for Udinese and another nifty hire from a club that lives off turning the unknown into the known.
The Friulani’s success this season hasn’t come in the same way as other Udinese teams of years past. Rather than grinding out 0-0 and 1-0 results every week (though that’s still part of their skillset), Udinese has the second-best attack in the league with 12 goals through 6 games, most memorably a 4-0 hammering of Roma. Portuguese striker Beto continues to make waves after an 11-goal debut season in Italy with 4 tallies to his name already, while Roberto Pereyra (1g, 4a), who’s found new life as a wingback, (Gerard Deulofeu (3 assists), and Lazar Samardzic (2 goals) form the rest of the frontline. Also keep an eye on left wingback Destiny Udogie, heavily linked to top clubs in Serie A before Tottenham swooped in and left him on loan to Udinese for the remainder of 22/23. One name you might notice missing is Nahuel Molina, another common name linked to Inter’s wingback role but now at Atletico Madrid.
Despite its early season struggles, Inter is only two points off Napoli, Milan, and Atalanta at the top of Serie A. Of course, none of that will matter if Inter doesn’t start finding its form in performances, and with 8 games coming up in October, that needs to happen sooner rather than later. Away at Udinese is a tricky test in the best of times, let alone after a midweek trip to the Czech Republic, but Sunday will give us a glimpse at whether Inter can be a real contender or if the early season struggles are fated to linger.
Inter has a 57W-32D-23L all-time record against Udinese, including three straight wins going back to January 2021.
- 1-2 (A), 1/5/2022
- 2-0 (H), 31/10/2021
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Udinese 1-2 Inter Milan
A Beto goal will make Inter sweat for the three points but ultimately a Lautaro Martinez brace will prove too much for the hosts.