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The Nerazzurri are off to the Dacia Arena on Sunday to face troubled Udinese for the early kick-off at 12:30 CET.

Inter’s annual trip to the previously named Friuli stadium has in recent times has become less daunting than it had been in the early 2000s, but that in no way means that a result for Inter will be a forgone conclusion. Despite a weak start to their campaign, Luigi Delneri’s Udinese have recently found their feet in the competition, and are on a four game no-loss streak.

Delneri is wily veteran of the game and will probably look to sit deep and draw out Inter looking to hit the Nerazzurri on the counterattack, a tactic that has proven to have some measure of success this season.

Stefano Pioli on the other hand will look to continue with a business-as-usual approach, using a high pressing, compact and intense approach to impose his preferred style of play on the opposition. Critical to the Nerazzurri’s success here will be the work rate and tactical discipline of the central trio of Geoffrey Kondogbia, Marcelo Brozovic and Joao Mario. The three will have to orchestrate and synchronize their efforts to close down the opposition, cover the flanks, distribute the ball out wide and assist Mauro Icardi in the box.

Team News

Gary Medel has made a recovery from his long-term injury, but will be expected to start on the bench, giving Kondogbia another chance to redeem his future at Inter in the midfield alongside Brozovic. Therefore, expect no surprises or significant changes in the lineup Pioli has preferred in the run-up to the New Year.
Probable Inter line-up (subject to change): (4-2-3-1) Handanovic; Ansaldi, Miranda, Murillo, D’Ambrosio; Kondogbia, Brozovic; Perisic, Joao Mario, Candreva; Icardi (C).

Stats
Last Season: Udinese 0 – 4 Inter
Last 10 Head to Head: Inter’s last season mauling of Udinese in Udine is consistent with recent trends in the fixture; despite Inter’s poor showing in the Serie A since 2010, they have managed to beat Udinese away in six of their league encounters versus the home side’s meagre two wins.

Player to Watch:
Marcelo Brozovic: The Croat has cemented himself as Inter’s most important midfielder in the games following DeBoer’s sacking. Full of running, intelligent passing, great defensive coverage and a few spectacular goals for good measure. If Brozo can replicate his pre-Chirstmas form, expect him to be a difference maker here.

Officials
Referee: Daniele Doveri
Assistants: Costanzo, De Pinto
Fourth Official: La Rocca
Additional Assistants: Tagliavento and Aureliano

Prediction & Authors Note
Prediction & scorers: Udinese 1-1 Inter with Icardi finding the target.
Author’s Note: Udinese’s form in their last four games has been almost identical to Inter’s, and factoring in some match-rust carried over from the winter break, expect this game to be no walk in the park.