Preview – Udinese Vs Inter: Shaking Off The Traditional January Blues
With a drab January finally behind them, Inter look to get back on track and in the thick of the title race with a win against hosts Udinese. Match tonight Sunday at 20:45 CET.
The moment at which Inter need results to get their season back on track seems much more imminent as the disappointing draws pile on. Antonio Conte will know that if his debut season on the Inter bench is to be deemed a success he needs to keep pace with champions Juventus for the longest time possible. Having been gifted a result by Napoli who beat the leaders last week, Inter now must capitalize and do their part in beating a tough Udinese side.
Inter’s recent draws have all been almost identical in that the Nerazzurri start their matches well, dominate and score, yet are unable to kill of the match. The second half seems to bring about a spectacular dip in physical output which allows their opponents to re-enter a match and eventually score an entirely unnecessary goal.
Conte will have to rely more and more on his bench to ensure his players, particularly the wing-backs, are fresh for the entire ninety minutes. Ashley Young has been very bright in the two matches he’s played so far, and has shown everyone that despite his ripe age of 34, he can still perform in top physical condition for a full match, much more so than the disappointing Antonio Candreva and Cristiano Biraghi. Danilo D’Ambrosio and Victor Moses might thus be used on the right flank together to ensure that the second half dip in output recently exhibited by Antonio Candreva is neutralized.
Despite being in fourteenth place, Udinese are certainly no slouches. With thirty three goals conceded, they have a defensive record that can easily see them in a top ten place. Udinese’s troubles seem to be at the other end of the pitch. Despite having two able and experienced strikers, in Stefano Okaka and Kevin Lasagna the Zebretti have been unable to score enough to keep the shadow of relegation firmly away.
That said, the hosts possess all the tools to present Inter with a tangible and real threat on the break, and so Inter need to ensure not to be as profligate when presented with chances as they have been in recent weeks. To take all three points, Inter must break down a tough defense and make sure they do not suffer from the recently frequent second half lapse.
An era of turbulence within the Inter squad as Conte makes his squad selection, weighing up players’ fitness, the readiness of newcomers to slot into his system and a tricky schedule that sees Inter face Milan in the derby then Napoli in the Coppa Italia and Lazio in the league within 10 days. While Stefano Sensi and Marcelo Brozovic seem to have regained fitness, expect neither player to start the match, saving the duo for the Derby in full fitness. Roberto Gagliardini is still out till the latter parts of February so one will probably see the nigh outgoing Matias Vecino once again take to the pitch.
Probable line-up (3-4-3): Handanovic (C); Godin, De Vrij, Skriniar; Moses, Barella, Vecino, Young; Sanchez, Eriksen, Lukaku.
Last Season: Udinese 0-0 Inter
Last 10 Head to Head: Inter have absolutely dominated the head to head encounters between the two sides, winning eight times to a miserly single win by this weekend’s hosts. Inter have not lost in the Dacia arena since January of 2013 (over four hears before it was renamed the Dacia Arena).
Keep an Eye on
Christian Eriksen: Inter’s marquee signing of the January transfer window is expected to make his starting debut against Udinese on Sunday. All eyes will be on the Dane as he looks to make an impact for his new side. With Lautaro Martinez out of the side, Eriksen will most certainly have a more offensively inclined role than had the Argentine been on the pitch. Whether he will play next to Sanchez behind Lukaku or whether he plays as a second striker himself, expect Conte to give him a freer role to express himself offensively.
Referee: Marco Di Bello.
Assistants: Stefano Alassio and Filippo Valeriani.
Fourth Official: Marco Piccinnini.
VAR Assistants: Michael Fabbri and Mauro Galetto.
Prediction & Concluding Remarks
Prediction & scorers: Udinese 1-2 Inter with Lukaku and Sanchez to score for the visitors.
Just as the curse of the ex has plagued Inter in recent times, expect Udinese to fall foul of that destiny as well as Alexis Sanchez will look to re-announce his arrival at Inter with a goal against his former side. While this match will be no simple affair, it seems that the January signings and Juve’s loss last week may have woken the Nerazzurri up and so expect them to take the three homes back home.