Inter Milan are in desperate need of three points as they take on Udinese at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium this weekend.

Inter Milan are aiming to keep up with the high-flying AC Milan and Napoli at the top of the Serie A table when they take on Udinese this Sunday. It is a must-win game for the defending champions, who are trailing the second-placed Milan by eight points, thus running the risk of losing further ground, especially with AS Roma breathing down their necks.

Simone Inzaghi’s troops have enjoyed a decent start to the new campaign, even emerging as the most productive team in the Italian top flight. However, they have been undone by an almost faultless Milan and Napoli side, who remain undefeated and have dropped only two points in ten matches.

Inter were on par with their league rivals, but their progress was derailed by a defeat to Lazio, followed by a draw with Juventus last weekend. The Nerazzurri rediscovered their winning form in the midweek fixture against Empoli but face a much trickier task at hand, as they welcome Udinese.

The Friulani are 14th in the league table heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures. However, they have a strong pedigree in top-flight football. They are also unbeaten in their last four league outings, although a tally of just 12 goals is among the lowest in the division.

It remains to be seen whether Udinese can maintain their defensive shape against the highest-scoring team in the division. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at these two sides ahead of their crucial match-up in Serie A this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Inter Milan

Inzaghi had rested some of his key players in the midweek trip to Empoli. Among them was Milan Skriniar, who is hoping to return to the side and renew his defensive combination alongside Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni. After a frantic start to the campaign, they will be looking to keep back-to-back clean sheets for a change.

Changes could be in order in the second line of press. In the wing-back slots, both Matteo Darmian and Federico Dimarco might make way for Denzel Dumfries and Ivan Perisic. It is evidently an attacking switch that Inter may require as part of their additional firepower to break the shackles of Udinese’s defence.

In midfield, Roberto Gagliardini should make way for Hakan Calhanoglu. The Turkish international should operate a bit on the left side, where he can utilise the width provided by the marauding wingback Perisic.

The same applies for Nicolo Barella on the right-hand side, where Dumfries’ forays down the flanks could be a real asset for Inter, especially with a target man like Edin Dzeko lurking upfront. The Italian midfielder hasn’t gelled as much with Dumfries as he did with Achraf Hakimi last season, but the two remain threats for Udinese nonetheless.

Speaking of attack, it remains to be seen whether Dzeko’s usual strike partner in Lautaro Martinez manages to rediscover his scoring touch after failing to find the back of the net in his last four games.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Perisic; Dzeko, Martinez

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Udinese

As for Udinese, their head coach Luca Gotti doesn’t have to deal with too many injury-related absentees heading into this game. The visitors have proven to be difficult opposition for Inter in recent years because of their cautious, defence-first approach.

That won’t change anytime soon, as Gotti looks to deploy an identical 3-5-2 shape that will look to defend deep, with Rodrigo Becao, Samir and Bram Nuytinck covering Marco Silvestri in goal. Their primary job will be to retain a deep block and frustrate the two Inter forwards in Dzeko and Martinez, who is already going through a tough phase.

In midfield, it will be equally important for the likes of Roberto Pereyra, Walace and Jean-Victor Makengo to break up the play of the opposition ball-carriers. Barella and Calhanoglu, in particular, should be their main targets, while Brozovic could be offered a bit more freedom.

Additional cover in the press will be provided by wing-backs Jens Stryger Larsen and Destiny Udogie. They are set to play a vital role in offering the width, while their pace and dynamism make them useful outlets on the counter. The onus of scoring goals, though, will be on the front duo of Isaac Success and Beto.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Silvestri; Becao, Samir, Nuytinck; Stryger Larsen, Pereyra, Walace, Makengo, Udogie; Beto, Success

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Key Stats

  • Inter have conceded only one goal in their last seven league games against Udinese – since 2018, against no team, have the Nerazzurri conceded fewer goals and only against Genoa have they collected more clean sheets (seven).
  • Since 2015, Inter have won 10 Serie A games against Udinese. Only against Genoa have they won more in this period.
  • Udinese have scored more Serie A away goals at Inter than any other side (52 goals in 48 games), in which the Friulani have gained 10 wins, 11 draws and 27 defeats.
  • Inter have won their last three home against Udinese in Serie A, last winning at least four home games in a row against the Friulani back in 1989 (five).
  • Inter have the same number of points after ten games this season as they did in their title-winning campaign last term while also netting the same number of goals and conceding two fewer goals.

Player to Watch

Edin Dzeko

Edin Dzeko has played a far bigger role for Inter than one may have anticipated at the start of the season. The veteran forward has netted as many as seven goals in just ten league matches so far while also bagging two assists. His leadership and physical presence in the final third has helped the club replace Romelu Lukaku, at least in the short term.

And with marquee forward Lautaro Martinez struggling for form, Dzeko could be important now more than ever as Inter Milan look to secure a win this weekend. In fact, it is safe to suggest that Dzeko’s performance could go a long way in dictating the fate of his encounter in Serie A this weekend.

Prediction

Inter Milan 2-0 Udinese

This is a difficult game to predict as Udinese often tend to bring out their best against Inter Milan. However, with the added home support, coupled with a more reinforced first-team and no real injury problems, we are expecting the Nerazzurri to secure a fairly comfortable victory this weekend. A lot will depend on how Dzeko and Martinez perform in the final third, while defensively, the reliable back three might be able to keep a lid on the Udinese forward line.

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