Inter Milan will be keen to bounce back from their shock defeat against Bologna when they travel to Udinese on Sunday.

Defending champions Inter Milan suffered a setback earlier in the week when they suffered a stunning 2-0 loss to Bologna. Ivan Perisic gave the Nerazzurri an early lead, but it was not enough to see them secure all three points.

The dropped points have once again turned the Serie A title race on its head, handing the advantage back to arch-rivals AC Milan. With four games to go, Inter cannot afford any more slip-ups and can only do their bit and hope for the best.

A trip to Udinese beckons as Simone Inzaghi’s men look to put the trip to Bologna behind them. The Nerazzurri have a good record against Udinese in recent times, winning six of their last eight games in the league. In fact, Inter have not lost in the tie since December 2017.

While Inter have much to play for, Udinese, for their part, are comfortable in mid-table. Gabriele Cioffi’s side is in the 12th spot in Serie A and have precious little to play for. They provided a stunning performance against Fiorentina midweek and will arrive for the game with momentum on their side.

Udinese have shown themselves to be inconsistent this season. Impressive wins have been offset by disappointing losses to the likes of Salernitana in recent weeks. However, they have already bettered last season’s points tally in the league and could make life difficult for Inter.

It promises to be an intriguing game that could decide which Milan side wins the Scudetto. The Hard Tackle looks at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might deploy.

Team News & Tactics

Udinese

Udinese sit 12th in the Serie A table and have little to play for this season. Gabriele Cioffi’s side have put up some excellent results in recent weeks and are coming off the back of a 4-0 thrashing of Fiorentina.

Cioffi will be without Jean-Victor Makengo, who is suspended for the game and Beto who is still nursing a hamstring injury. He will, however, welcome back Nehuen Perez and Roberto Pereyra and has an otherwise full squad to choose from.

Cioffi is likely to deploy Udinese in a 3-5-2 formation that could match Inter Milan step for step. Marco Silvestri will start in goal behind the back three of Rodrigo Becao, Pablo Mari and Nehuen Perez.

The trio of Tolgay Arslan, Walace and Roberto Pereyra will start in the middle of the park and will be tasked with nullifying Marcelo Brozovic and co. The Croat has been Inter Milan’s heartbeat in the middle of the park and shackling him could nullify Inzaghi’s well-drilled system.

Iyenoma Udogie and Nahuel Molina will go up against Denzel Dumfries and Ivan Perisic. Whoever gains the upper hand could decide how the battle on the flanks turns out. Gerard Deulofeu and Isaac Success will lead the line and will hope to catch out Stefan de Vrij with their pace.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Silvestri; Becao, Mari, Perez; Molina, Arslan, Walace, Pereyra, Udogie; Success, Deulofeu

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Inter Milan

The defending champions do not control their Serie A destiny anymore this season and can only blame themselves for the situation. The least they can do now is to win their remaining four games and hope for the best.

While they have a good record against Udinese of late, whether they can show bottle to see out a must-win game begs the question. Inzaghi will have to pick up his side’s morale and, also account for a few absentees on the night.

Robin Gosens and Alessandro Bastoni are both ruled out with injuries, while Hakan Calhanoglu is suspended. Given that Gosens and Bastoni are first-team stars, they will be missed. Inzaghi has patented the 3-5-2 formation, and it is difficult to see him change the formation for the remainder of the season.

He will be glad to have Samir Handanovic back in goal, especially after Ionut Radu gifted Bologna the winner on Wednesday. The veteran has been shaky this season but is an upgrade over the Romanian. He will be protected by the back three of Danilo D’Ambrosio, Stefan de Vrij and Milan Skriniar.

Marcelo Brozovic will once again start as the lynchpin for Inter in midfield and will be keen to influence proceedings on the night. Arturo Vidal is likely to replace Calhanoglu in the lineup and will start in central midfield as the team’s destroyer. Him fulfilling the role should permit Nicolo Barella to make use of his ball carrying skills further up the field.

With all three points needed, the more attack-minded Denzel Dumfries should get the nod ahead of Matteo Darmian at right wing-back. Ivan Perisic appears to have rediscovered his scoring touch and is a shoo-in on the other flank.

All of Inter’s strikers have done well in recent weeks, and Inzaghi is likely to go with his first-choice pairing of Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko. The duo have blown hot and cold in the past few weeks, and there is no better time than now to rediscover their scoring boots.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, D’Ambrosio; Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Vidal, Perisic; Dzeko, Martinez

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Key Stats

  • Inter Milan have won six of the last eight matches between the two sides. Udinese have not come out on top since 2017.
  • Inter Milan have kept a clean sheet against Udinese in seven of their last eight games.
  • Inter Milan leads the scoring charts in Serie A this season with 72 goals. They also have the meanest defence, conceding a mere 28 goals all season.
  • Inter Milan and Udinese have won the most points per game in April 2022.
  • Udinese have scored four or more goals in three of their last six games. This was as many as in their previous 163 league fixtures.

Player to Watch

Samir Handanovic

Will the Inter Milan captain step up? (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)

Will the Inter Milan captain step up? (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)

The veteran goalkeeper’s return will be a huge boost for Inter Milan, especially given Ionut Radu’s howler midweek. While Handanovic is in the final years of his career, he has more often than not stepped up when needed.

The experienced goalkeeper will provide a sense of stability and security to the Inter Milan defence that could falter if they lose their shape. With Alessandro Bastoni unavailable and Stefan de Vrij showing a lack of pace, Udinese could enjoy some success, especially on the break. Having Handanovic as the last line of defence will help Inter fans breathe easy.

Prediction

Udinese 1-1 Inter Milan

Udinese and Inter Milan have played out 0-0 draws in their last two games and could settle for a point again this time around. Inter need a win and are likely to take the game to the home side, but their morale will have taken a hit following the midweek loss.

Udinese, however, are in high spirits and will try to drive the knife into Inter deeper. It promises to be an exciting game with both sides looking to outscore one another. We believe the match will end in a tie, largely impacting Inter Milan’s chances of defending their title.

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