Title contenders Inter head to the Dacia Arena for a thrilling clash against midfielder Udinese, who will bring down the curtain on Sunday’s Serie A action. After a shock defeat in Bologna midweek, there is no margin for error in the traveling camp.
Second-placed goalkeeper Ionut Radu made an epic mistake that led to his side’s 2-1 defeat at Dall’Ara on Wednesday. After allowing bitter rivals Milan to move two points clear at the summit, Inter can ill afford another slip in Udine if they are to stay competitive in the Scudetto race. Simone Inzaghi has already admitted his team ‘will try to the end’ to defend the crown.
In contrast, Udinese are in high spirits going into the matchday after a sensational 4-0 win at Fiorentina in midweek Serie A. After reducing the gap to tenth-placed Sassuolo to three points, he was able to Friuli have dreamed of a first place finish in the first half since 2012/13.
The aforementioned triumph in Florence served to end Udinese’s Serie A winning streak in two games (U1, L1) and gave them their first league clean sheet since a 2-0 home win over Torino in early February. Indeed, that had seen a lack of defensive prowess Friuli concede in 11 consecutive Serie A games before Wednesday.
With an impressive attacking display at Artemio Franchi last time out, Udinese have over 4 goals in six Serie A games for the third time, as many as in the previous 163 games in the competition. They had scored nine goals in two Serie A games at the Dacia Arena before a stunning 1-0 defeat by relegation-threatened Salernitana in their last home game.
Interim coach Gabriele Cioffi has every reason to be optimistic, even if his men have been weakened against Inter recently. Udinese are without a win in their last six Serie A matches Nerazzurri (D2, L6) and failed to make the scorer list in seven of them.
A stunning evening at Dall’Ara ended the visitors’ Serie A run without defeat in 11 games as Inter now face the prospect of losing back-to-back league games away from home for the first time since March 2020. Before Radu’s error , Inter had won four consecutive top division games, three of which held a two-goal advantage.
In fact, Inter won more points per game in Serie A (2.4) in April and won four of their five games in Serie A (L1) last month. Another win is on the cards as the reigning Italian champions have won six of their eight league games in Friuli (D2). However, the two draws in that period have come in the last three encounters, resulting in a 0-0 result.
But even if they concede first, Inter should have enough confidence to hit back and get a result. Inzaghi’s men have gone unbeaten (3 wins, 2 losses) in all five Serie A games in which they have opened the scoring this season.
That’s the kind of mentality Nerazzurri must be put on display to boost their hopes of winning back-to-back crowns for the first time in over a decade.
Outstanding strikers Beto and Antonio Santurro are unavailable for the Udinese squad through injury, while Jean-Victor Makengo has been suspended for a game after collecting yellow cards.
At Inter, Alessandro Bastoni is out with a calf injury, while Inzaghi is suspended through Hakan Calhanoglu. But the guests could bring Samir Handanovic back to his knees.
Udinese Potential Starting XI (3-5-2): Marco Silvestri; Rodrigo Becao, Pablo Mari, Nehuen Perez; Nahuel Molina, Tolgay Arslan, Walace, Roberto Pereyra, Destiny Udogie; Gerard Deulofeu, Isaac Success.
Interpotential starting XI (3-5-2): Samir Handanovic; Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij, Danilo D’Ambrosio; Matteo Darmian, Nicolo Barella, Marcelo Brozovic, Arturo Vidal, Ivan Perisic; Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko.
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