Inter Milan will be aiming to maintain their perfect start to the Serie A campaign when they host Udinese on Saturday night.
Following a mixed pre-season, Inter Milan look to have sprung into life under new manager Antonio Conte. They have won their first two matches in the new edition of Serie A, notably securing a 4-0 victory against Lecce in the opening fixture.
The Nerazzurri also registered a narrow 2-1 win over Cagliari before the international break. They are one of only three sides to retain a hundred percent winning record after two matches. Juventus and Torino are the other two teams to have achieved the same feat. Inter, however, are atop the Serie A table due to their superior goal difference.
That being said, things could get tricky against an Udinese side, who are one of the most unpredictable teams in the league. The club from Udine registered an impressive 1-0 win over AC Milan in their opening fixture but are coming on the back of a 3-1 defeat to Parma in the last game.
Udinese do have an exciting squad, which is fully capable of causing an upset this evening. A win for them could comfortably take them to the top half of the league table. As for Inter, they will be desperate for all three points in their bid to stay ahead of Juventus. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we take a look at both the sides ahead of this exciting match-up in the Serie A.
Team News & Tactics
Antonio Conte could ring in the changes as he explores the potential of his current crop of players. New arrival Alexis Sanchez is poised to make his debut for the Nerazzurri. He will partner Romelu Lukaku as leaders of the Inter Milan attack.
Stefan de Vrij could be available after the international break, along with Diego Godin. However, Conte is unlikely to risk de Vrij, meaning Andrea Ranocchia could retain his place at the heart of the Inter backline. As for Godin, he will make his first start for the club, probably at the expense of Danilo D’Ambrosio.
New signing Nicolo Barella is also expected to make his full debut for Inter against Udinese. The Italian international will replace Matias Vecino in the number eight role. Barella will be partnered by Stefano Sensi and Croatian international Marcelo Brozovic.
Elsewhere, Valentino Lazard may still have to settle for a place on the bench, with Antonio Candreva likely to start ahead of him in the right wing-back slot. Kwadwo Asamoah will get the nod ahead of Christian Biraghi and Federico Dimarco on the opposite flank.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Godin, Ranocchia, Skriniar; Candreva, Barella, Brozovic, Sensi; Asamoah; Lukaku, Sanchez
Udinese boss Igor Tudor will stick to his preferred 3-5-2 setup, albeit with one slight variation. The Croat is not expected to make too many changes, with Rodrigo Becao, William Troost-Ekong and Samir comprising the three-man backline.
Jens-Stryger Larsen, meanwhile, is a guaranteed starter as the right wing-back. He will operate as the wing-back on the right flank, ahead of Hidde ter Avest. Udinese, unfortunately, do not have any out and out left wing-back options, meaning Ken Sema is expected to continue on the opposite flank. Ignacio Pussetto is also an option, however.
We could expect one little change in midfield, with new signing Walace replacing the ageing Mato Jajalo. The Brazilian star will be partnered by Rolando Mandragora and Seko Fofana, who will return to the starting lineup as the club needs an additional defensive body in midfield.
Fofana’s inclusion in the side means star playmaker Rodrigo de Paul will operate in the number ten role, just in behind the central striker Kevin Lasagna. The 27-year-old forward scored the opener in the defeat to Parma and will be keen on extending his scoring tally against Inter Milan.
Probable Lineup (3-5-1-1): Musso; Becao, Troost-Ekong, Samir; Larsen, Walace, Mandragora, Fofana, Sema; de Paul; Lasagna
- Inter Milan have kept a clean sheet in their last three league meetings against Udinese: only in 1962 did the Nerazzurri have four in a row against them.
- Inter Milan have won three of their last four Serie A home games against Udinese, as many as they had in the previous nine at San Siro.
- Inter Milan have prevailed in their opening two games in Serie A this season: on only four occasions have they won their first three games of a season.
- Since the start of last season, Inter Milan have only conceded 10 Serie A goals at home, at least six fewer than any other side that has been ever-present in the competition during the period.
- Udinese have won four of their last five league games, losing the last one against Parma: they had collected four wins from their previous 16 Serie A matches.
Player to Watch
Inter Milan fans will be excited to witness Sanchez making his debut for the Nerazzurri. It will also be a special game for the Chilean international, who will be up against his former club Udinese. Indeed, the 30-year-old had featured in 112 competitive matches for Udinese from 2006 to 2011 before moving to Barcelona.
It will be interesting to see how the Udinese crowd react to Sanchez playing for Inter Milan. But most importantly, the partnership between him and Lukaku is something worth keeping an eye on, seeing as both of them struggled at Manchester United last season.
Inter Milan 2-0 Udinese
Inter Milan have fared extremely well at home in recent times. The Nerazzurri will also be boosted by the return of Diego Godin, which means they are likely to keep yet another clean sheet at San Siro against Udinese. And given their attacking prowess, we expect the hosts to seal a comprehensive 2-0 victory in this encounter.