Inter Fail to Go Top of the Table After Goalless Draw with Udinese

In Round 19 of Serie A, Inter were aiming to build on their tremendous last week’s 2-0 win over Juventus in the first Derby d’Italia of the season. On Saturday night, Antonio Conte’s men traveled to Udine to face the league strugglers Udinese as the Bianconeri tried to end their eight-match win-less run.

Despite a resilient performance from Luca Gotti’s men, Udinese’s search for the win continues. The home side managed to claim an important point in what was a game of few big chances. In contrast, Inter wasted a glorious opportunity to overtake their fiercest cross-city rivals Milan at the top of the Serie A standings following the Rossoneri’s 0-3 drubbing against Atalanta.

Both managers opted for a rather identical tactical formation in 3-5-2. The hosts, to be perfectly precise, lined-up in a 3-5-1-1 set-up, with Gerard Deulofeu operating behind lone striker Kevin Lasagna. Moreover, Udinese’s two biggest contributors in terms of goals and assists this season, Rodrigo de Paul and Rodrigo Pereyra, started in central midfield alongside Tolgay Arslan.

On the other hand, Conte also went for a tried and trusted 3-5-2 shape, with Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni forming the formidable back line. Nicolò Barella, Marcelo Brozovic, and Arturo Vidal all kept their place in the starting line-up, as well as did Inter’s two top-scorers of the season in Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez.

The opening minutes did not promise it to be a free-flowing encounter, but an early mistake by Bastoni nearly gifted Udinese an unexpected lead. The 21-year-old Italian found himself under pressure by de Paul, who intercepted the pass, but Inter managed to get away with it. Udinese’s high-press approach put the visitors’ back line under a severe amount of pressure in the early stages of the match, but the home side could not turn it to their advantage.

It looked like Inter responded to Udinese’s pressure with a good chance in the 8th minute as de Vrij cut the opponents defense open with a lovely through ball over the top which found Martinez, but his goal was ruled out for offside.

Most of the Nerazzurri’s offensive action took place down the right-wing, with the right wing-back Hakimi and Barella as the main creators. However, the home team were solid at blocking Inter’s attempts to supply the striker duo in Martinez and Lukaku.

Udinese’s rare appearance in Inter’s final third came with a bang when Jens Stryger Larsen rose above the Nerazzurri’s defense inside the box to power a strong header, but the Dane missed the target as the ball went just over the bar.

One good action on the offensive end was replaced with a bad one on the defensive end as Rodrigo Becao gave away a horrible pass straight to feet of Martinez, but the Argentine was denied by Juan Musso who made a splendid one-hand save to prevent his countryman from scoring.

After a ferocious few minutes, it took another 10 before we saw another attempt at goal as Barella tried a spectacular effort from outside the box, which went just wide of the left post. The final 10 minutes of the first half belonged to Inter, who slowly started to gain control of the game. Arturo Vidal and Ashley Young saw their attempts missing the target just moments before the half-time.

In the second half, the dynamics of the game did not seem to change much although Udinese looked slightly more assertive going forward compared to the opening 45 minutes. In the 54th minute, the home side had the first half-chance of the second half as Pereyra received a clever short pass inside the box, but the Argentine fluffed his lines horribly, sending the ball high over the bar.

On the contrary, Inter continued to build most of their play down the right-wing through the combination of Hakimi and Barella. The former had a glorious opportunity to record his fourth assist of the season when he broke away down the wing, with Lukaku charging down the center, but the Moroccan wing-back managed to overhit his low cross.

On the other hand, Udinese responded a few minutes later when De Paul unleashed a powerful shot just outside the penalty box, which went whiskers away from the left post. In the 75th minute, Inter had their last decent chance to win the game as Hakimi easily beat one of Udinese’s defenders inside the box, but his shot went inches wide of the far post.

The final 15 minutes mostly belonged to the visitors, but despite their dominance in possession, the Nerazzurri lacked creativity in the final third of the pitch as they kept sending endless crosses into the box. The dying minutes of the match saw a lot of chaos as Conte received two yellow cards in succession for arguing with the official, and the Italian manager was sent off to the stands.

Inter finished the game with an xG (expected goals) of 0.69, against Udinese’s 0.28, in what was a disappointing night for Conte’s men.  



January 23, 2021 – Serie A 2020-21 Round 19

UDINESE (3-5-2): Musso; Becao, Bonifazi (63′ De Maio), Samir; Stryger Larsen (78′ Molina), De Paul, Arslan (78′ Walace), Pereyra, Zeegelar (78′ st Nuytinck); Lasagna, Deulofeu (62′ Mandragora) (Scuffet, Gasparini, Makengo, Micin, Nestorovski, Ouwejan) Coach: Gotti
INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, De Vrij, Bastoni; Hakimi, Barella, Brozovic, Vidal (70′ Sensi), Young (70′ Perisic); Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez (70′ st Sanchez) (Padelli, Radu, Darmian, Eriksen, Gagliardini, Kolarov, Pinamonti, Ranocchia) Coach: Conte

REFEREE: Mr. Maresca from Napoli
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Arslan, Samir, Zeegelaar (U), Bastoni, Sensi (I); Red Card: Conte (I); Extra Time: 1st Half 1′, 2nd Half 4′