Inter vs Udinese Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battles, Team News & More

League leaders Inter will host Udinese this Saturday as they look to maintain their lead at the top of Serie A. 

The Nerazzurri have yet to lose a game this season in the league, winning 12 and drawing four. One of those draws came last Saturday, as they were unable to beat third-placed Juventus away from home. 

Udinese head into the game 13th in the Serie A league table, seven points above the relegation places, but with a game-in-hand. Massimo Oddo’s side have hit some form though after winning their last three games, two of those wins came in the league, while the other was an emphatic 8-3 victory over Perugia in the fourth round of the Coppa Italia.

Here is everything you need to know ahead of the clash at the San Siro:

Classic Encounter

FC Internazionale Milano v Udinese Calcio - Serie A

In a fixture that has largely been dominated by Inter, the recent head-to-head record has been more even between the two teams. From the last 10 fixtures, Udinese have managed to win three times and draw one. One of those victories was particularly memorable as they managed to win 5-2 away from home back in 2013. 

The Little Zebras stormed to a 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes with goals from Giampiero Pinzi and Maurizio Domizzi. But Inter struck back in the 12th minute when Juan Jesus managed to squeeze a low strike past Udinese goalkeeper Zeljko Brkic. 

However, the away side pulled away quickly again, with two goals coming either side of half-time. Antonio Di Natale’s fantastic curled effort from the left-hand side of the box and Gabriel Silva’s chip over the goalkeeper saw Udinese take a 4-1 advantage. 

A 63rd minute strike from Inter’s Tommaso Rocchi gave his side some hope, but that only lasted a few minutes until a mistake from the home side’s defense allowed Luis Muriel to score Udinese’s fifth goal and seal the game.

Key Battles

Mauro Icardi vs Danilo 

FC Internazionale v AC Chievo Verona - Serie A

Inter captain Mauro Icardi is not only his sides top scorer, he is also Serie A’s leading finisher. He has netted an impressive 16 goals from as many games, and is one of the key reasons why his side are at the top of the league table. 

This sets up an interesting battle with Udinese’s skipper Danilo. The Brazilian has played 12 times for his side this season and has helped keep a clean sheet on four occasions. 

The away side will need their captain to be on top form if he is to help add another clean sheet against the league leaders. 

Matias Vecino vs Jakub Jankto

FC Crotone v Udinese Calcio - Serie A

Jakub Jankto has been in fine form this season for Udinese, getting three goals and two assists in 13 league appearances this campaign. One of those assists came last Sunday as the midfielder helped his side to a 2-0 win over Benevento.

Inter midfielder Matias Vecino may be the player who is tasked with stopping Jankto in this Saturday’s game. Vecino signed for Inter in the summer and has featured in all but one of their 16 league games so far, helping his side keep seven clean sheets from his deep central midfield role. 

The winner of this battle could prove to have an influential effect on the outcome of the game. 

Team News

SSC Napoli v FC Internazionale - Serie A

Inter are expected to make many changes from the team that beat Pordenone on penalties in the Coppa Italia on Tuesday. 

Joao Mario could miss out again with tonsillitis, as could Eder who has muscular fatigue. 

Udinese have no new injury concerns heading into this Saturday’s game, with Valon Behrami potentially still out with inflammation.

Potential Inter Starting Lineup: Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Skriniar, Miranda, Santon; Vecino, Gagliardini, Candreva, Valero, Perisic; Icardi.

Potential Udinese Starting Lineup: Bizzarri; Larsen, Danilo, Nuytinck; Widmer, Adnan, Barak, Fofana, Jankto; Lasagna, Lopez. 


FC Internazionale v Pordenone - TIM Cup

With the 0-0 draw against Juventus, Luciano Spalletti’s Inter remained unbeatan in Serie A this season. This emphasises the great form the league leaders are in. 

Udinese have hit a good patch of form themselves, winning three games on the bounce and scoring 13 goals in the process. You would still perhaps expect Inter to take the three points but it could prove to be a tough game for them. 

Prediction: Inter Milan 3-1 Udinese

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Bayern’s Superstar Stalwart Jerome Boateng Refuses to Rule Out Serie A Switch to Juventus & Inter

Bayern Munich’s star defender Jerome Boateng has refused to rule out a move in the future and fully commit to the Bundesliga champions, amid reported interested from Serie A powerhouses Juventus and Inter Milan.

The German international has spent his entire career in his native country bar a single season with Manchester City in 2010. However, he has unexpectedly put potential suitors on red alert, revealing to Bild (via Calciomercato) that he would be willing to leave the Bavarians in the future:
“Future with Bayern Munich? To play in a foreign league has always been on my mind. It will depend [on] the situation but let’s see.”

The 29-year-old is currently enjoying his seventh campaign at the Allianz Arena and has firmly established himself as one of the finest central defenders in world football.

Juventus are still reeling from the loss of Leonardo Bonucci to AC Milan in the summer and are extremely interested in acquiring Boateng’s services. The Italian international was a crucial figure with the Turin giants and thus far, new loan-signing Benedikt Howedes has been unable to match his impact.

Germany v Argentina: 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final

Inter currently have a capable partnership in the centre of defence in Brazilian veteran Joao Miranda and rising talent Milan Skriniar. However, the prospect of signing one of the world’s finest is incredibly alluring for the Nerazzurri and they will look to pursue the stalwart, should he become available.

The 2014 World Cup winner’s contract is set to expire at the end of the 2020-21 campaign, giving Bayern time to tie the superstar down and to attempt to quench his thirst for travel.

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Out of Favour Inter Striker Gabriel Barbosa Wanted Back by Brazilian Club Santos

Inter Milan’s Gabriel Barbosa – also known as Gabigol – is wanted back by the club that let him go, Santos, who are in talks to bring back the Brazilian forward as the player seeks more playing time. 

Barbosa arrived at Inter from Santos in the summer of 2016 for the fee of €33.5m, but has struggled to establish himself in the Italian team.

According to Globoesporte (via ?Football Italia), Brazilian club Santos are willing to take back the striker, but will require for Inter to cover the large proportion of his wages. 

Since his arrival, Barbosa has yet ?to start a single Serie A game, which prompted a loan move to Benfica. However, even at Benfica he has faced the same struggles to find playing time, only clocking 43 minutes across competitions for the Portuguese side. 

Santos v Internacional - Brasileirao Series A 2015

it is likely that Benfica are to cut Barbosa’s loan contract short in January, meaning that he’ll have to return to Inter Milan. Though, Luciano Spalletti will struggle to find a place for him in his competitive side who currently leads the Serie A. 

The only way out for the 21-year-old Brazilian is for another loan move, but this time to a more familiar place, Santos. Chinese side Jiangsu Suning are also vying for Barbosa, though the player isn’t keen on a move to China.

Before his big move to a European team, at Santos Barbosa scored 24 goals across 83 appearances for the Brazilian side, and will hope to return to recapture the form that once sent European clubs sniffing for his talents.

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Bologna Winger Dispels January Exit Rumours Amidst Inter & Napoli Interest

?Bologna winger Simone Verdi has assured fans that he won’t be leaving Bologna in January, a statement set to disappoint Inter and Napoli, who have a registered interest in the Italian.

The winger has been showing his talents this season, including his ability to use both feet equally well, a feat he proved by scoring a free-kick with each in the same match against Crotone in November.

Bologna FC v Spal - Serie A

“I am definitely not leaving Bologna in January, as I want to end the season here,” Verdi told Sky Sport Italia, as reported by ?Football Italia.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m staying for several more years, but I am happy here.”

Having progressed through the Milan youth academy, the 25-year-old has two senior caps for Italy due to his performances for Bologna, having accumulated five goals and four assists so far this season in the Serie A.

His statement will be disappointing to Inter and Napoli fans, who would want the talented winger at their club, as the two clubs battle it out for the top spot in the Serie A alongside Juventus.

However, whilst Inter and Napoli are vying for Verdi’s signature, Verdi’s eventual destination may hinge on other factors simply that his own talent. 

First of all, Inter already have two capable set-piece taking midfielders in the form of Antonio Candreva and Marcelo Brozovic.

Genoa CFC v SSC Napoli - Serie A

Napoli could be the more likely to acquire Verdi, as Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne, both of which would compete with Verdi in the Napli side, have been linked with moves away from Naples and would prompt the club to bring in a replacement.

Whether he leaves the club in January or the summer, it’s likely that Simone Verdi is destined for a place in the side of a top European club eventually.

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No Way, Jose! 5 Excuses Mourinho Has Given for His Teams’ Failures Over the Course of His Career

Jose Mourinho loves pointing fingers at the end of a match that hasn’t gone his way and has an almost compulsive tendency to do so whenever he is asked to respond for his actions. 

Throughout his long and successful career as a manager, the self-styled ‘Special One’ has proved to have plenty of good qualities – from his visionary strategies to his ability to establish a personal connection with his players – but taking the blame isn’t really one of them. 

As his Manchester United suffered one of the most painful defeats of the season, hosting Manchester City at the Old Trafford for the derby, a reasonable person would think he would show up at the post-match presser with the tail between his legs. 

But he’s Mourinho, and we should bare in mind that the ‘Special One’ is never at fault. This weekend it was Michael Oliver who caught most of the blame, while the footballing Gods almost got a mention. 

Here’s a throwback to some of Mourinho’s most unusual and hilarious scapegoats.

5. Fans

During his years at Real Madrid, Mourinho had two main things to complain about: Barcelona being favoured by the referees and Los Blancos’ own fans who, sometimes, did not show as much support as he would want. 

Only 300 supporters followed the Spanish giants on the short away trip to Rayo Vallecano – an unforgivable decision by Mourinho’s standards.

“If, like me, you have been here for two and a half years, you are used to the cold atmosphere here,” he groaned.

4. Floodlights

The Portuguese boss had one of his more memorable rants in the aftermath of Chelsea’s tough win over QPR in 2014 – calling into question the way the lighting system was handled.

Mourinho, who, let’s make this clear, had won the game, still had something to complain about when asked for. comment.

“I think the man responsible for the lights was in the same mood as the crowd, because everybody was sleeping,” he grumbled. “He took 20 minutes to understand that it was dark.”

3. Doctor Eva Carneiro

A furious Mourinho had Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro and her first-team physio in his sights, for daring to go onto the pitch to treat Eden Hazard during Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Swansea back in 2015.

However, the fallout of the incident may have surprised even Jose. Carneiro left her job shortly after being castigated by Mourinho and received a large settlement from Chelsea in a tribunal.

Mourinho who appeared to argue with Gibraltarian Carneiro during the Swansea game, said after the match: “My medical department left me with eight fit outfield players in a counter attack after a set piece and we were worried we didn’t have enough players left.

“If you go to the pitch to assist a player, then you must be sure that a player has a serious problem. I was sure that Eden didn’t have a serious problem. He had a knock and was very tired”.

To compound the scandal for Mourinho, the Portuguese boss was sacked half way during the season and Chelsea ended tenth.

2. Journalists, TV Pundits & Critics in General

The list is long. Mourinho has always loved to use the media as the scapegoat for his mistakes. 

Last February, for example, he told a journalist: “Well if you don’t know football, you shouldn’t be with the microphone in your hand.”

Another time, he was interviewed on Sky Sport, and claimed that the broadcasting channel had no pundits supporting Chelsea and way too many on Liverpool’s side. 

1. Referees

Just like on Sunday, Mourinho tends to often point his finger towards the match officials, in order to distract from his own team’s failings.

During his first months at Manchester United he was fined £58,000 for questioning a referee during a draw with Burnley and has still hasn’t moved on. 

He told cameras after another game: “I don’t want to speak more about refereeing decisions because if I speak, I’m punished and I don’t want to be punished.

“You know clearly that I’m different. I’m different. The rules for me are different.”

In recent times, here’s what he said after losing to Real Madrid earlier this summer: “I think we did well. We lost 2-1 which, I think, shows the result was really short, and one of the goals was offside so with a good VAR it would be 1-1 and extra time.”