Udinese impressed in their 3-1 victory over league leaders Inter. Charles Onwuakpa analyses where the game was won and lost.
Massimo Oddo’s side put in a resilient performance, as second half goals from Rodrigo De Paul and Antonin Barak gave the Friuli club all three points.
Inter started the game well and created a few early chances through their wingers, especially Antonio Candreva, who was Inter’s most dangerous player.
Udinese sat deep in a 5-3-1-1 shape, looking to burst forward on the counter with Kevin Lasagna and Jakub Jankto, while Seko Fofana played as a holding midfielder.
This allowed Udinese to negate central spaces in which Inter could penetrate, as well as having a spare man in midfield.
When Udinese could build from the back, they switched to a 4-4-2 system, with Silvan Widmer offering attacking support on the right flank.
The visitors managed to create overloads on that flank and caught Davide Santon in possession on the 14th minute: the full-back failed to clear the ball and gifted it to Widmer, whose cross found an unmarked Lasagna just outside the six-yard box.
The lead didn't last long, though, as three minutes later Candreva whipped in a perfect cross for Mauro Icardi’s 17th goal of the season (a fantastic half-turn finish).
Inter looked galvanized from the goal and created more chances, mainly through crosses and set-pieces.
Udinese, on the other hand, were lively on the ball and looked dangerous on the break, but always lacked the final pass.
The second half could have been much worse for Inter, as Kevin Lasagna ran past Inter’s defence in the 47th minute, but somehow sky-rocketed his shot in front of goal (a clear-cut chance).
Udinese were very good at negating central spaces, while Inter’s tendency to play through the wings meant that there weren't enough bodies between the line.
From a mental aspect, Inter looked confused and weakened from their midweek clash against Pordenone.
They still created a couple of chances (the best was probably Milan Skriniar’s header which hit the woodwork), but Udinese managed to absorb the pressure and burst forward. Widmer’s cross hit Santon’s left arm, and after a long consultation with the VAR, Rodrigo De Paul restored the visitors’ lead after about an hour of play.
Spalletti decided to add more protection in midfield, as Marcelo Brozovic made way for Roberto Gagliardini. Nevertheless, Inter switched to an ultra-offensive 3-4-2-1, as the French youngster Yannick Karamoh came on for a very poor Santon.
Udinese soon took advantage of the change with a perfect example of route-one football in the 77th minute: Albano Bizzarri’s goal-kick found Lasagna in the air; his flick was chested down by De Paul, who layed it off to Jankto. The latter’s cross picked out Barak at the far post for the final score of 1-3.
The goal is also a perfect example of Inter’s passiveness and ball-watching approach, especially on second and third balls.
This was a very intense encounter and a positive performance from the visitors, who have enjoyed a good run of form under their new Coach Massimo Oddo. It was also surprising to see his team play such reactive football, considering his previous coaching philosophy at Pescara.
On the other hand, this was a setback for Luciano Spalletti’s men: despite having more ball possession (66%), total shots (26) and shots on target (eight), most of their chances came from crosses and set-pieces, which were not enough to rescue a point.