Inter hosted Udinese on Sunday morning for what would be a fantastic match. Both teams having something to prove on the night it was an important match all round. Udinese where hoping to cause a stir, with the need for a victory ever so important only sitting 2 points outside of the elimination zone. Inter on the other hand was hoping to put behind them the disappointment of the previous weeks Champions League elimination. This would all be done in front of 57,000 Inter fans at the San Siro.
Spalletti knew that change was needed within the squad, in order to get their momentum back. He seemed to have finally had enough of the underperforming Perisic, choosing not to start the Croatian winger. Ultimately he would choose to select the inform Ketia Balde to start in his place. Other changes made to the team were Vrsaljko started in place of D’Ambrosio. Finally to no one’s surprise Joao Mario started in place of Candreva.
Inter started strong, applying the pressure and attacking right from the beginning. It did not take Inter long to show that they were here to win. Inter’s first big opportunity came from a set piece in the form of a corner. Politano swung the ball into the box, where it met the head of Icardi who directed it just past the keeper and goals. The chances only kept on flowing from that point onwards. Balde took advantage of a through ball from Valero hitting striking it first time, only for the keeper to save it. As half time approached, a very frustrated Inter would head into the break with the scores still remaining 0-0.
Inter started the second half continuing to push for that opening goal. But the first real chance of the half came from Udinese. A low cross went across the face of the goal only for it to be skied by Mandragora. It was the best opportunity of the match up until this point. Udinese continued to press, causing worry within the minds of the Inter fans. Nothing seemed to go right for Inter. When Balde put a perfect cross into the box, Icardi met the ball with his head and sent it wide. Again!
It appeared that Inter’s December curse had taken full swing and nothing was going to favour the hosts. That all seemed to change in the 76th minute. A corner from Brozovic was deflected by an Udinese hand, which the referee seemed to have initially missed. VAR intervened and the referee then awarded the penalty. Icardi, who hadn’t been able to get a shot on target all match, stepped up to take the spot kick. Strolling up to the ball and sending it right down the middle Pankenka style, he put Inter up 1-0.
This is what the score would remain for the rest of the match.
It was imperative that Inter came out of this match victorious. Having lost to Juventus and being eliminated from the Champions League, a victory was needed to improve morale. Spalletti changing the squad ensured that everyone knows that they position is not safe. Perisic was finally rested as is performances as of late did not meet the standards of Spalletti. Moving forward Inter is not out of the woods yet. They play the elusive last placed Chievo on the 23rd of December who always provides a challenge to Inter. Irrespective of their position on the table Inter cannot go into the match expecting a win. It will be hard fought.
A positive that Inter can take out of the match against Udinese was the return of Nainggolan. Having been injured for quite some time, it was refreshing to see him return to the pitch. Further this, with the schedule only getting more chaotic, the more players Inter have the better.
Man of the Match would have to Mauro Icardi.