After putting up back to back wins against Torino and Viktoria Plzen, Inter had a chance to head into this month’s international break on a solid streak of winning after a rough start to the season. However, after squandering an early lead in Udine, it seems that those woes will continue into October.
Udinese and manager Andrea Sottil have a good thing going on in Friuli. Their attack is anchored by Gerard Deulofeu and Beto while Destiny Udogie and Roberto Pereyra roam the wings. Being only in domestic competitions and having the start to the season that they have had, Udinese have had very little to change about their approach.
With Hakan Calhanoglu out and Romelu Lukaku still yet to return, Simone Inzaghi partnered Edin Dzeko with Lautaro Martinez while Henrikh Mkhitaryan slotted into the midfield. Francesco Acerbi started for a second consecutive match while Samir Handanovic returned in goal.
UDINESE (3-5-2): Silvestri; Perez, Becao, Bijol; Pereyra, Lovric, Wallace, Makengo, Udogie; Deulofeu, Beto.
INTER (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, Acerbi, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Mkhitaryan, Darmian; Dzeko, Lautaro.
Inter managed to start the match about as well as anyone could have wanted. Just five minutes in, Nicolo Barella smashed a beauty of a free kick into the top corner from distance. An early lead against an in-form side surely could have set Inter up to take care of business.
Much like the derby against Milan, Inter responded to going up a goal by immediately getting overrun in the midfield. Udinese got to every ball first and turned the affair into one way traffic. This type of pressure is something that no defense in the world can withstand. When no one ahead of the defense can stop anything, it is only a matter of time before the bending turns to breaking. The break came just after the 20 minute mark, with Milan Skriniar deflecting a Pereyra free kick into his own net.
The Udinese goal caused Simone Inzaghi to panic. His changes made on 30 minutes, perhaps the earliest non-injury subs since de Boer brought off Geoffrey Kondogbia against Bologna in September of 2016, hooked off Mhkitaryan and Alessandro Bastoni, both of which were on yellow cards.
The inclusions of Roberto Gagliardini and Federico Dimarco did little to change the tides of the match, although the visitors did manufacture a potential of half chances. Despite the chaos, Inter managed to get the match to halftime at 1-1.
Inter had a few chances to retake the lead early in the half, one of which being a header from Denzel Dumfries that bounced narrowly over the crossbar. Dzeko put the ball in the back of the net shortly after, but was ruled offside.
Another double switch after the hour mark disrupted the team again, with Danilo D’Ambrosio and Joaquin Correa entering the match for Dzeko and Matteo Darmian. The hosts began to wrestle back control of the match after this point.
Ten minutes later, Deulofeu hit the post with a shot that was watched by Handanovic, setting off a flurry of chances that eventually got cleared. Chances began to rain down from Udinese, with only Handanovic keeping a few out.
Seven minutes from time, disaster finally struck. A corner from Deulofeu found the head of Jaka Bijol, who had the time and space to direct the ball into the net. Inter rushed for an equalizer, but instead allowed a third goal just seconds from the end of added time as Tolgay Arslan headed home from close range while unmarked. Capping a disastrous Inter performance.
Handanovic – 5: Left out to dry by the team in front of him, but also continuing to show signs of his age. Nothing to get outraged about, this is his level now, and he had no help.
Skriniar – 4.5: With the defense changing at least four times in the match, it would be hard to ask any defender in the world to perform in that situation. The own goal did little to help the situation as well.
Acerbi-5: Seems to be the one that understands whatever it is that Inzaghi is trying to do with the defense the most. May be the regular starter in the middle of the three sooner rather than later.
Bastoni – 4.5: Taken off absurdly early after his yellow and the goal. The card was a bad one to take, but when you need to score goals, this is who should be on the pitch.
Dumfries – 5.5: Created some chances, narrowly missed a goal, and was good against Udogie. Decent.
Mkhitaryan – 4: Did not start well but did not get the chance to reverse it. Also subbed early.
Brozovic – 5: Still covers a lot of the pitch, but with the lack of possession Inter can get in the midfield in buildup, it is fair to wonder what has happened to the authority he usually has on the midfield.
Barella – 5.5: Continued improvement after the Torino goal. Too bad it came in a terrible all around match for the team. Great goal.
Darmian-5: I have made my stance clear. The left side is not his strong side and he should not be playing over there. I don’t know how Robin Gosens could do any worse.
Lautaro – 5: Rather anonymous for large parts of the match. Did his usual work but the team could have used a spark from him.
Dzeko – 5.5: Continuing to look like a good striker, just with his body a little slower than his mind.
Gagliardini – 5: Standard from him when he came on. Also another player that is becoming outraged over now feels stale. This is who he is. For whatever reason, Inzaghi seems to like it as well.
Dimarco – 4.5: Did not offer anything that Bastoni could not have. Partially to blame for the last goal, although all hope was lost by then.
D’Ambrosio – 5: Honestly not sure what this change was trying to accomplish. Shuffled the defense further.
Correa – 4: Offered little when he came on. Hard to remember a moment he did anything on the pitch.
de Vrij – N/A
Inzaghi – 0.5: Managed like he had never been in the technical area for a match of football in his life. Same issues that he has yet to fix, plus his substitutions sucked the life out of anything the team had going. Arguably the worst single managerial performance in the past 5 years at least.
The Nerazzurri will have an entire international break to sit with this result and figure out what in the world is happening right now. The team looks out of it and the manager looks scared. Nevertheless, if anyone has made it this far in the article, please do something to enjoy your upcoming weekends that are free of Inter. The time away will be good for everyone. We will see you back in October for the next chapter of this long season.
Forza Inter, as always.