SerieA: Udinese 1-3 Inter, UCL hopes reignited for Inter
After the bore draw against Fiorentina last weekend Inter’s chances of securing the third place finish were almost finished but just a few days later the Nerazzurri proved their credentials by securing an important away win at the Stadio Friuli against Udinese. This combined with both Lazio and Roma losing their matches means that Inter are now in sixth place on equal points with fifth place Udinese, both having 52 points just three points behind third placed Lazio with both teams yet to play against the Biancocelesti in the last four games of the season.
A much needed win and it all happened in the first half of the match with Udinese going on the offensive from the kickoff they were rewarded early on when defender Danilo struck a wonderful shot from the edge of the area that flew past Julio Cesar and ricocheted off the upright to cross the line and put the Bianconeri ahead.
The advantage didn’t last long for the home side though as just four minutes later the Nerazzurri hit them on the counter attack resulting in Wesley Sneijder hitting a shot from the edge of their area, the shot wasn’t the greatest ever but as it bounced across the box and Samir Handanovic dived to save it the ball bobbled through his hands and trickled in to the back of the net levelling the score again.
In the 28th minute Diego milito brought the ball in to the Udinese box getting past both Danilo and Mehdi Benatia before sending a low pass across the goal mouth just leaving Sneijder to run on to it and chip it over the onrushing Handanovic in to the top corner of the net. 1-2 to Inter with Wesley Sneijder making his mark and showing the doubters that he should still be in the starting eleven.
After the second goal Udinese didn’t seem quite so confident and with eight minutes of the first half to go Fredy Guarin released Ricky Alvarez in to the box, tricky Ricky then showed his great skill to take the ball past Danilo who was no match for him before firing a right footed shot past Handanovic to the bottom far post corner.
Udinese didn’t give up though and two minutes before half time as they attacked the Nerazzurri goal Yuto Nagatomo caused controversy by getting away with a handball just inside the area. The players and the fans were up in arms when the referee and linesman refused to acknowledge that it should’ve been a penalty and so the first half ended with Inter leading three goals to one.
The second half turned out to be a different game than the first with Udinese taking control for the most part, pinning the Inter players back in their own half for long periods of time but down some great defending by the visitors they still were denied many chances on goal. When they did get through on goal Julio Cesar was in outstanding form stopping everything the Bianconeri threw at him, including a fantastic stop of a powerful short-range effort by Kwadwo Asamoah and then immediately getting down to thwart Antonio Di Natale’s even closer range rebound shot.
Inter’s best chance of the second half fell to Sneijder who missed out on his hat-trick when his shot went just wide of the post from the edge of the area. Udinese still fought on to try and secure at least another goal and even forced Julio Cesar to make a world-class save when Antonio Floro Flores fired a point-blank range shot at the Inter goal. It just wasn’t meant to be for Udinese and after a massive six minutes stoppage time, due to a bad collision between stand-in captain Dejan Stankovic and Floro Flores, Inter secured their first away victory under Andrea Stramaccioni’s guidance.
This win against the Udine side may prove to be the most important of the season and it also marked a switch of formation for Stramaccioni’s men, instead of playing his usual 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 he opted for another one of my preferred set ups and one that had been tried several times under Claudio Ranieri, the 4-3-2-1. This was possibly a risky strategy for Inter’s caretaker coach as this formation had failed miserably under his predecessor but today it worked fantastically with the whole squad playing as a united unit.
In his formation Stramaccioni wisely chose his number one between the posts and Julio Cesar proved today that he is still one of the world’s best shotstoppers, making several crucial saves and thoroughly deserves to be my man of the match for this game.
The defensive line was lacking captain Javier Zanetti and Cristian Chivu, both of which had picked up injuries in the Fiorentina match. Maicon played well as rightback making some important forward runs up the flank and defending well when called upon. Lucio was solid in the center and for a change spent a large proportion of the match in his defensive position. Our other central defensive spot was taken by Andrea Ranocchia who has been criticized heavily recently for not performing to his potential, in this game however it has to be said that he played well and was defensively solid against most Udinese attacks. Left back Yuto Nagatomo had obviously been told to stay in position as he didn’t make as many forward runs as we’re used to seeing, the trouble is he was by far the weakest defender in the Inter lineup and as much as I’ve always championed him even I am starting to think he will never be a great leftback.
The three man midfield consisted of Fredy Guarin on the right who despite making a few stray passes and losing the ball a few times, especially in the first half, had a good game and created the initial play that led to Ricky Alvarez’s goal. Playing in the center was stand-in captain Dejan Stankovic, he spent the game sat much deeper than the other midfielders and even though he made a few sloppy challenges I have to admit he played a good game covering the defence and connecting the play upfield. Esteban Cambiasso played on the left of the three and in my opinion had a fairly unremarkable game doing what needed to be done but he just didn’t stand out among his teammates.
The attacking midfield of Wesley Sneijder and Ricky Alvarez were fantastic, both of them getting on the scoresheet and before getting substituted later on in the game they were both by far the most influential players in the Inter lineup. It was great to see Sneijder playing more like the player he used to be and his two goals were more than deserved. Alvarez too deserved his goal and it should hopefully help to build his confidence even more and help him grow in to the great player I know he can be.
Finally at the spearhead, as usual, was Diego Milito who made a great play to assist Sneijder’s second goal but was unable to add to his season tally of 20 league goals. He didn’t by any means have a bad game but he didn’t have the influence on the match or over his teammates that has become almost expected of him.
All three substitutions that Stramaccioni made were done in my opinion as a defensive tactic to hold on to our lead and maybe also to save the legs of Sneijder, Alvarez and Milito who were removed to be replaced by Joel Obi, Mauro Zarate and Andrea Poli at different times during the last half an hour of the game.
A great result for Inter leaving them very much still in the fight for the last Champions league qualifying place. On Sunday Inter take on Cesena at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza which hopefully should be a fairly easy three points for us and if Udinese draw with Lazio on the same day, Inter could move up to fourth or fifth place and be just at most just two points from third with three games left to play.
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Posted on April 25, 2012, in Serie A and tagged Alvarez, Cambiasso, Cesar, Football, Guarin, Inter, Lucio, Maicon, Milito, Nagatomo, Nerazzurri, Obi, Poli, Ranocchia, Serie A, Sneijder, Stankovic, Stramaccioni, Udinese, Zarate. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.