Surprisingly trailing their opponents in the early Serie A standings, Inter Milan visit Udinese at the Dacia Arena on Sunday afternoon.
After a last-gasp win over Torino last week, the Nerazzurri sit a point behind the hosts, who have won each of their last four matches to equal their best start to a top-flight season.
With recent results placing pressure on Inter to produce points from two important games in the space of a few days, last season’s Serie A runners-up started off by snatching all three at home to Torino last Saturday.
Coming within minutes of being forced to settle for a draw by dogged opponents, a magical moment of inspiration between Nicolo Barella and goalscorer Marcelo Brozovic finally unlocked the visitors’ defence at San Siro, to earn a 1-0 win.
Simone Inzaghi’s side were then successful in getting off the mark in a competitive Champions League Group C, beating Czech champions Viktoria Plzen 2-0 to move third in a section which also features Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
Strikes from Denzel Dumfries and Edin Dzeko – who has now been involved in 20 goals from his last 21 appearances in Europe’s top competition – decided the game in the Nerazzurri’s favour on Tuesday, with Plzen going down to 10 men on the hour.
Inter have now won three of their last four away games in the Champions League, but now return to the Italian peninsula; travelling on to Udine, where they have enjoyed a great deal of success in recent years.
They remain undefeated by Sunday’s opponents since December 2017; also winning 11 and losing just two of their last 19 away games against them – the last such loss coming over nine years ago.
After an exceptional start to life under new coach Andrea Sottil, though, Udinese start the seventh round of a season above Inter in the table for the first time since 2014.
Indeed, the Bianconeri remain unbeaten since losing to Inter’s arch-rivals Milan on the opening day; picking up a total of 13 points from their league fixtures to date, which sees them occupying the dizzy heights of fourth spot after six matches.
They required deep reserves of patience to seal their most recent success, as they trailed to 10-man Sassuolo until the final 15 minutes last weekend, before striking three times through Beto’s brace and a neat Lazar Samardzic finish from just outside the box.
Winning 3-1 in Emilia-Romagna followed victory over Fiorentina and a remarkable 4-0 thumping of Roma; all of which has contributed to Udinese’s best start to a season in eight years.
They could now reach five consecutive wins in the top flight for the first time since 2017, and should they do so against Inter, Sottil would surely be a shoo-in for Serie A’s September ‘Manager of the Month’.
Udinese Serie A form:
Inter Milan Serie A form:
Inter Milan form (all competitions):
We say: Udinese 1-2 Inter Milan
Even if the game remains finely poised heading towards its conclusion, Inter and Udinese are the two teams with the most goals inside the final 15 minutes of play so far in Serie A (four) – and both scored during that period to win last week. Udinese are the form side, but Inter’s individual quality may still send the points their way.