Inter Milan and Udinese faced each other on the matchday 22 of Serie A. For Antonio Conte, it was important to keep pace with Juventus at the top of the table. This alone set high expectations for this game and how Inter Milan dealt with such pressure will be focused on in our tactical analysis. Udinese, on the other hand, sits at the 15th position with 24 points, 11 points from the Europa League spot. In our analysis, we will also explain Udinese’s tactics and show how Luca Gotti prepared for the game.
Antonio Conte made five changes to the team that played against Brescia with Padelli replacing Handanović in the goal, Moses replacing Biraghi, Vecino replacing Valero, Esposito replacing the suspended Martinez and the new signing Eriksen started his first game for Inter in place of Sensi. Inter lined up in 3-4-1-2 formation with the usual back three as De Vrij, Bastoni and Skriniar, Barella as the holding midfielder and acted as a pivot during the Inter’s build-up phase. In-form Lukaku and Esposito were chosen as the two center-forwards and Moses and Young as the wingbacks.
On the other hand, Luca Gotti decided to make only one change to the team that played in the 2-0 defeat against Parma. W. Troost-Ekong making way for S.De Maio. Udinese lined up in 5-3-2 formation and often shifted to 3-5-2 formation with possession. Sema and Larsen were chosen as the two wingbacks and both of them were deployed to the attack and to fall back to help the three centre backs while defending. Mandragora was in-charge of Udinese’s axis role and was the link between the backline and attacking midfielders.
Udinese defend, Inter attack
Udinese played in a low to mid defensive block with a fluid wide edge. Jens Stryger Larsen and Ken Sema provided the width from wing-back positions. Without possession for the significant periods of the game, Udinese were happy to drop into a deep block, providing little opposition to Inter’s ball progression in the central third.
In Udinese’s pass map, we can also see parts of their defensive tactics. The wing-backs additionally joined this line in the wide areas when Udinese held possession in order to attempt fast counter-attacks. Most of the Udinese’s attacks came from the left flank with Sema and Fofana often combining on the left flank.
In the image above we see one example involving the home side’s defensive play(5-3-2 formation), Udinese dropped into a deep block, providing little opposition to Inter’s ball progression. This involved the wing-backs dropping deep into a back five.
The problem with Udinese’s approach was that it allowed Inter’s left and right center-backs too much space on the ball, allowing them to roam forwards and deliver either the short passes or to switch the play. Here, we see Bastoni has so much time and space to pass the ball to either Ashley Young or Lukaku.
In addition to this, due to the Udinese’s lack of press, Inter were allowed to patiently build-up from the back. Calm in the buildup from the back, In the first half, Barella was in-charge of getting the first ball from the center-backs and was the link between the backline and the midfielders but in the second half Brozović was given that role and Barella played at the Eriksen’s position, i.e in between the lines
Inter’s Attacking midfielders and Super-subs
In this part of the analysis, we will see how Inter’s attacking midfielders influenced the game. Inter played with Eriksen and Vecino in the attacking midfield roles. The pair would often play in the half-spaces and got into the positions that they could play forwards from. Eriksen’s average positioning was a little higher than Vecino as he showed more willingness to support the attack and get ahead of the ball.
In the image above, we see Vecino operating in the half-space on the right-hand side and makes a positive run ahead of the ball into the penalty area. This positional play can be seen again in the below image but this time with Eriksen operating in the right half-space. As Vecino is positioned in between the lines. With this positioning and quick technical execution, Eriksen helps Inter progress the ball once again.
In the second half, Conte substituted Eriksen with Brozović and Esposito with Sanchez, Brozović played as the pivot and Barella shifted to Eriksen’s position and tried to exploit the half-spaces. Sanchez would often get narrow to create space for Barella. Conte’s substitution changed the entire complexion of the game.
Inter’s short passing and the wingbacks
One route in which Inter advanced the ball was through short, quick passing combinations. In the image below, we again see that Brozović had enough time and space to pass the ball to Barella due to the lack of pressure from Udinese.
During the attacking phase, Milan looked to exploit the full width of the field, pushing their wing-backs high and wide and stretching Udinese’s midfield. The two wing-backs, Young and Moses provided the width.
Here, we see Both Ashley Young and Moses providing the width at the flanks. The front-2 would get narrow to open up the spaces on the flanks with Eriksen playing in between the lines. Moses and Vecino often combined to create a 2v2 situation on the right flank.
Lukaku the Target Man and Inter’s pressing
In this game also, Inter tried to utilize the physicality of Lukaku in their build-up play, driving balls into the center of the field for him to hold up. he provided a focal point from which the rest of the team could construct attacks.
Here, we see Lukaku, providing an outlet for pressurized defenders or midfielders to play the pass to. This was a frequent component of Inter’s play. From these passes, Lukaku would typically play the ball wide to either his supporting forwards or the wing-backs, to transition the ball to the flanks for crossing opportunities. Lukaku would often drop deep into the false-9 position to hold up the ball.
In addition to the above, During the buildup phase of Udinese, Inter were pressing with 5 men and Eriksen was tasked to mark Mandragora who was in charge of receiving the first ball from the center-backs so as to cut off the passing lanes and forced Udinese to go either long or to pass the ball in the wide areas.
Udinese’s counter-attack and Wing-backs.
Without possession, Inter had a formation of 5-3-2, both the Inter’s wing-backs would drop deep in the defense to form a line of back-5. As mentioned earlier, Udinese’s wing-backs additionally joined the attack in the wide areas when Udinese held possession in order to attempt fast counter-attacks.
Udinese tried to use the pace of Fafana on the counter-attacks, he would often combine with Sema on the left flank. Most of the Udinese’s attacks came from the left flank.
Inter fans will no doubt be pleased with their side’s win against Udinese. The attacking tactics set out by Conte brilliantly bypassed Udinese’s defensive block, and the individual skill of the defensive players in his side were able to halt Udinese from scoring on the few opportunities they had. Conte’s side were incredibly well organized out of possession and made good decisions on when to counter, when to play forwards and when to keep the ball.
For Udinese, it was a disappointing result, they have now lost 12 games in this season, at times showed some excellent counter-attacking play but they struggled to break down a well-organized Inter side.