The Serie A has its champion but for other than that it’s quite exciting. Udinese are trying to avoid relegation to the Serie B and needed to have a win to remain hopeful, while Inter needed the win to secure their spot in the top four, which sees them qualified for the Champions League. This Serie A fixture was interesting, but the points were shared between Udinese and Inter. We will explain in this tactical analysis.

In this tactical analysis supported by statistics, we will have a look at three tactical trends during this Serie A game. We will look at the formations of both teams, Inter’s attacking style of play and how Udinese’s midfield change frustrated Inter.


Line-ups of Udinese vs. Inter

The home team needed the points and Igor Tudor started with a 3-4-3 formation. His back three consisted of Nuytinck, Maio and Larsen. His four-man midfield was important going forward but also proved as the first line of defence when under attack by Inter.

Inter was in need of the points to secure the third place and hold off AS Roma and Atalanta in the process. Luciano Spalletti fielded a 4-2-3-1 formation with Martinéz as the sole striker. Spalletti organised his team with a four-man defence and low defensive block in the midfield of Brozović and Valero.

Inter’s attacking style of play

Inter had one task coming up against Udinese: winning the game. The 4-2-3-1 formation was not that spectacular going forward, but it gave Inter a certain defensive certainty.

Inter 4-2-3-1 formation

Inter was dominant in this game with more possession of the ball than Udinese (72% vs 28%). This only means something when Inter got something out of that possession. In this particular Serie A game, Inter had 21 shots. Twelve of them were from open play and nine were from set pieces. Inter doesn’t rely heavily on one way of attacking, but how did the attacks progress in open play during this game?

Each attack started from the back four. In the image below you can see how they were positioned and that the attack starts with the centre back. The full-backs Asamoah and D’Ambrosio are playing up the pitch with D’Ambrosio standing in the opponents’ half.

Inter’s back four in attacking mode

The defence was where it all started, but there were several options for Inter going forward in this Serie A game with a vital role for the centre backs. The first one was for the centre backs to play the long ball to the attacking players as you can see in the image below.

De Vrij plays a long ball to Politano

According to statistics by Wyscout, Inter played four long balls from their centre-backs with De Vrij playing three long balls to Perišić, D’Ambrosio and Politano. Another option for the centre-backs to build the Inter attack is to pass the ball to the full-backs.

D’Ambrosio making a run down the line

As you can see above, D’Ambrosio got the ball on the right and would make a run down the line. This would happen on both sides after the centre-backs made the pass into the full-backs or into the attacking midfielders.

Perišić with the cross and three players ready to attack it

Perišić crosses from the left and the Inter attacking players move forward to attack that cross and create a goalscoring opportunity. These were two distinctive ways for Inter to create goalscoring opportunities. Either with full-backs and attacking midfielders making runs down the line or playing the long ball from the centre-backs.

Udinese’s midfield set up

While Udinese needed the points, there were well aware of the fact that they needed to defend well to get something out of this game against Inter. They started in a 3-4-3 formation against Inter.

Udinese 3-4-3

Udinese played with a four-man midfield of Zeegelaar-Sandro-Mandragora-D’Alessando which had the task of neutralising the three attacking midfielders of Inter. They were set up as you can see on the image below.

Udinese four-man midfield during minutes 1-26

After 26 minutes Udinese changed their formation because they didn’t have a grip on Inter’s 4-2-3-1 formation and especially in the midfield there were problems for Udinese. The attacking style of play by Inter ripped their midfield apart, as you can see in the image below.

Udinese (yellow) struggling with the Inter (red) attacking players

They sought to alter this with a 3-5-2 formation, which they retained for the rest of the game. They put Lasagna and Pussetto up front as the strikers, while De Paul dropped down to join the midfield.

Udinese 3-5-2

The five-man midfield had a vital role in defence. When Inter had the ball, the midfield dropped down to assist the defence. In the image below you can see how the midfield dropped down and strengthen the defence.

Udinese’s five-man midfield in defence

When Inter went deeper into Udinese’s territory, the midfield broke down and the formation changed. It changed from a 3-5-2 formation to 5-3-2 formation with the wide midfielders Zeegelaar and D’Alessando dropping deep to create the five-man defence.

Udinese’s five-man defence

Their compact defending in both the defence and midfield made sure that Inter couldn’t create big chances and they kept the clean sheet on this day.

Final thoughts

Despite being dominant in this away game at Udinese, Inter could not make that into their advantage and this game ended in a draw. Inter had plenty of chances to get the win, but after Udinese changed their midfield, they frustrated Inter. A good result from the home side, but they probably won’t be satisfied as three points would have helped them more in their battle against relegation.