Ding to reopen the scudetto. Edin Dzeko’s one-hit header gives Inter the three points, snaps Napoli’s unbeaten run and reopens the battle for the title, with all opponents earning points over Napoli still top. But the first big game of 2023 sends a clear message: woe to Inter (who are back at -8 from the top) and woe to considering everything easy for Napoli, even if they maintain their five-point lead over Milan. At the San Siro filled with more than 75,000 spectators, the Nerazzurri captained by Simone Inzaghi played their best live game of the season, creating (and wasting) so much and suffering so little, that the only chance for Spalletti’s men came rightfully in the final. Raspadori introduced. The problem for Dzeko and his cohorts always remains the truth, because the decisive goal for the Bosnian striker comes after no less than three exciting missed chances by Dimarco, Darmian and Lukaku that are still far from their best. Thus, the resumption of the championship after the World Cup immediately harms Napoli, which sees its unbeaten streak in it: in fact, this season the defeat in the championship has not yet arrived, and the last knockout has arrived on April 24, 2022. And what could happen. It was a different evening than it had been in the previous months for the Napolitans, and this was immediately understood, because Inter put the Napoli defense under pressure from the first minutes. A rocket start for the Nerazzurri, who immediately came close to taking the lead with Dimarco blasting home a close range finish from Lukaku’s pass. Napoli tries to take the match, closing Inter to take advantage of the Belgian’s speed in the second half. A successful move, because Spalletti’s team can’t find a gap while the hosts are still close to scoring with Darmian, whose right foot from inside the area hits over the crossbar. The timid reaction of the Neapolitans is all on Zelenskiy’s sloppy right foot from the edge, and the Inter defense are not worried. In attack, however, it’s always all about Lukaku, but the Belgian isn’t so into the evening, that he wastes a fantastic back-heel assist from Barella by kicking it high. The scenario did not change in the second half, because Napoli did not worry about Onana’s goal. What changes is that, on innumerable occasion, Inter pass: Mkhitaryan releases Dimarco, cross for Dzeko who exploits Rrhamani’s sleep to open the score with a header from close range. Napoli tries to react and raise the center of gravity, with the first (and only) flash from Kvaratskhelia whose left foot from inside the area finds nothing but the outside of the net. Spalletti plays the cards of Raspadori and Simeone trying to give more power to the attack, on the other hand Inzaghi chooses new world champion Lautaro Martinez to replace Lukaku who is far from the best condition. Thus, in the final, Inter tried to resist tooth and nail, while Napoli raised the pressure, and the Nerazzurri needed the extraordinary Onana, who saved his right foot from Raspadori with a great reaction. But that’s the only danger Inter’s defense manages: San Siro celebrates at the final whistle, the championship now reopened.
Udinese brakes again. After the start of the race, which brought them to the leading group and made their fans dream, the Friuli team stumbled and has now not won for eight days, during which it collected 2 defeats and 6 draws today (1-1) with the strong-willed Empoli. The Tuscans resisted until 20 minutes from the end, when Pereira caught them again, then erected a bulwark to defend the point where all ten remained. On his 49th birthday, Sottil had to part with the hitherto uncompensated Bijol and Deulofeu, who did not sit on the bench. In their place is Ebosse and Success. Zanetti responds by immediately firing Caputo, who only arrives on January 1st, to join the talented and feisty Satriano. It is precisely the striker who has just returned to Tuscany who serves Baldanzi with the help of the lead, after only 150 seconds. After running to the edge of the offside, he grabbed the attacking midfielder, left alone with a feeling of guilt on the edge of the small area: his shot hit Silvestri and silenced Dacia Arena. Worse, 2023 can’t even get started for realtors who are feeling squeamish. We had to wait until the 23rd minute for the first real chance to equalize: on Arslan’s cross from the left, Beto was bullied, but his goal was missed. The offensive pressure increased, and in the 29th minute it was Wallace who flirted with the post to the right of Vicario with a counterattack. A few moments pass and it is Arslan who assists Udogie: the Turkish-German shoots from a few metres. In the 39th minute, Pereira takes over the chair: a right-footed shot from the edge and only miraculously by Vicario (who lives in Udine with his family) evades the goal. Already diving, the goalkeeper manages to deflect towards the post with his catch-up hand. The recovery starts with the same scenario: the Udinese and Empoli forwards are always ready to shoot from the throw-in. In the fifth minute, success breaks through 16 meters, but it doesn’t end far. The pressure becomes stifling and it becomes a siege with shots and rebounds, but the Friulians only collect corners in a series. Sottil Samardzic throws into the fray for Arslan in an effort to increase his scoring ability. The draw, which you deserve, arrives in the 25th minute: another breach to the left by Udogie, who mediates and serves the fifth on the right, captain Tucu Pereyra, always very skillful in inserting, makes Vicario dry. Zanetti also went on to the bench in place of Marin and Satriano in place of Bandinelli and Bagrami, but the pressure from the Bianconeri always got the better of him and he never started again. 10′ from the end Empoli remained at 10: Udogie was literally impregnable and Akpa Apro had to spend his second yellow card to prevent him from entering the area again. The two coaches resort to a whirlwind of changes, but the result does not change, to the disappointment of the Friulian people and the joy of the 50 Tuscan fans who played a midweek game away from home, to return a point they deserve after all.
“Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator.”