Ranieri: Udinese are amazing
Inter Milan coach Claudio Ranieri has been singing the praises of Saturday night's opponents Udinese as the struggling Italian giants prepare to host the surprise high-flyers at the San Siro.
Inter remain down in 15th place despite having just recorded two wins in a row - the first time this season they've managed such a feat. Their visitors, meanwhile, have had a fine start to the season and are currently third, just two points behind leaders Juventus.
And Ranieri is aware that his side will have to be wary of opponents who continue to punch above their weight season after season. "Udinese are competitors which is why they're up there, we want to get back up there," said Ranieri.
"Udinese are one of the amazing teams in Italian football, they're better than anyone else at keeping things tight and launching deadly counter-attacks. We'll have to be very careful and play with a lot of tactical acumen. I was very happy with our performance at Siena (a 1-0 success last time out).
"I wasn't happy with how we played in the last 20 metres but overall we played well and remained lucid right to the end to find the only right path and that's why I enjoyed the performance. Obviously, if we want to get back up to the top and to compete with the leaders, something notable will have to change. We're improving and I'm confident."
Despite selling two of their best players in the summer Udinese have managed to improve on last season, which they started poorly before recovering to finish fourth. And Ranieri is ensuring no-one takes them lightly. "This may be our toughest match of the year. Since I've been here this is the most important match for our future," he added.
Defeat would all but end any interest Inter have in fighting for the title as they already trail Juve by 12 points, albeit with a game in hand.
However, victory would at least ensure they have a chance of competing for a Champions League finish alongside the likes of Udinese, Lazio, Napoli and Roma.