Udinese’s Europa League campaign starts here. We have Siroki Brijeg (a Bosnian side that barely disposed of a Kazakhstani side in the previous round) to contest with first in the third qualifying round. One would think the Bosnians shouldn’t prove too much of a problem for this Zebrette side, but if pre-season so far is anything to go by, we’re going to make hard work of it.
So, let’s take a trip south through the Balkan states…
The lineups should be as follows:
Siroki Brijeg (4-2-3-1): Bilobrk; Blaic, Spikic, Jese, Barisic; Landeka, Ivankovic; Coric, Wagner, Zakaric; Kordic.
Udinese (3-4-2-1): Kelava; Heurtaux, Danilo, Domizzi; Basta, Pinzi, Allan, Gabriel Silva; Pereyra, Muriel; Di Natale.
What probably has not escaped notice is that our line-up, which is our strongest and the one we’ve mainly been using throughout pre-season, is virtually the same as our strongest line-up last season. This indicates that the new players aren’t considered starting material yet, which isn’t a surprise as we’ve bought a lot of young players.
The one difference is Kelava due to the Brkic injury. We have Maicosuel and Vydra on the bench, but perhaps surprisingly no Zielinski.
Our best squad has been fielded to try and ensure a positive result. It gives us practice in the manner of a pre-season game, against the opponents in Siroki, while also hopefully closing this round out of our minds allowing us to concentrate on the start of the league. Speaking of which, if we do make it through, the first weekend is going to be sandwiched by either leg of the play-off round before the group stages, which will mean three matches inside a week…
The Serie A 2013-14 fixture list has been released, and this is how it looks for Udinese for the opening half. It’s pretty brutal from week 8 to week 15, with only Sassuolo and Catania providing some respite, although both of those matches are away. Harsh indeed, but we better make the best of it.
1. Lazio (A)
2. Parma (H)
3. Bologna (H)
4. Chievo (A)
5. Genoa (H)
6. Atalanta (A)
7. Cagliari (H)
8. Milan (A)
9. Roma (H)
10. Sassuolo (A)
11. Inter (H)
12. Catania (A)
13. Fiorentina (H)
14. Juventus (A)
15. Napoli (A)
16. Torino (H)
17. Livorno (A)
18. Verona (H)
19. Sampdoria (A)
Read on for transfer news and further thoughts…
Udinese are up to sixth after a convincing 3-1 victory against Sampdoria last Sunday. A double from Toto Di Natale confirmed his return to goalscoring form, and the Zebrette have now made it five wins on the trot.
The coming set of fixtures takes place midweek (tomorrow, now this has been posted on the Tuesday) with Udinese facing Palermo. One side’s fighting for survival in Italy’s premier division; the other’s in a scrap for European qualification. There remains a possibility – however remote – that the Friulani could finish fourth (which in previous seasons would’ve meant qualification for the Champions League play-offs; of course, now it means a mere playoff berth for the Europa League group stages). It’s unlikely, considering current fourth placed team Fiorentina are four points ahead, with three games to play. Some would say it’s impossible, but I like to harbour these unrealistic hopes.
1400 GMT at Stadio Friuli
Udinese (3-4-2-1): Padelli; Benatia, Angella, Domizzi; Basta, Allan, Pinzi, Pasquale; Pereyra, Maicosuel; Di Natale
Torino (4-4-2): Gillet; D’Ambrosio, Glik, G. Rodriguez, Masiello; Cerci, Brighi, Gazzi, Santana; Barreto, Meggiorini
Regarding streams, I am using, or trying to use atdhe.net (atdee.net as it is currently known). There are probably better streams out there but I’m rather at the mercy of what my computer can take. It’s an old’un. The stream is in English.
We go into the weekend tie in ninth place, five points ahead of our opposition on Sunday, Torino. We’re playing at the Friuli, where we’ve been very difficult to beat.
With the travesty of last Sunday, the coach at least has managed to put it behind him and focus on this weekend. I think the best way to look at what happened is to consider that we effectively drew the match. Forget the rules and regulations, by the spirit of the game we came away with a point. It might be little consolation but it is just one point, and taking into account where we are in the table, there shouldn’t be too much consequence. It was only the fool Valeri… (Sometimes dismissing someone entirely is as damning as lynching them.)
We have a short list of people missing this weekend, including Brkic, Lazzari and Danilo, the latter suspended because of the Milan game. Muriel is a slight doubt. We should continue with our 3-5-1-1. The good news is Benatia is back, bolstering the defence just in time with Danilo’s suspension.
If we can get a win here it could be a decisive hingeing point in the season. It would be nice to see us get a real roll going and push into the European places. Although I get the feeling from the squad that we are already punching above our weight, and will probably do only what is sufficient to be safely in ‘upper’ mid-table. Hopefully if all the new faces can settle in and stay around next season, Guidolin can begin to craft a great squad that can take us back up towards the CL positions.
The lineup will be posted closer to the match. Let’s get one over Paulo Barreto and co…
Hello all readers. The Udinese blog is back after over a year. To be honest it feels like longer but I suppose it’s been a rather eventful year for me; so much has happened, I’ve moved home, I’ve changed my life, and at last it seems my thoughts have turned back to the Udinese blog. There was a certain doubt in my mind over whether I’d return, but seeing as the Offside is virtually dormant now with the move to SB Nation, I thought why not? Stir up some interest in the Offside perhaps. General stuff and transfer news after the jump.
Udinese look to continue their excellent form as we head on into the second third of the season. Great wins over Roma and Inter of late have confirmed this side’s credentials for another top four finish. This weekend they play host to Chievo, and a win could potentially – although unlikely – take us back to the top of the table. The Friulani maintain a one hundred percent home record – played six; won six.
As a matter of interest, here are our Serie A scorers so far this term:
Di Natale 9
Di Natale is monopolising the scoring charts as always. Isla is in excellent form, while we have defenders coming up with goals as well (which is part of what’s making them so good this season).
We have the best defence in the league, conceding only six times. The second best defence is Lazio’s – leaking nine goals. It will be a matter of interest to see if Udinese can continue this all season. Well, let’s damn hope they can!
On the return from the international break, Udinese head to Bergamo to face the returned Atalanta. Both sides have made excellent starts to the campaign, but it is the Bianconeri that sit high in the table, as Atalanta’s points penalty has somewhat dampened their impact in the early part of the season.
In this week of the international break, I thought I’d take the opportunity to write a post removed from the usual match build-up/aftermath affair, and turn the spotlight on to a quite promising, if little known, primavera player.
Damiano Ferronetti has returned to the Udinese squad, after missing all of last season – and chunks of the one before – courtesy of a crippling knee injury. The twenty-six year old defender is a very welcome ‘addition’ to the back line that has actually proved quite strong so far this year. We’ve leaked just one goal in five Serie A games. That’s right: one! Nevertheless, Damiano feels like a new signing.
Serie A stops for a week now so that international matches may be played. It comes at the right time really. Yes, we are on a very good early season run and we don’t want to lose that momentum, but we are missing a few players (Ferronetti was one of them), and the current starting lineup could probably do with a little relief. It’s been virtually unchanged since the first day. Absentees like Floro Flores and Pasquale are on their way back, and hopefully they’ll be in place for the shortish trip to Bergamo a week and a half from now. That said I don’t think Guidolin will change the squad too much because, after all, we are flying high right now.