Football Italiano’s 500@five – The troubles at Udinese

Udinese’s draw with Parma on Sunday meant that the team has now won only one game in their past nine.

The Friulani have had a highly disappointing season thus far and have registered only five victories this campaign. To add to their troubles the team has scored a paltry 20 goals, 12 of which have come through Serie A top scorer, Antonio Di Natale. Apart from Di Natale, the rest of the team has really struggled and Coach Giovanni De Biasi will be hoping that the squad’s fortunes turn around soon else he too may be in danger of losing his job. The weekend game against Parma typified their season, as despite playing against 10 men for more than an hour, the Bianconeri failed to create any real chances. Udinese are now in 15th place, 10 points off the European places which is very surprising for a team of their quality.

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Last season they were the sole Italian survivors in Europe after the team had battled to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup. They lost out to eventual finalists Werder Bremen but had nonetheless given a good account of themselves in the competition with victories over Tottenham Hotspur and Zenit St Petersburg. Pasquale Marino had built a solid side but Fabio Quagliarella’s departure seems to have really left the Zebrette in a precarious position. Their play lacks incisiveness and that impedes the team whilst going forward. Di Natale needs someone to play alongside him regularly. Antonio Floro Flores has scored five times this season however he suffers from bouts of inconsistency and is not a reliable option to partner Di Natale up front.

The midfield is very solid with Simone Pepe, Gaetano D’Agostino and Gokhan Inler forming one of the best combinations in the middle of the park. The defensive unit is also strong with Andrea Coda, Aleksandar Lukovic and Cristian Zapata certainly being no pushovers. Slovenian Samir Handanovic is also pretty good between the sticks. There seems to be no apparent reason to justify the position Udine finds itself in currently. In fact, the team registered impressive victories against Milan, Genoa and Roma earlier this season and only narrowly lost against Inter and Juventus. So the potential in the team is clearly evident yet as things stand there are obvious problems for the Coach.

De Biasi took over at the Friuli in the winter break and will have to find a way to reinvigorate his slipping side. The next set of fixtures for the team will be crucial as they will take on the likes of Sampdoria, Genoa, Milan and Inter. If the Zebrette continue with their dismal performances they are likely to get dragged into the murky relegation battle. What will be more worrying for President Giampaolo Pozzo will be the predictable talent drain from his side should the team fail to fight its way out of the current mess. There have been many sides in the past who have been enormously talented but have panicked when involved in a battle for survival so Udinese will hope that they get through this difficult period as soon as they can.

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