Udinese have had a nightmare fortnight in which they have suffered back to back defeats. The season prior to this had been superlative with Champions League qualification looking like real possibility. Now with six games to go, Coach Francesco Guidolin is adamant his team must react and do so immediately.
SportMediaset reported in Udinese’s press conference Guidolin had spoken of the importance of reacting to the defeats: “We must get back on track immediately. I don’t want any excuses from my players and I don’t think our recent setbacks will affect the team from a psychological point of view. We were naive against Roma but I’m sure my players will learn from the mistakes they made. I will speak to my players and we will work hard to prepare for a difficult game in Naples this weekend.”
The Zebrette lost 2-0 away to Lecce before facing Roma at home this weekend. This was a key game for both teams, dubbed as a head to head for fourth place. The game did not go according to plan for the home side, Alexis Sanchez did not make it past the warm up and retired with an injury. The pressure was getting to Udinese and they were reduced mainly to counter attacks, Giampiero Pinzi then gave away a penalty which Francesco Totti coolly converted. The game looked lost, until on 87th minute Antonio Di Natale grabbed a last gasp equaliser that seemed enough for a point – however, luck escaped the Zebrette as Totti broke the home crowds hearts by scoring the winner with the last kick of the game.
This result was a huge psychological blow for Udinese but Guidolin is determined not to let it affect his players, although it is difficult to see how it will not. Their next match is away at Napoli who at present are challenging for the title. The match will be held at the hostile San Paolo stadium and they are without their star man Alexis Sanchez. Gudolin’s rhetoric when pressed about this was less than positive: “I think it’ll be very difficult for Sanchez to recover in time for the extremely tough game”
The next problem for Udinese their fixture list, Guidolin is certain his players will react but this is more down to the fact he expects them to, simply because he wills it. The truth of the matter is, after the trip to Napoli, they have a winnable game against Parma, followed by tough matches against Fiorentina (away), Lazio (home), Chievo (away) and finally Milan (home). Whilst Guidolin may be confident, the truth is his squad look tired, Sanchez is injured, whilst Antonio Di Natale and Mauricio Isla are not fully fit, the play has been slower than it has been in previous games and they look like they may just be running out of steam.
Udinese’s season may just fall short of Champions League football this year but it does not take away the incredible success they have had so far. Francesco Guidolin may not agree with this, he believes in his team’s ability to bounce back and as history shows many great successes have been achieved from the will of one man.