Guidolin’s realism might not be strong enough to rein in Udine dreams

“The big clubs will put the table right soon enough”, stated Udinese Coach Francesco Guidolin after his team’s 3-0 victory over Novara saw them take sole ownership of the top spot. Amid times where the perceived big clubs have struggled for consistency, the Zebrette have been consistent in their approach and their club ethos continues to be vindicated. While Guidolin expects the perceived big clubs to regain their expected positions in the Serie A table, Udine tifosi are beginning to dream of an unlikely Scudetto challenge.
What makes such Scudetto ambitions unlikely is that while last season’s exploits saw them finish a surprising fourth place, any thoughts of a higher-placed finish to follow were immediately downplayed. The summer transfer window saw Udinese continue with their ideology of developing players before selling them on for profit. Such a set-up would usually dictate a team remaining in relative comfort while lacking progressive ideals and some have labelled the Udine club as unambitious for seemingly accepting such a fate.
So far this season, Udinese have continued to surpass expectations as despite selling on such key names as Alexis Sanchez and Gokhan Inler, their existing players have stepped up to the level required as well as new faces. Gabriel Torje has lived up to his potential thus far and is filling the void made by Sanchez’s departure better than expected while Danilo has done the same in light of Cristian Zapata’s sale.
Tactically, it has been a case of refining the pre-existing formula and so far it’s worked for Guidolin and his charges. Last season saw them utilise a back three predominantly while this season has seen a shift to a back four .They’ve conceded just the one goal so far this season and credit must go not just to their tactical refinement but also the form of goalkeeper Samir Handanovic who has continued from where he left off last season.
The counter-attacking style has been maintained from last season and they continue to utilise a relentless pressing system. Guidolin would more than likely downplay his own role in the success of this team but his tactical ideals have certainly translated to a team with a multitude of fresh faces in little time. With club captain Antonio Di Natale once again top of the goal-scoring charts and aiming for what would be his third consecutive Capocannoniere title, Udine tifosi certainly have reasons to be more optimistic than their Coach would like to allow.
Wednesday’s game against Partenopei will provide a stern test of Udinese’s possible ambitions for the season. Their encounter last season at Stadio San Paolo saw il Zebrette emerge with a 2-1 victory. Guidolin’s realist tendencies will be on display for a while yet but should they replicate last season’s success at Stadio San Paolo then the perception may be that such a mental disposition is more a stance of defiance than justified pessimism.

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