Last season: Udinese 2010-11 season review
The Squad: €46m made from the sale of only three players and €14m spent to replenish the side indicate that Udinese’s perfect project continues to impress economically. However, most are worried that with the sale of their three stars, Alexis Sanchez, Cristian Zapata and Gokhan Inler, the club’s sporting project may suffer as the side attempt to replicate their stunning form last season.
Whilst it may be normal to expect a hint of cynicism when discussing Udinese’s hopes for the season, it is impossible to overlook the club’s unique ability in uncovering young talent.
Attempting to recreate a healthy balance of skill and strength, the defence has seen some interesting new arrivals and none more interesting than Sergio Piccoli Neuton, the Gremio youngster famed for his excellent positioning, reading of the game and the unique ability to excel under pressure. Having already demonstrated his development against Arsenal, the youngster will take his place alongside another new recruit and one renowned for his combatant style of play, Palmeiras’ centre-back Danilo Larangeira.
In midfield, the club have struggled to replace Inler, which could result in formation changes but new arrivals include Momo Sissoko’s younger brother Abdoul Wahlid Sissoko and Thierry Doubai. Whilst the first is thought of as more of a long-term investment, the latter will contribute strength and tough tackling in central midfield.
However, the most exciting prospect comes in the form of Italian under-21 star Diego Fabbrini – a player many hope can pick up where Sanchez left off. Boasting both the confidence and exciting talent expected from an Udinese player, we await to see how much of the trequartista’s potential can be fulfilled under Francesco Guidolin.
Coach – Francesco Guidolin: Dubbed a tactical genius by several publications last season, Francesco Guidolin created a stunningly offensive Udinese side last term that scored their way into the top four despite a slow start.
Renowned for his attention to detail and the hours he talks to prep before each game by studying both the opponents and the strengths and weaknesses of his own team, he deployed a 3-5-2 formation that exploited his squad’s collective talent. Having tinkered with several different formations and likely to tinker again at the start of the season, it takes a little while for Guidolin to discover the ideal tactics. However, when he does, his meticulous approach to training make him a tough Coach to beat tactically.
Moreover, his flexible approach to tactics and ability to change players’ positioning in order to make the most of their skillset ensured he got the best out of his players and is ideal for a team like Udinese whose main objective is to develop raw talent.
An honest man who enjoys nothing more than inviting his team around for a good meal, his amiable approach and genuine affection for his players have encouraged the team to perform consistently in order to satisfy the man in charge.
Humble and relentlessly labelled a small team Coach, tactically few can compete with Guidolin.
Player to look out for: Pablo Armero: A tricky winger who exploits his pace and ability to roam the midfield to threaten opponents, Armero has proved vital for Guidolin’s tactics. His excellent partnership with fellow wing-back Mauricio Isla proved devastating lasts season as the duo switched flanks, pulled defenders away and initiated attacking movements for their teammates to finish.
Prediction: Champions League qualification will be difficult to achieve for a second time but a team fully capable of finishing in the top six.
Benatia – Danilo – Domizzi
Isla – Pinzi – Doubai – Asamoah – Armero
Barreto – Di Natale