Udinese’s new signings impress in victory over Lecce

With the sale of key players such as attacker Alexis Sanchez to Barcelona and midfielder Gokhan Inler to Napoli, many thought Udinese’s chances of repeating last season’s fourth place finish were slim. However, on Sunday’s showing away at Lecce, where the Zebrette had six first team starters from the previous’ campaign missing, it would be very hasty to say that a repeat of last season’s success was not possible.
One of the most enjoyable things about watching Udinese last term was Francesco Guidolin’s use of the ambitious 3-5-1-1 formation. It worked so well in taking advantage of Serie A’s many narrow midfields meaning that wing-backs Mauricio Isla and Pablo Armero had freedom to roam up and down the flanks, with only the opposition full back defending them.
On Sunday afternoon Guidolin kept with the same formation but, as is often the case with Udinese at the beginning of a new season, there was a bucket load of new faces; many of whom had been newly signed and those who had been out on loan last year. If there is anything consistent at Udinese it is the massive amount of players they have on their books. Currently they have an astonishing 45 players out on loan.
Defenders Joel Ekstrand and Brazilian Danilo came into the back three while the popular South American wing-back duo of Armero and Isla did not even play (due to international duty); Guidolin instead used Dusan Basta and Giovanni Pasquale. Both the replacement wing-backs were given just as much freedom with Basta making it 1-0 inside 90 seconds. In central midfield the massive Inler shaped hole looks like it has been filled already by the energetic Badu whose constant running and harrying will surely be getting him linked with a move elsewhere soon enough.
The man who everybody has been left talking about though, and Udinese’s biggest signing this summer is Gabriel Torje. Currently being dubbed the ‘Romanian Messi’ for his tight dribbling skills and low centre of gravity it is Torje who has the enormous task of filling Sanchez’s shoes. He started off in the most perfect way as it was his shot which was turned in by Antonio Di Natale to make it 2-0. Torje’s constant dribbling and creativity also caught the eye and with a little bit more composure he could have scored a debut goal. It will be interesting to see how his partnership with Di Natale develops over the coming months and whether he can end up being as devastating as the man he replaced.
Of course this is not the first evidence we have seen of the Bianconeri’s continued climb this season. Despite being knocked out by Arsenal in the Champions League qualifying round Udinese received nothing but praise for the way they attacked and entertained over the two legs. However what may have been an even more interesting development was Guidolin’s change of formation for those games.
Changing to a 4-4-1-1 formation Guidolin tried to combat the short comings of playing 3 at the back against good teams playing with a front three. Often the defence can become stretched and the wing-backs can be forced to drop deeper fearing 3 vs. 3 situations at the back. Despite not winning either game it was still a positive sign of flexibility from the ex Palermo Coach. Udinese, like last season will continue to entertain in Serie A, while this time they have some new players to look out for and perhaps more flexibility.

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