Udinese finished a lowly 15th last season after briefly flirting with relegation. This was a sharp decline for a team which finished 7th for two successive seasons before that. The Friulianis have a better squad than their league positions suggest. They haven’t begun their campaign on the right note in this season. They fought bravely against both Genoa and Inter, but ultimately lost both games narrowly. However, they will lap up the opportunity to face a Juventus team struggling to find rhythm.
Juve’s current season hasn’t shown any signs of improvement so far. After an ordinary game at Bari, Juve drew 3-3 with Sampdoria at home. Defensive weaknesses were further uncovered in another 3-3 draw with lowly Polish club Lech Poznan in Europa League. 6 goals conceded in two home games is a poor record in any level. Coach Gigi Delneri made changes in defence in Europa League, but nothing changed.
Francesco Guidolin is most likely to retain the attacking 3-4-3 formation. Udinese’s main target will be to use the pace of Alexis Sanchez and its wing-backs. Juventus has showed tremendous weakness on both flanks and Sanchez can exploit that. The quick footed Chilean winger caused massive problems to the Juve defence last season. He inspired Udinese to a memorable 3-0 win, a victory which eased their relegation fears. The Juve back four’s vulnerability to Sanchez’s pace will be a major concern for Delneri.
Udinese is will have the services of Antonio di Natale, Serie A’s top scorer last season. Di Natale hasn’t found the net till now. Samir Handanovic was one of the best ‘keepers in Serie A in 2009. The Slovenian will be protected by experienced Christian Zapata in the heart of defence. Kwadho Asamoah signed a new deal with the club a few days ago, he will partner with Gorkhan Inler. Together, the duo would look to make up for the absence of playmaker Gaetano D’Agostino (who left for Fiorentina). Alexis Sanchez and Floro Flores will complete the trident along with Di Natale.
Luigi Delneri will fall back on his tried and tested 4-4-2. The inclusion of Milos Krasic has provided a major boost to Bianconeri in the final third. However, the defence still remains porous, while the midfield has failed to control games. Paolo De Ceglie is suffering from fatigue and Armand Traore is out injured. So there is a chance that Chiellini will be pushed to the left wings while Legrottaglie starts with Bonucci in the centre. Fabio Grosso can get a nod otherwise. Claudio Marchisio is most likely to start in the midfield with either Felipe Melo or Mohammad Sissoko, Alberto Aquilani may make a late appearance.
Milos Krasic and Simon Pepe will take up the duties of wing-play. The duo played well against Sampdoria. Alessandro Del Piero is unlikely to get a start after playing two full games in a week. Fabio Quagliarella will partner Vincenzo Iaquinta upfront. Juventus will depend on Milos Krasic to unlock the Friuliani defence. Krasic frequently cuts in from the wings often playing just behind the strikers; he can create confusion in the 3 man Udinese defence.
Claudio Marchisio will take part in a battle with Asamoah, to control the midfield. The outcome of this mini battle might decide the game in the end. Both Simon Pepe & Marco Motta will make a return to their actual clubs in this game. Both players are Udinese players loaned to Juventus.
Possible Starting XI
Udinese: Handanovic, Benatia, Zapata, Domizzi; Isla, Inler, Asamoah, Pasquale; Sanchez, Floro Flores, Di Natale
Juventus: Storari, Motta, Bonucci, Chiellini, Grygera; Krasic, Felipe Melo, Marchisio, Pepe; Iaquinta, Quagliarella
Player to watch out for
Milos Krasic (Juventus): Krasic was the best Juventus player on field against Sampdoria. He assisted two of the three goals scored, and could have scored one himself after a darting run. His pace and creativity adds a much needed dimension to this work-man like team. Plus Krasic is a hard worker. He may not be the next Nedved but he can very well turn out to be the next Juventus star.
Krasic, the main attacking threat for Juventus
Past 5 matches
2009-10 Juventus 1-0 Udinese, Udinese 3-0 Juventus
2008-09 Juventus 1-0 Udinese, Udinese 2-1 Juventus
2007-08 Udinese 1-2 Juventus
Udinese 2-2 Juventus