Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Lorenzo Vicini On September - 1 - 2011

Italian Serie A 2011-12 Club Preview: Udinese Calcio

We reach the end of the road in our Serie A club previews for 2011-2012 with Udinese Calcio. Not as flash as big brother Juventus, our northerners from the Friuli–Venezia Giulia region do have an eye for young talent. But as Serie A Weekly writer Lorenzo Vicini points out, shame they couldn’t keep at least one of their major transfers out this summer for Champions League competition, already in their rearview mirror (courtesy of London’s Arsenal).

2010-2011 Recap

It was a rough start for new boss Francesco Guidolin. Udinese lost their first four games and Guidolin’s future on the Zebrette bench was called into question. Thankfully, the club opted for patience and Guidolin rewarded them for it as Udinese became one of the biggest surprises of the Serie A season. The Zebrette went on a 14 game unbeaten run, conquering the likes of Inter, Juventus and highlighted by a 7-0 drubbing of Guidolin’s former side Palermo in Sicily. The wondrous, open style of play drew comparisons to Barcelona as Alexis Sanchez and Antonio Di Natale spearheaded a fierce attack that slashed through the opposition. When the dust had settled, Udinese finished the 2010-11 season in fourth place, earning them a spot in the qualifying round for the Champions League.

Key Acquisitions

Danilo, Diego Fabbrini, Floro Flores, Gabriel Torje,

Key Departures

German Denis, Gokhan Inler, Alexis Sanchez, Zapata

The Summer So Far

Udinese, despite vying for a spot in the Champions League group stage, still embarked on the same strategy that they’ve always have: selling off their stars and pointing on unknowns. Alexis Sanchez was sold to Barcelona, Zapata left for Villareal and the saga that was the Inler transfer ended when the Swiss midfielder finally joined Napoli. The club turned around and invested some of the money from those sales in the purchases of youngsters such as Danilo, Diego Fabbrini and Gabriel Torje.

Udinese had the misfortune of drawing perennial Champions League team Arsenal for the qualifying round. Over the course of the two leg tie, the Zebrette performed admirably, continually attacking and employing the same thrilling football that allowed them to finish in fourth place last season. Udinese fell short in the end, losing both legs, but a few unfortunate events really could have tipped the tie in their favor. And with that, Guidolin’s side have already saluted the prestigious tournament.

Man To Watch

The loss of Sanchez will mean Antonio Di Natale must continue to carry the team’s attack. Yet, the ageless striker has proven that he is more than capable, finishing as Serie A’s top scorer for the last two seasons. The brightest gem could be the young Diego Fabbrini. The 21 year old is a very versatile player who can play as a trequartista, out on the wing, or as a second striker. He is bursting with talent and has been heralded as the “new Kaká”. In any case, Udinese has numerous examples of nurturing and allowing young talent to explode. Fabbrini could very well have a big impact for the Zebrette this season.


It’s unfortunate that Udinese sold off three of their best pieces in the summer, even though they had Champions League prospects. However, the club had reached the Champions League before while operating on a similar policy, so it’s no surprise they didn’t change it this time around. For the Friuli, the losses of Zapata and Inler will prove to be harder to deal with than that of Alexis Sanchez; yet, the club can take comfort in the fact that the new talent brought in already feels right. After all, the two matches against Arsenal showed that the club is still competitive with one of England’s most prestigious sides. While a third place finish would be a remarkable feat, Udinese should remain in the race for European football. With Guidolin at the helm and Di Natale leading the charge, more entertainment is on the way for the Zebrette.

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