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

Oh Udinese, what happened to you in Thursday’s Europa League match against Atlético?  The zebrette won the first leg, 2-0, but on their visit to Madrid were hammered 4-0. But there’s not really that much you can take away from an Udinese loss in Europe’s lesser tournament. Francesco Guidolin certainly didn’t field a full-strength squad, at least not from the start, leaving out Mauricio Isla, Dusan Basta, Kwadwo Asamoah and Pablo Armero. Antonio Di Natale was left behind, and Gabriel Torje is cup-tied. In other words, this ain’t the same team you’ll see on Sunday against Siena.

Guidolin likely made a smart choice in disfavoring the Europa League. Look at Napoli and their small squad – devoting all their energy to Bayern Munich, in a match they were never going to win, so fielding a weakened squad against in-form Catania and having tired players for the Juventus match. Now Udinese have fresh legs available to help them regain first place from the Old Lady, and they’ll almost certainly field their typical lineup at the Stadio Friuli this weekend.

Last week’s 1-0 scoreline flattered Palermo a bit. Udinese dominated the first half, although the only goal came from Toto, via a cross from Bausta. Palermo woke up in the second, but Samir Handanovic just couldn’t be beaten this week – and the bianconeri kept up the attack as well. But for the skills of Alexandros Tzorvas in the other goal, Palermo may have suffered yet another humiliating defeat, and this time wouldn’t even be able to blame it on Alexis Sanchez.

As for Siena, they’re at the top of my “heroes” list for their performance last week: 4-1 over Chievo, or as I term them, FFD. You can work that one out for yourselves, as this is a family site. Mattia Destro scored twice and Gaetano D’Agostino added another and Emanuele Calaio grabbed one in stoppage time. That’s three goals in four starts for Destro, although how well the young Italian will fare against the normally tight defense of Udinese could be an entirely different matter.

The thrashing of FFD lifted Siena to seventh place, equal on points with Palermo and Cagliari – could we see those predicting the Robur to go straight back down going back and deleting their preseason articles? Then again, we’re not yet ten games in, and have failed to beat the big guns. I’d say it’s likely they’ll stay up, but slide down the table – and their performance against Udinese will be indicative of this.

Prediction
Udinese will field the big guns against Siena, and the Robur won’t be able to cope with the lightening-fast counter attacks. The Siena defense might not be the weakest in Serie A, so the zebrette likely won’t stomp all over the visitors, but they’ll put in a comfortable win.

Probable Starting XI
Udinese (3-5-1-1): Handanovic; Benatia, Danilo, Domizzi; Basta, Isla, Pinzi, Asamoah, Armero; Floro Flores; Di Natale
Siena (4-4-2): Brkic; Vitiello, Rossettini, Contini, Del Grosso; Mannini, D’Agostino, Gazzi, Brienza; Calaiò, Destro

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