13.04.2014 17:38 - in: Serie A S

    #TacticalTalk: Udinese

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    The Zebrette have conceded exactly double the 22 goals Juve have shipped, but Antonio Di Natale remains a constant attacking threat at the other end

    Udinese may currently be 14th in the league table, some way off the 5th-placed standing they achieved last season, but one thing that remains constant is the danger posed in front of goal by Antonio Di Natale.

    The captain of Juventus’ upcoming opposition is their top scorer so far this season on 11, and has netted three in his last four games. Notable, though, is his relative lack of strikes against Juve: just four of his attempts have found the net against the Bianconeri during a Zebrette career that stretches back to 2004.

    But the 36-year-old’s talismanic importance to the side’s performances is clear from the following statistic: since 2010/11, Udinese have won 52 per cent of their Serie A games with him in the starting line-up, and just 10 per cent without.

    Second in the Zebrette’s goalscoring charts and another one to watch is Luis Muriel. The Columbian has four in the league, but possesses pace and trickery to boot and has often latched onto searching passes from top assist man Roberto Pereyra.

    Juve should also take care to pay attention to defender Thomas Heurtaux’s penchant for netting from a set piece. The Frenchman has already popped up to score three so far this season.

    A particularly conspicuous element of Udinese’s game is that they’ve sometimes been a little slow to get into their stride at the start of league fixtures, scoring fewer goals than any other team in the first 30 minutes,

    And while Juve’s 11 headed goals make them the most prolific Serie A side in the air along with Parma, just three of Udinese’s total of 35 goals have been headed home.

    In the 2-1 defeat away at Fiorentina that was their last match, boss Francesco Guidolin lined Udinese up in a 3-5-1-1 formation, with Muriel up top supported by Bruno Fernandes.

    It was the same set-up in 31 March’s 1-0 home win over Catania before that, too, though this time Di Natale was the lone striker backed up by Nico Lopez.

    Neither is it necessarily certain who will be playing between the sticks for the Zebrette. They’re the only Serie A team with three goalkeepers all on 10 or more appearances, and it’s promising young Italian Simone Scuffet who has recently been preferred to Zeljko Brkic (in goal last during the last meeting with the Bianconeri).

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