A team who very much counted on their home form last time out to keep them in Italy’s top flight, Udinese registered nine victories, four draws and six defeats in front of their own faithful with 75 per cent of their total successes during the 2013/14 Serie A campaign coming in Udine.
With new manager Andrea Stramaccioni in tow and captain Antonio Di Natale having reversed his decision to retire, the Zebrette began the new season in fine fashion by winning four out of their first five encounters at the Stadio Friuli.
On the opening day in August, Empoli were dispatched 2-0 thanks to a brace from Di Natale before Brazilian defender Danilo ensured a memorable 1-0 success over Rafael Benitez’s Napoli three weeks later.
The visit of a struggling Parma outfit at the culmination of September brought a six-goal thriller which ended in Udinese’s favour (4-2), before Cesena became the first team to come away from the Friuli with a point as Emmanuel Cascione’s stoppage time spot-kick ensured a 1-1 draw.
It was, however, back to business when Atalanta were the latest team to fall victim, succumbing to a 2-0 loss, only for Udinese to then suffer a first defeat in front of their faithful as Genoa ran out 4-2 winners. Incidentally, the result halted the Zebrette’s unbeaten streak at the Friuli which dated all the way back to April when Juventus triumphed 2-0 in Udine.
The last two encounters of 2014 saw Udinese first draw 1-1 with Chievo before their Verona-based rivals Hellas went one better as two strikes in as many minutes from former Bianconero Luca Toni and Lazaros Christodoulopoulos ensured a 2-1 victory.
A narrow 1-0 defeat to second-placed Roma meant the Zebrette saw in the new year on a somewhat sour note despite matching the Giallorossi pound for pound during the meeting.
Regardless of that disappointment, it looked as if they were to end their winless streak at the Friuli against lowly Cagliari midway through January, only for Danilo Avelar to break Udinese supporters’ hearts as he converted a penalty for the visitors at the death to make it 2-2.
With four victories, three draws and three defeats to their name thus far, the Zebrette currently sit eighth in the formbook for their record at home with 16 goals scored and 13 conceded.
It’ll firmly be on the players' minds to shatter their five-game winless hoodoo at the Friuli this Sunday and a victory up against the reigning champions would prove the perfect tonic after an agonising wait for all three points on their own patch.