Juventus
    22.08.2015 10:30 - in: Serie A S

    Eye on Udinese

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    As the Bianconeri kick off their campaign at home to Udinese on Sunday, Juventus.com takes a closer look at the Udine outfit and their preparations for the new season

    Promoted to Italy's top flight in 1996, Udinese have become a regular fixture in Serie A. Sharing Juventus' black and white stripes, the Friulian outfit has cultivated a reputation of prudent and responsible management and in recent times as a club based on the sourcing and development of top young talent. 

    Having excelled in finishing in the top five three seasons in a row between 2010/11 and 2012/2013, the Zebrette continue to perform admirably in the country's top division. The last two seasons have been tougher for the northeastern side but in Antonio Di Natale they still have one of Europe's most prolific marksmen.  

    This will be the diminutive striker's 11th season at Udinese as he looks to climb the Serie A all-time scorers table where he currently sits in sixth place. 

    In the past five seasons in the top five European leagues, Di Natale's tally of 105 goals is only bettered by Cristiano Ronaldo (199), Lionel Messi (198), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (117) and Edinson Cavani (112). 

    Comings and goings

    Roberto Pereyra, Kwadwo Asamoah, Mauricio Isla, all now of Juventus, Alexis Sanchez, Mehdi Benatia and Juan Cuadrado all found their feet in European football at the Stadio Friuli and in both 2015 transfer windows Udinese have once more turned profits on their foreign imports.

    The permanent transfers of Luis Muriel to Sampdoria, Allan to Napoli and Pereyra to Juventus this calendar year have maintained the club’s healthy financial state as the finishing touches are added to the Nuovo Stadio Friuli which, although not completed, will be open for the start of the new season with a reduced capacity of just over 19,000.

    Duvan Zapata arrives on loan from Napoli

    For incoming transfers the Zebrette have scoured the international market once more, signing highly-rated Iraqi full-back Ali Adnan from Turkish side Rizesport and confirming the permanent transfer of Ivan Piris from Uruguayan outfit Maldonado. 

    Closer to home, Colombian striker Duvan Zapata has arrived on loan from Napoli, Spaniard Manuel Iturra from Granada on a free transfer and left-footed Brazilian playmaker Marquinho from Roma. 

    New season, new manager

    After a bright start last term under Andrea Stramaccioni, Udinese tailed off in the second half of the campaign, finishing in 16th position, their worst in over 20 years.

    As a result, the club appointed ex-Atalanta boss Stefano Colantuono whose record in his previous job bodes well for his new employers, as he guided the Nerazzuri up from Serie B in 2011 and consolidated their place in the top division.

    How have they prepared for Sunday?

    Colantuono’s men have been busy in pre-season with their schedule including trips to Schalke (1-1), Panathinaikos (2-1), Bastia (2-3) and Granada (0-2), as well as comprehensive wins against local sides Clodiense (7-0) and Altovicentino (4-0).

    Most importantly though, Sunday’s Coppa Italia third round win over Novara (3-1) will mean they enter the game at Juventus Stadium in confident mood. 

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