As Udinese prepare to begin life at the newly renovated Stadio Friuli on Sunday afternoon against Juventus, their manager Stefano Colantuono has urged his charges to concentrate primarily on how they play rather than on pressing for points on a historic day for the club.
The Zebrette fell to a 2-1 reverse at the hands of Carpi last Saturday and the 53-year-old Roman made no bones about the need to put to bed what he admitted was a disappointing display by producing a positive performance against the champions.
He began: “I’m still very angry about our defeat last weekend and I want to see a strong reaction from my players tomorrow. It was a missed opportunity to put ourselves in a better position in the table. I’ve spoken at length with the team this week and they know how I feel about that display.
“Juve is a tough opponent, but I expect the guys to put in a good shift, which is not always sufficient against the top clubs, but nonetheless that’s what counts tomorrow. Then we’ll see whether we can take home a result.”
Asked on how they would go about trying to stop Massimiliano Allegri’s men, who are currently enjoying a nine-match winning streak in Serie A, Colantuono replied: “We need to try to stop them from playing their game and make life awkward for them. They’re the most in-form side in the division and they’ve fought their way back into title contention.
“It’s rare for them to have an off day. Even when they’re not firing on all cylinders, they have that experienced group of players, the likes of Buffon, Chiellini and Marchisio, who have a winning mentality that permeates throughout the whole squad. It’s no coincidence that they’ve lifted the last four Scudetto titles and will be challenging for a fifth in a row until the very end of this campaign.”
Turning his attentions to who he would field in the Zebrette line-up, Colantuono revealed that legendary forward Antonio Di Natale would feature up front, with the striker looking to end a barren run that stretches back nine fixtures.
“Antonio will play, given that against Carpi I opted for Cyril Thereau and Stipe Perica. It’s in matches like these that top players like him can thrive.
“Manuel Iturra will probably make an appearance in midfield, as we’ll need to have someone capable of doing the dirty work, if you like, and breaking up Juve’s attacks. We need to give absolutely everything all over the park and, if we do that, I’m sure we’ll have our chances to even claim victory.”