Juventus
    Juventus
      07.03.2019 10:00 - in: Serie A S

      #OppositionWatch: Udinese

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      Ahead of Udinese on Friday evening, here's what's been happening with them.
      The path

      Undoubtedly the turning of the point in the season for Udinese was when they changed their tactician, moving on from Julio Velazquez to Davide Nicola. The change occurred on Match Day 12, after a series of months full of problems with only two wins, three draws and seven losses.

      During that time, the Friulani were third last in the standings and equal on points to Empoli. The former Crotone coach, who was able to guide the Southerners to an unexpected salvation thanks to an extraordinary turnaround of form, will be hoping to do the same with his Udinese side as they sit seven points clear of the relegation zone thanks to the 2-1 victory over Bologna last weekend.

      Up...

      After Davide Nicola’s debut on the Udinese bench there was an immediate change of form. Thanks to a calculated victory in the delicate home match against Roma, the victory was obtained thanks to the goal scored by Rodrigo De Paul, who has been a protagonist since the first part of the season. Those crucial three points immediately projected the Bianconeri out of the hot zone, giving them space to breathe a sigh of relief. 

      ...and down

      At the beginning of the second round, Udinese faced Parma in Friuli. It would be a game that, with a positive result, would provide a significant leap forward in the standings. However, following a three-match undefeated streak of two draws and a win, Le Zebrette ran aground when a penalty from Inglese and a goal from Gervinho overturned Okaka’s goal. This was made worse by four goals conceded at Marassi against Sampdoria, seeing them lose two games on the trot.

       

      The protagonist

      Traditionally, the club places a lot of attention on snapping up youngsters from around the world. This year, the Friuliani put their trust in Juan Musso, a 24-year-old Argentinian goalkeeper. In the first outing against Juventus, he wasn’t on the field as he only turned out for Udinese in Match Day 10, after overcoming an injury he sustained in his right hand in the summer. So far, his appearances have been positive, so much so that he took over from Simone Scuffet in goal. His best appearances came against Milan, Roma (he brilliantly denied Kolarov’s set-piece and a shot from Pellegrini), Torino (his incredible reflexes denied Belotti), and most recently against Chievo, where he played a fundamental role in bringing home the three points.

       

      Tactical Analysis

      Twelve points in 13 games, this was Julio Velazquez’s points tally before being dismissed from the Udinese bench. In mid-November, before the game against Roma, Davide Nicola, took over the reigns on the Friuliani bench. The results, however, didn’t change much: in 12 games, Udinese tallied a total of just 13 points (with a game against Lazio in hand).

      But how did they change? Under the Spanish coach Udinese tried to build their game through dribbling, often resulting in dangerous situations, Nicola's game can definitely be considered as more pragmatic. From Velázquez’s 4-1-4-1, Udinese moved to a 3-5-2 (already used on a couple of occasions by the Spanish tactician), resulted in the better coverage on the field and less pressure being put on the backline.

      In the last 13 games, Udinese have conceded 14 goals in comparison to the 18 let in the first 12 outings. But what is most important is that the Bianconeri found themselves in a position to win some fundamental games. This was evident in last Sunday’s game against Bologna, where they claimed a 2-1 win to move further away from the drop zone. 

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