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Udinese Focus: 2013-2013 Season Preview

Another edition of Serie A begins on August 24th and there have been plenty of storylines written about the upcoming campaign. The title race and fight for top three have been the primary focuses of the new season, but there’s far more than meets the eye.

There has been a huge injection of star players in the league this summer, many of whom are attackers. It’s not only some of the new additions on the lower rung teams that are going unnoticed, the managers are also neglected.

Italy is one of the coaching hotbeds in world football. They’ve produced some talented tacticians such as Arrigo Sacchi, Fabio Capello, and Giovanni Trapattoni. There are, however, coaches of many nationalities that are plying their trade in Italy and the vast majority aren’t getting the attention they deserve, even though some of them have accomplished a lot in their careers.

Francesco Guidolin is arguably the best of the unnoticed bunch. Since joining Udinese in 2010, he’s achieved two Champions League qualification spots despite the club selling some of their best talents. The Zebrette not being able to financially compete with the bigger teams in Serie A didn’t help their cause either. However, in 2012/13, with arguably their weakest squad in Guidolin’s tenure, they overachieved again.

The Bianconeri finished fifth with 66 points, just six behind third place AC Milan. Udinese recorded just eight losses, which was level with Milan. Only the top two (Napoli and Juventus) had fewer defeats last season.

What killed Udinese last year was the amount of matches they drew. Only three teams tied more games than the Friulani (12), which is what ultimately kept them at bay from the top three.

Now with the likes of Roma’s Nico Lopez and Valerio Verre, along with Botafogo’s Jadson being added this summer, along with many younger players, they’re set to surprise yet again. The average age of those arrivals are 20.71 years, meaning yet another intake of youth.

Guidolin is the mastermind behind the success that this provincial club always seems to attain. Many doubt him and his team year in, year out, but watch out for the Zebrette, because in the last three years, they’ve been able to earn points in 24 matches against Juventus, AC Milan, Inter, Fiorentina, Lazio, and Roma. Udinese are always guarantee to trouble one of the top sides, even if they fail to win.

Of the players that impressed last season, Luis Muriel is near the top of the list. He was linked with plenty of teams during the summer, including Liverpool and Milan. The 22-year-old Colombian enjoyed a breakthrough campaign, scoring 11 goals in 22 appearances in Serie A. One of the major factors of his fantastic displays was Guidolin’s advice.

After Guidolin told Muriel that he ate too much and should focus on being fit for every game, the Colombian improved dramatically. He’ll only get better from here on out, especially if the Italian tactician continues to push him every day.

Then there’s 35-year-old Antonio Di Natale. Even though he’s reaching the twilight of his career, he continues to score goals at will. His 23 last year was only bettered by Edinson Cavani, who was arguably the most sought after player of the summer.

Giampiero Pinzi, Roberto Pereyra, Allan, and Gabriel Silva are other squad members who’ve impressed over the years. Much like the previous years, the club will cope with the incoming additions and outgoing starlets. All the more admirable of a team whose main priority just three years ago was to stay in the first division.