Serie A Week 3 – 19/9/10 (14.00 UK)
Antonio Di Natale gets a chance to see what he’s missing when Udinese host Juventus this weekend.
Toto very nearly became a Juventus player in August when the Bianconeri pin-pointed him as the ideal replacement for Diego and agreed a £7m fee with Udinese. However the player publically pledged his loyalty to the Zebrette and proved true to his word. Instead Beppe Marotta decided to sign the next best thing, Di Natale’s former Udinese strike partner Fabio Quagliarella.
Di Natale and Quagliarella aren’t the only ones for whom this is a special occasion. The visitors are expected to have no less than four former Udinese players in their starting XI: Quagliarella, Marco Motta, Simone Pepe and Vicenzo Iaquinta. Even Coach Gigi Del Neri will have this game marked on his calendar, as he was born near Udine, played for the club, and has been linked with the Zebrette hot-seat on more than one occasion.
Aside from the numerous subplots at play, both clubs desperately need the three points on offer. Udinese have lost both of their fixtures so far, despite playing reasonably well against Genoa and Inter. Meanwhile Juve have suffered an embarrassing defeat away to Bari and twice surrendered a lead to draw 3-3 with Sampdoria at the Olimpico. That was before Thursday’s humiliation, when they drew 3-3 again in the Europa League against the unheralded Lech Poznan. Clearly Del Neri still has a lot of work to do, especially where his rearguard are concerned.
Turin’s Bianconeri beware – Udinese have a fearsome recent record in this fixture to protect. Two seasons ago Claudio Ranieri’s team fell 2-1 at the Stadio Friuli, with the goals coming from – funnily enough, Quagliarella and Di Natale. Last term they thumped Alberto Zaccheroni’s side 3-0 with Di Natale, Pepe and Alexis Sanchez on the scoresheet.
The home side miss the injured Andrea Coda, Dusan Basta, Damiano Ferronetti and German Denis.
Juve’s Gianluigi Buffon, Jorge Martinez, Amauri and Armand Traore are similarly indisposed.
Keep an eye on: Simone Pepe (Juventus) – Of all the members of Juve’s ex-Udinese contingent, Simone Pepe can expect the fiercest reception since he left most recently. Many remained unconvinced that he’s good enough for the Old Lady or La Nazionale, but the winger played very well against Sampdoria.
Form guide: Udinese (- – – L L) Juventus (- – – L W)
Last season: Udinese 3-0 Juventus
Top tip: Juve have scored six and conceded six in their last two matches, so expect the goals to rain in at either end, with former partners in crime Quagliarella and Di Natale featuring prominently.
Stat fact: Udinese are the only Serie A team to have lost both games so far.
Udinese (probable): Handanovic; Benatia, Zapata, Domizzi; Isla, Inler, Asamoah, Pasquale; Sanchez, Floro Flores, Di Natale
Juventus (probable): Storari; Motta, Bonucci, Chiellini, De Ceglie; Krasic, Felipe Melo, Marchisio, Pepe; Iaquinta, Quagliarella
Ref: To follow