Udinese

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Season Guide
2020/2021

Udinese

In


Antonin Barak (mid)(Lecce, end of loan); Mamadou Coulibaly (mid)(Trapani, end of loan); Nahuel Molina (def)(free agent); Thomas Ouwejan (def)(AZ Alkmaar, on loan); Fernando Forestieri (att)(Sheffield Wednesday); Tolgay Arslan (mid)(free agent); Riad Bajic (att)(Konyaspor, end of loan); Cristo Gonzalez (att)(Huesca, end of loan); Ryder Matos (att)(FC Luzern, end of loan)

Out


Seko Fofana (r)(mid)(Racing Club de Lens); Ken Sema (k)(mid)(Watford, end of loan)

The recent campaigns have been far from memorable for Udinese, as they have been regularly struggling for salvation and changing coaches at the speed of light. The last season was no exception to that, with coach Tudor being sacked at the end of October, and interim coach and tactician Luca Gotti leading the team until the end of the campaign almost against his own will. However, signs of improvement could be seen after the end of the Covid-19 break, as Udinese gave a hard time to many top clubs, and for once even imposed their play, rather than acting passively. Gotti was deservedly confirmed at the helm. After all, he had managed to prove that there was quality in the squad, even though they had serious problems scoring. They ended up with 37 goals, better only than SPAL and Brescia, two of the relegated sides. It is often difficult to understand what guides Udinese management during the transfer campaigns and this summer provides confirmation. Firstly, they left the defence untouched, and were wise to do so considering that Udinese kept 14 clean sheets in the past campaign, like no other Serie A team. In fact, the department will also be bolstered by the presence of experienced Prodl, now fully available after overcoming an injury. The midfield, which had been severely plagued by injuries in the last weeks of the past season, saw the departure of Fofana, a player capable of making the difference. Moreover, Mandragora is still recovering from injury and mastermind De Paul is expected to quit any time soon. Free agent Arslan is about to sign but not much else has been done in that department. More will be expected from Walace while it is unclear if talented Barak will stay on after returning from Lecce. If the midfield needs reinforcements, logic would have seen new faces also for the attack, but nothing was done, apart from signing Forestieri, returning to Friuli after a decade elsewhere. The likes of Gonzalez, Matos or Bajic, back from loans, are unlikely to remain. Right-back Molina and left-back Ouwejan arrived as a free agent and on loan respectively, and the latter will be asked to replace Sema, who did so well on the left flank but eventually returned to Watford. Udinese are still searching for free agents or loanees for the attack, the midfield and the flanks. This non-spending attitude could be dangerous, though, if they fail to sign needed players before the end of the transfer campaign as occurred in the past seasons.

Target


Quiet salvation is their goal but a lot will depend on who will replace De Paul if he quits. Otherwise, they will have to avoid troubles once again.

Season Review
2019/2020

№13: Udinese

Perennial mid-table finishers Udinese ended up one place lower than last season but with a better points tally. It was a similar sort of campaign for the Zebrette with a change of manager, a flirtation with relegation but ultimately quite a comfortable survival in the end. Igor Tudor came in late the past couple of seasons to save Udinese from relegation and this time he was given the reins from the start of the campaign. A shock opening day victory over AC Milan gave the supporters hope but they were soon brought crashing back down to earth with three consecutive defeats. Even when they did pick up results,Tudor's side weren't very entertaining to watch. His only 3 wins from the first 10 league games were by 1-0 scorelines and, when the defence started to leak goals, his days were numbered. A 7-1 defeat at Atalanta and a 4-0 home loss to Roma spelt the end for Tudor. The club promoted from within and appointed Luca Gotti who was part of Tudor's coaching staff. It had all the markings of a temporary solution, not least the man himself constantly ruling out the possibility of taking the job on a permanent role. Perhaps he was taking the pressure off himself and it appeared to work at first. Whilst Udinese would often fall against the top sides, they picked up vital wins and points against the teams around them. There was a long 9 game winless run which started in January and extended into the post Coronavirus lockdown period. The Friulani were dragged into the relegation mire but had an excellent run-in where they won half of their final 10 games. 4 of those wins came away from home and the other was a memorable day when they denied Juventus the chance of being crowned champions at the Dacia Arena. Only six teams had a better defensive record than Udinese this season and five of them were in the top 6. Rodrigo Becao was an excellent addition to the backline with some towering performances and goalkeeper Juan Musso kept the most clean sheets in Serie A with 14. Udinese struggled for goals most of the season - with only the bottom two finishing on a lower tally but they seemed to click into gear in the closing stages of the season. Kevin Lasagna was on fire after the COVID lockdown, scoring 6 times in the first 6 games back to end the season as leading goalscorer. His speed coupled with the strength of Stefano Okaka formed a dangerous partnership up front. They were supplemented by a quality midfield where Rodrigo De Paul often pulled the creative strings but Seko Fofana's powerhouse performances in the engine room stood out. The Ivorian was the key in transitioning his side from defence into attack with lung busting runs which often led to goals, especially away from home. Unfortunately for the club, Fofana has now been sold and more could follow. Despite his insistence that he wasn't the man for the job, Gotti was given the permanent role as manager for next season and this time around the pressure will really be on.


Player of the Season: Seko Fofana

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