Udinese Preview from Ashley Rose

Posted by Hinesy on December 3, 2012, 03:37:53 PM

Udinese Calcio v Liverpool FC – Europa League – Thursday 6 December – k/o: 18.00

Live on ITV4, kick-off: 18.00


Liverpool head to north-east Italy to face Udinese at the Stadio Friuli on Thursday evening.
A win would send Liverpool through to the knock-out stages of the competition, but a draw or defeat would leave the door open for Young Boys of Bern to snatch that place away from the 3-times winners.
Having made heavy weather of the group phase, Liverpool will travel to face an Italian side who have struggled this season, despite finishing 3rd in Serie A last term.  In fact, defeat for Liverpool on Thursday could see them finish bottom of Group A but a win could actually see them win the group!

Udinese will probably be a bit aggrieved they find themselves in Europe’s second-tier competition after Italian football lost one of their Champions League places this season due to UEFA co-efficient.
This meant they faced a qualification game to reach the group stages of the Champions League, finally losing out to Braga following a heartbreaking 5-4 penalty shootout loss after drawing both legs 1-1.
Brazilian midfielder Maicosuel’s attempt at a “Pirlo” penalty didn’t fool the Braga goalkeeper and the Italian’s dropped in to the Europa League.

Udinese’s league form has been a mirror image of Liverpool’s this season.  They have drawn a large number of games (exactly half – 7) and find themselves in a mid-table position, 12 points off the Champions League pace, though they were boosted by a comprehensive 4-1 home win against Cagliari on Sunday.

They started their Europa League campaign with a 1-1 home draw with Anzhi Makhachkala and followed that up by coming from behind to beat Liverpool 3-2 at Anfield in their second game with prolific Italian international striker and Udinese captain, Antonio Di Natalie scoring the equalising goal just after half-time.  Jonjo Shelvey had given the reds’ a half-time lead.

Di Natale fires home against Liverpool at Anfield

2 goals in quick succession then gave Udinese a 3-1 lead but Liverpool substitute Luis Suarez quickly pulled one back.  Despite a frantic last 15 minutes, Udinese held on to claim what remains their only group win to date.

They were then surprised in Bern by Young Boys, (who at that stage were looking like the Group A whipping boys), as they went down 3-1.   Another defeat, this time at home against Young Boys in the reverse fixture left them with no margin for error in their remaining 2 group games.
However, a 2-0 defeat, and 3rd in-a-row in the group away against Anzhi Makhachkala ended their hopes of qualification.
Udinese face a tricky game away at Sampdoria next Monday evening, with Sampdoria sitting one place above them on goal-difference.

In the other game in Group A, leaders Anzhi Makhachkala head to Switzerland to face a resurgent Young Boys team who can take a place in the knock-out phase of the competition if Liverpool fail to win in Italy.
We could find a situation where 3 teams finish on 10 points (if Young Boys beat Anzhi Makhachkala and Liverpool beat Udinese) and that’s where it gets really messy…
• Anzhi Makhachkala are through as even if they are caught by both Liverpool and Young Boys, the Russian side would finish second behind the Reds in a three-way head-to-head.

• Liverpool are second on head-to-head record ahead of Young Boys and will qualify with a win. A draw would also take them through provided Young Boys do not win. Liverpool would be out with a defeat, even if Young Boys lose, as Young Boys would be top of a three-way head-to-head involving the Reds and Udinese.

• Young Boys will be through if they pick up more points than Liverpool. They will also qualify if both they and Liverpool lose as Young Boys will be top of a three-way head-to-head involving the Reds and Udinese.

Team news: Liverpool have no fresh injury worries follwing Saturday's 1-0 win against Southampton. 

Lucas Leiva played 87 minutes in his comeback game, and may not be ready to play, especially with a trip to West Ham just 3 days later.

Martin Kelly and Fabio Borini are still long-term absentees.  Luis Suarez will sit out the West Ham game as he picked up his 5th domestic booking of the season, so he is highly likely to start in Italy now.

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