Antonio Di Natale continues to prove age is not a problem both on and off the pitch
Udinese have finished their pre-season in high spirits, after they managed to win 4 out of the 5 games played. New player-manager Antonio Di Natale, was not only in fine playing form, scoring 4 times, but his tactics seem to be turning the Italian side into one that look very dangerous going into the full season. The new, highly midfield based approach has seemed to work very well for Udinese, with most sides unable to deal with the packed centre of the park.
The pre-season began as Udinese hosted Russian outfit Dinamo Moscow, and after a nervy performance, ended up on the wrong side of a 2-0 result. Whilst on paper the result looks bad, the club will take confidence in the fact that they fielded a younger side who looked quite capable at times of keeping up with Dinamo.
The second game saw the beginning of their Bulgarian tour, and pitted them against Dobrudzha 1919. A dominant performance saw them end up 3-1 winners and they carried this form throughout the entire tour, winning the other two games against Vereya and Montana by the same score line, with the later of these two games featuring a double by player-manager Di Natale.
Finally, they faced AEK Athens in their last game, and the whole squad played very well in their 4-1 victory. Goals from Luis Muriel, Emmanuel Badu, Alex Geijo and Cyril Thereau helped them in the demolition job, with Giotis Nalbantis’ strike a mere consolation for the Greek side. At the end of the game, Udinese’s attacking dominance was shown by their incredible 34 shots, and the 63% possession.
Player of Pre-Season
While all the strikers shone for Udinese, the Best Player of Pre-Season was awarded to defensive midfielder Emmanuel Badu. At just 23, the Ghanaian played a vital role for Di Natale’s new look side, and provided both the link between the defence and midfield in attack, but also was a key part of their defence, covering well for the centre backs when needed. His tireless work ethic and physical strength was an asset to his side, who will hope he continues his form into the start of the season.
A Look Ahead…
After a cup tie against lower league side Cremonese, Udinese will open their Serie A season with a trip to Chievo. Next, after hosting Lazio, they will be on the road again for the biggest challenge of the month; a tricky encounter with last year’s runners up, AS Roma. After that, they will face Genoa, before ending the month with a fixture against Sampdoria.