The Bianconeri are in the top six and suddenly European ambitions have been conceived...
Last season around this time Udinese were bracing themselves for a lengthy battle with relegation, now they are flirting with the idea of playing in Europe. The Bianconeri's turnaround has been as much romantic as encouraging; for a side of their modest resources and means they are doing extremely well in rubbing shoulders with Italy's big boys.
At the weekend Udinese got the better of Juventus 2-1 in Turin and it was the second successive match in which they had humbled an Italian giant. Prior to that victory they had punctuated Italian and European champions Inter's five-game winning streak by dismissing them 3-1 in Udine and have won four of their five league encounters in January, drawing the other one.
The Bianconeri are unbeaten at the Stadio Friuli since September 19 and have won their last six games at home, and against a Bologna side terribly poor on the road, they will be expected to win. Udinese are currently sixth in the league standings with 36 points from 22 matches, but coach Francesco Guidolin has urged his players not to let this success dance into their heads.
"We have to allow our fans to dream,'' said Guidolin. "But in order to do so, we cannot fall asleep. In a couple of months we will see where we stand.
"We simply cannot get over-confident, we have to take it one game at a time. Wins give you further motivation and an added strength but I have a very serious side that works hard and will continue to do so.''
Encouraging Run Of Results
Bologna remain in danger of suffering relegation from Serie A as with 25 points from 21 matches they are just five points ahead of third-from-bottom Cesena, but the Rossoblu have shown signs of improvements in the new year and can be optimistic of survival.
This weekend their game against Roma was postponed because of bad weather but prior to that Bologna had destroyed Scudetto-chasing Lazio 3-1 at home. It helped them get over defeats to Inter and Napoli and kept them on track to Serie A survival.
The Felsinei have lost just once in their last five league games but have a poor away record, having won just twice in 11 league encounters. In the reverse fixture earlier in the campaign, however, Bologna defeated Udinese 2-1 at home and will be hopeful of getting something from Udine tonight.
Basta, Ferronetti, Angella and Handanovic are injured while Alexis Sanchez is suspended.
Ramirez is injured for Bologna while Gimenez is suspended.