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Serie A Preview: Udinese - Cagliari

Kick-off: Wednesday, February 24, 2010, 18:30 (CET).
Stadio Friuli, Udine.

New Coach, New Start


Udinese's 3-0 defeat to Genoa at the weekend was their 12th in Serie A and one that kept them 16th in the table with 24 points from as many matches. It was also the defeat that led to the sacking of Gianni Di Biasi and the recall of Pasquale Marino.

Whether or not Marino can resurrect the Bianconeri only time will take. But it is obvious that he would have to do more than he did in the first half of the season when he was sacked in December by Udinese after the Udine-based side had plummeted to 14th in the Serie A standings following a depressing run of seven defeats in 10 games.

However, Udinese have a good record at home as they have won six out of 11 matches in Serie A in front of their own supporters.

Flying High And High


Cagliari were expected to fight for a mid-table position in the league at the start of the season but the Sardinians have far exceeded the expectations. They are currently eighth in Serie A with 38 points from 24 matches and are just three points off a Champions League place.

Last weekend the Isolani defeated Parma 2-0 at home with conviction, thanks to a goal from Alessandro Matri and an own goal from Cristian Zaccardo. Things are looking promising for Massimiliano Allegri's side.

Although Cagliari's away record in Serie A isn't very good, it isn't very bad either as they have won four and drawn two of their 11 matches on the road. However, the Isolani have conceded 13 goals and scored just 11 in those away games.


FORM GUIDE


Udinese

February 20 v Genoa (A) - LOST 3-0 (Serie A)

February 12 v Milan (A) - LOST 3-2 (Serie A)

February 7 v Napoli (H) - WON - 3-1 (Serie A)

February 4 v Roma (A) - LOST 2-0 (Coppa Italia)

January 31 v Catania (A) - DREW 1-1 (Serie A)

Cagliari

February 21 v Parma (H) - WON 2-0 (Serie A)

February 14 v Bari (H) -  WON 3-1 (Serie A)

February 7 v Inter (A) - LOST 3-0 (Serie A)

January 31 v Fiorentina (H) - DREW 2-2 (Serie A)

January 24 v Siena (A) - DREW 1-1 (Serie A)


TEAM NEWS

Udinese

Domizzi, D'Agostino, Obodo and Basta are unavailable while Pepe and Handanovic are struggling with injuries. Zapata is suspended.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3):
Handanovic, Isla, Coda, Lukovic, Pasquale; Inler, Sammarco, Asamoah; Sanchez, Floro Flores, Di Natale

Cagliari

Lupatelli, Pisano, Lopez, Dessena, Brkljaca and Marzoratti are unavailable for the trip to Udine while Astori and Lazzari are struggling with injuries.

Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Agazzi, Canini, Ariaudo, Astori, Agostini; Biondini, Conti, Lazzari; Cossu; Matri, Nene


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Antonio Di Natale (Udinese)


The Italian international striker has been in superb goalscoring form of late in spite of Udinese plummeting towards the relegation zone. Di Natale has scored 17 goals in 21 league appearances and for Udinese to rise up the standings in Serie A, Di Natale would have to be on top of his game all the time. He will be the main dangerman for Cagliari especially as the Bianconeri are playing at home.

Alessandro Matri (Cagliari)


Matri scored against Parma at the weekend and helped Cagliari to a 2-0 win. The 25-year-old has 11 goals and five assists in the league and will be a key player for the Sardinians as they attempt to garner maximum points in Udine.


PREDICTION


Cagliari are in red-hot form at the moment and it would indeed be tough for Udinese to contain them. However, the Bianconeri have a new coach and this could import a breathe of fresh air. The initial stages and the first goal of the game are going to be interesting, but Cagliari should have enough in their tank to go back home with all three points.

Udinese 1-3 Cagliari