Udinese v SPAL 2013- Stadio Friuli at 14:00
Udinese axed veteran head coach Gigi Delneri after picking up only four wins from their opening 12 Serie A matches this season. The club was stale, going nowhere fast and desperately required someone new, young and with fresh ideas to help them out of their concerning malaise.
Former full-back Massimo Oddo was given the gig at the Stadio Friuli. He’d enjoyed great success with Pescara and arrived in buoyant mood, eager to make a difference with the Zebrette.
First up was an expected 1-0 loss to Napoli but his positive outlook has made a significant difference with Udinese’s following six fixtures returning 16 points. The 41-year-old guided the group to five successive victories, including a stunning 3-1 success at previously unbeaten Inter Milan.
Following a stream of excuses after negative and abject displays under Delneri, Udinese has found their range, their confidence and their poise. So when the Zebrette were held to a draw at Chievo in their last outing before the brief winter break, the team were disappointed they’d failed to perform.
Oddo admitted it was Udinese’s “worst performance since I’ve been at the club” and was grateful for the point, picked up thanks to Nenad Tomovic’s own goal. The new boss took the blame for passive first-half display but confirmed his young squad would learn from their ways and be ready for their next match.
That young squad is also in-demand. A string of excellent performances have attracted many clubs to the likes of Jakub Jankto and Antonin Barak and Oddo has expressed his desire to keep both at the Friuli until at least the end of the season.
Value with the hosts
So Udinese should be expected to put in a much-improved effort when they welcome strugglers SPAL on Sunday. The hosts knocked in 15 goals during their five-game winning streak and their record when welcoming the league’s lesser lights has to be admired.
The Zebrette have beaten each of their past eight opponents from the bottom-six here and looking at their record against bottom-four visitors, Udinese has won all six such showdowns since the start of last season, covering the -1 handicap on each occasion.
Considering SPAL have managed a sole success in nine – at rock-bottom Benevento – as well as that, being their only victory on their travels, it’s hard to see the newly-promoted club causing Udinese too many problems. The guests have lost seven of their last nine away, five of which were by a two-goal margin.
The visitors have shipped at least two goals in six of their previous seven away days and head coach Leonardo Semplici has continuously bemoaned his porous defence post-match in recent days. He’s been busy in the transfer window, adding Poland defender Thiago Cionek, left-back Boukary Drame from Atalanta and midfielder Jasmin Kurtic but even so, Udinese should be capable of clinching maximum points here.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Udinese -0.5 at 1.793
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