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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Udinese in Champions League: Another Sampdoria?

Yes, Udinese managed to cross that final hurdle to reach the preliminary round of Champions League with a nervy draw at home to Milan. Remarkable considering the manner in which this team has picked itself up after 4 consecutive losses that saw them at rock bottom of the serieA table after the first four games of the season. Thoroughly deserved, for the attacking football they had put on show for majority of the campaign. Yet there is a lot of uncertainty, predictably, around the Udinese camp. Even before they managed to get that vital point, everybody in Italy had the same question in their mind: How many of the present squad members will be playing in the same team even if they qualify for next year’s Champions League.

Add to that fact, Udinese has always been a ‘selling’ club, profit from player sales being their major revenue in the last decade. Udinese, the club, always took pride in their business model of spotting talented youngsters from countries lesser known for football in Africa, South America and Europe and then selling them as better players at huge profits, something which European clubs like Porto and Lyon do best. This team, with its 3-5-1-1 formation, is surely going to be entertaining to watch in the Champions League if they can keep hold of these stars this summer:

1.Alexis Sanchez- Who wouldn’t have guessed it! The most ‘talked-about player’ in the league has grown tremendously on footballing terms. The creativity behind Udinese’s attack and also Di Natali’s goals, his skill and vision is what makes him such a hot property in the transfer market. Udinese owner Giampaolo Pozzo was right in saying that it would actually help Sanchez if he stayed at Udinese for another year so that he experiences Champions League with regular starts and lesser pressure. To understand precisely what he meant, ask Torres to know the pressure of playing for a big club especially if the club has paid a lot for your services. Considering his value, it’s highly unlikely Sanchez would be sold anything less than €25m.

2.Gokhan Inler- It’s an open secret as to how much the Napoli owner wants the Swiss captain at the heart of the Azurri midfield. A real classy, yet tough, midfielder who is hugely influential in dictating play has even dropped the biggest of hints when he declined to celebrate his stunning goal against Napoli at San Paolo. Replacing Inler would be a huge task for the coach Francesco Guidolin when you take into account the experience Inler brings to this side.

3.Kwadwo Asamoah- Interest from Milan late in the season has caused further speculation and Allegri has even admitted that Asamoah would fit straight into his system. But compared to the other two, there are lesser chances he would leave.

4.Samir Handanovic- The Bianconeri goal keeper, who had a fine season with a record number of penalty saves in the league, has also been consistently linked with a move away. He has expressed his desire to move to the Premier League.
The main concern, of course, for all the neutrals and Udinese fans is how much this side can offer without these stars. There is also fear in their minds after witnessing what happened to Sampdoria in this crazy season. After finishing 4th last season, they were only seconds away from participating in the Champions League group stages until a late goal broke their hearts in the qualifying round. To make matters worse, they sold their two stars- Cassano and Pazzini, and the season ended, as we all know, with them being relegated. An intriguing story of a team from celebration to despair.
When you mention Sampdoria, it would be improper if you don’t mention Angelo Palombo. After the penultimate game of the season that confirmed their relegation, here’s what their captain Palombo could all do. Invokes the emotional side for football in you when you watch this video.

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