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View from the Opposition: Udinese

Pietro Oleotto is a journalist for Messaggero Veneto, a famous regional newspaper for the north-east of Italy. Oleotto covers Udinese for the paper, so who better to ask to get the lowdown on Thursday's opponents... 

The game at the Stadio Olimpico gets underway at 20:45 CEST.

Will Udinese be coming into this game a bit chastened, having lost 4-0 at home to Napoli?

"It could definitely be that a bit of the confidence has been lost of that one. The team seemed a bit flat to me, like they couldn't find a way to respond to the problems they were facing. It's a bit strange for Udinese, because under Luca Gotti they have always demonstrated a strong character. So, in that regard at least, I expect a real reaction against Roma."

What sort of game are you expecting, tactically speaking?

"Like Napoli, Roma have usually set out in a 4-2-3-1 formation this season. Udinese seem to struggle a bit against that setup, largely because of the wide players they use: Molina on one side and Stryger Larsen on the other. Their counter-attacks largely start from those positions though, and that's often how they are most dangerous, so that will probably be the key tactical battle of the match."

What are the strengths of this Udinese side?

"The versatility of a number of different players. That versatility allows Gotti to play with just one striker up top, and switch from a 3-5-2 to a 3-5-1-1. From afar, it looks like that striker will be Pussetto."

With Pereyra playing just off him? 

"Yes. He'll be the connector between the central midfield and the playmakers, with Walace playing in that controlling role. As I've already said, the biggest issue for Roma will be the Udinese counter-attack: when Molina, Pussetto and Pereyra all set off then the side really can be threatening. A lot of the team's goals come from counter-attacks."

Which player would you love Udinese to be able to steal from Roma?

"Honestly, I would really take Jose Mourinho. He's always given off the impression that he is a very rational person, apart from that one instinctive moment that led him to run towards the Curva Sud. He has an almost unmatched background in the game. I love him."

So which player is the key man for Udinese?

"Pereyra. Both for the hybrid role he has - both a midfielder and a forward - and for the experience he brings. He has already started taking on the mantle after the departure of Rodrigo De Paul - even if he could never be De Paul."

What's your prediction for the game?

"I think Roma will win. I heard what Mourinho had to say in his press conference and I'm convinced that there's no other option but a win for the home side. I think they will start the game in the right mood and immediately take charge of the contest."

 
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