Udinese vs. Fiorentina preview: Zebrette look to continue unbeaten run

Dino Panato

After a shock defeat to Pescara last time out, Fiorentina look to return to winning ways whilst Udinese are unbeaten in five in the league.

After a poor start to the season, confidence has been growing of late at the Friuli, culminating in the best possible comeback after the winter break - a 3-0 win over Inter. Despite this, the ongoing exodus of the Zebrette's brightest stars has continued with Pablo Armero's loan move to Napoli. Udinese's solid recent form has seen them establish themselves in a tight mid-table group, three points above Chievo in 11th and three points behind Milan in seventh. The ever in-form Antonio Di Natale continues to do what he does best, scoring four goals in the last four games including a brace in the victory over Inter however some caution will be instilled by the fact that the last defeat for Udinese came at the hands of Fiorentina in a home Coppa Italia tie just prior to Christmas.

Vincenzo Montella's Fiorentina surprised many in the first half of the season by not only putting themselves firmly in Champions League contention, but doing it with an attractive passing style. They were brought back down with a bump following the break, losing 2-0 to Pescara, however they are still only two points behind Napoli in third and four behind Lazio in second. Montella is likely to look to young Brazilian goalkeeper Neto once again as Emiliano Viviano's dream move to his boyhood club looks to have soured to the point of an imminent return to Bologna.

In some ways, these sides have swapped roles from last season, with Fiorentina now taking Udinese's place in challenging for the Champions League whilst Udinese languish in mid-table however this could be a closely-fought match given Udinese's recent league form. Fiorentina have been solid away from home, winning only one less than Udinese have at home and if they can recapture their pre-Christmas form then they could come away with the points.

Whilst Fiorentina's injury list is longer than Udinese's, Udinese are affected by the African Cup of Nations with Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu and Mehdi Benatia absent for the tournament.

Udinese Injuries and Suspensions

Out: Mathias Ranegie (injured), Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, Mehdi Benatia (African Cup of Nations)

Fiorentina Injuries and Suspensions

Out: David Pizarro, Giuseppe Rossi, Ahmed Hegazy, Michele Camporese (injured), Ruben Oliveira (suspended), Mounir El Hamdaoui (African Cup of Nations). In Doubt: Juan Guillermo Cuadrado

Match Date/Time: Sunday 13th January 2013 3p.m. local, 9a.m. E.T.

Venue: Stadio Friuli, Udine, Italy

TV: Sky Calcio 5 (Italy)

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