Udinese vs AS Roma, Preview: Veteran entertainers take centre stage

Dino Panato

It’s the battle of the two talismen, as Udinese and AS Roma lock horns, looking for a Europa League place.

Antonio Di Natale bagged his 150th goal in an Udinese shirt during last weekend's victory at Pescara. Not to be outdone, Roma's Francesco Totti became Serie A's second all-time top scorer when he netted goal 225 in his side's 3-1 win over Genoa to go level with Gunnar Nordahl.

Alessio Romagnoli enjoyed a dream debut for Roma with a goal last week and the 18-year-old will be looking to keep his place in the side. Miralem Pjanic is out after going off against Genoa with an ankle injury, while a thigh injury will keep Marquinhos out for around ten days. Michael Bradley is suspended for accumulating too many yellow cards.

Udinese's victory at Pescara was only their third win on the road so far this season. Only Juventus and Inter Milan have won more games away from home than Roma.

The home side won this fixture 2-0 last season which saw the Friuli outfit retain top spot in Serie A. Fast forward to the present day and Roma are just three points ahead of their hosts with Catania sandwiching the two sides in the top half of the table. Udinese came back from 2-0 down to win a five goal thriller back in Week 9, but that was at the height of Zemanlandia. Since interim manager Aurelio Andreazzoli has been at the helm, he's guided the Giallorossi to three consecutive wins, adding the scalp of Juventus along the way.

Andrea Lazzari, Giovanni Pasquale and Giampiero Pinzi are all out injured for the hosts, while Mehdi Benatia and Diego Rodriguez remain doubts.

Di Natale remains the main Udinese goal threat. Toto has notched 15 goals so far this season, but has revealed he'll be considering retirement at the end of the current campaign, even though his contract still has a year left to run.

"I don't feel my age, but, after 20 years of football, training is starting to weigh me down," the 35-year-old told the Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I still really enjoy games though. I'll decide what to do in June. Once the season is over I'll stop and think about the best solution."

Udinese injuries and suspensions

Out: Andrea Lazzari, Giovanni Pasquale, Giampiero Pinzi (injured) Mehdi Benatia, Diego Rodriguez (in doubt)

AS Roma injuries and suspensions

Out: Miralem Pjanic, Marquinhos, Mattia Destro (injured) Leandro Castan (in doubt) Michael Bradley (suspended)

Match Date/Time: Saturday 9th March 2013 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET

Venue: Stadio Friuli, Udine, Italy

TV: Sky Calcio 1, Premium Calcio (Italy) RAI Internazionale (U.S) ESPN (UK)

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