Parma vs. Udinese, Preview: The all-important race for ninth heats up

Marco Luzzani

Ok, maybe the race for ninth isn't that important, but with Udinese still desperately clinging to faint European hopes, they won't be ready to wind down for the summer yet.

Francesco Guidolin's zebrette will try to defy their disappointing away record and become only the third team to beat Parma at the Stadio Ennio Tardini, looking to cut their six point deficit to the Europa League spots. They've been frustratingly inconsistent this season, and only Torino have drawn more games than the Friulani.

As for the crociati, their home record has been excellent, and they've shown flashes of the great form they showed when Roberto Donadoni took charge last season. But like their opponents here they've often underperformed, and in the last match they really didn't look like they could be bothered to play at all, deserving no more than the 0-0 draw they got against Siena. Now they're a place and six points behind Udinese.

These sides boast a couple of the division's tightest defences, so putting two and two together you'd expect zero goals. Hopefully this maths doesn't add up and we see a thrilling end-to-end goalfest, though at the compact Ennio Tardini, it probably won't happen -- not least with Udinese having Antonio Di Natale unavailable through suspension. Defender Mehdi Benatia will also be forced to sit on the naughty step, though they don't have any injuries to worry about.

Parma will be without their ever-present midfield workhorse Marco Parolo through suspension, with Sotiris Ninis, Álvaro Ampuero and Rodney Strasser all queuing up to take his place. Elsewhere, midfielder McDonald Mariga is out injured, as is Raffaele Palladino, who came off the bench to score a last-gasp equaliser in a 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture.

Parma Injuries and Suspensions

McDonald Mariga, Raffaele Palladino (injured); Marco Parolo (suspended)

Udinese Injuries and Suspensions

Antonio Di Natale, Mehdi Benatia (suspended)

Match Date/Time: Sunday 14th April 2013 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. E.T.

Venue: Stadio Ennio Tardini, Parma, Italy

TV: Sky Calcio 5 (Italy)

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