The optimist will be looking forward to tomorrow’s match with hope and a positive attitude. I am usually that person. But I have eaten two rounds of Serie A humble pie, and my optimism is suffering from some serious indigestion, to be quite honest. So in reality, I am hunkering down for Udinese’s trip to the San Siro like naughty students prepare to face the headmaster. And I am practicing saying “Thank you, may I have another?”
Udinese were our worthy foe last season. Remember our thrilling 4-4 draw when we hosted them in January? And then they held us to a nil-nil draw at the Friuli, too. The third time’s a charm, and I hope with all of my heart that we are the ones to break the spell.
Unfortunately, Udinese have better current form and fewer injuries, so it is more likely that I will have more indigestion. They may have fallen to Arsenal in the Champions League playoffs, but they took Ligue 1’s 6th place Rennes last week in a pretty convincing 2-1 win in the Europa League. And they beat Lecce away 2-0 and Fiorentina at home on the weekend 2-0 as well. And they did all of that playing well, not just with luck.
Despite selling players like Zapata, Inler, and Sanchez, they are not short on talent by any means. They still boast Antonio Di Natale up front, the Serie A capo cannoniere (top scorer) for the past 2 seasons. And the formidable Samir Handanovich in goal. And players like Isla and Asamoah in the midfield. In fact, many of their players are not necessarily well known, but they definitely will be well known to our players by the end of the match. So just because you haven’t heard of them, don’t think they won’t school our all star squad.
Manager Francesco Guidolin played Handanovic; Danilo, Domizzi, Benatia; Asamoah, Isla, Pinzi, Pasquale, Basta; Di Natale, and Torje on the weekend vs. Fiorentina. It is likely he will replace Pasquale with Armero because of a knock Pasquale took on Saturday, but I would guess Guidolin will keep basically the same squad.
Our depleted squad could get a much needed boost by the potential return of Ibrahimovic. Although it is only a slight chance that Allegri will play him, the pressure of gaining only 1 point out of 6 in Serie A so far may factor into the decision, should the Swede’s fitness make him available at the last minute. Other than that, our squad should be WYSIWYG vs. Napoli - What you saw is what you get. Although I would love to lose Bonera… But maybe being at the San Siro will improve everyone’s performance.
Or maybe not. So much pressure being the reigning champions and playing the marquee Champions League match last week against Barcelona. Not to mention the injuries. So my hopes may not be so high for this one, but my heart is 100% with our boys. In fact, I am thinking of purchasing a proper whip or something to flog myself with, should it not turn out as desired. But then again, I survived Leonardo as coach for a year, I’m probably maxed out on self-punishment points. Perhaps I should just cheer my boys to victory, then maybe I can figure out how to celebrate… (to the bartender) “Thank you, may I have another?”
This post inspired by the music of The Cranberries