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Spalletti and his three years in Udine

Spalletti
29 maggio 2005: l'Udinese di Spalletti è in Champions
Spalletti was immediately called back to try to redeem the bianconeri. Spalletti, a well established club, skilled transfers during the market on the side of the Pozzo family: these were the main and winning ingredients. All this meant three European qualifications: UEFA cup twice and at the end of the 2004-05 season Udinese gained addmittance to Champions League. Spalletti launched young players such as Muntari and Felipe, supported and fostered other big talents such as Pizarro (who had arrived in Italy in 1999), Iaquinta not to mention Di Michele. 

Spalletti thaught Udinese to play entertaining, concrete, structured and also amusing football. Udinese had an offensive attitude, were well balanced and the defence was stronger, too.
2004-05 David Di Michele.jpg
David Di Michele
After the last game against Milan (1-1 draw which allowed Udinese to partake into Champions League qualifications) Spalletti expressed his intention to leave. Nine days later Spalletti resigned and together with the Club they made an effort to find painless solution to leave for good.

Serse Cosmi, 47, replaced the Tuscan: former Arezzo, Perugia, and Genoa coach, his staying in Udine was unlucky. His adventure started well as Udinese beat some big Italian teams, being concrete on the pitch and also qualifying for Champions League, beating Sporting Lisbona (finalist in UEFA Cup) twice. On the first leg Udinese's adversaries were such names asBarcellona, Werder Brema, Panathinaikos. The bianconeri finished the first round in third place. Their disappointment at losing to Barcellona at home was huge: winning would have meant second place. A home draw would have been enough, too, considered that 5 minutes to the end the score was still 0-0.
 
Unfortunately after this exploit, Udinese inverted their course winning less and less and their victory over Sampdoria on 21 December 2005 proved just an illusion. The following year (2006) began with a serious home defeat to Reggina (1-2) . It was fatal for Cosmi who was sacked. The Club hired Loris Dominissini and Sensini was the technical advisor.
Supporteres loved the new coaching staff. Dominissini, former bianconero and Zico's team mate, was a trueborn Friulian, Sensini was just a myth. The adventure of the duo started right. After 1-1 away draw to Lazio, Udinese gave the impression of a rebirth both for their minds and physical strenght. The following Thursday in UEFA Cup Udinese palmed off to Lens no less than three shots. Supporters grew crazier and crazier, but the strenght of the team turned out to be an illusion. Eight days later Udinese suffered bad home defeat against Siena (2-1) and on 23 February lost to Lens, 1-0 on the UEFA return match. Despite this episode, Udinese qualified all the same for the next round. On the field Dominissini and Sensini's men were about to face the nerazzurri, but the match ended up 1-3. The next match day against Ascoli at home, the pitch was unfit to play, soaked because of the heavy rain. Di Natale at the 32' of the second half got a great chance and scored a fundamental net for his team. Unfortunately the game was not over yet. Domizzi dove down on the pitch without even being brushed by Defendi. The referee Rosetti was taken in and conceded the adversaries a penalty: Domizzi shot the ball right into the net.

The following Thursday Udinese were engaged against Levski for the first leg of UEFA's round of sixteen. The adversary team did not seem too hard, but the Bulgarian team actually proved strong and the game ended 0-0. The following Sunday, Udinese suffered a bad defeat in Palermo. The Sicilian team took advantage on some defence mistakes and won 2-0. The situation fell headlong although Udinese were far away from the relegation area. It was above all the players' state of mind the most worrying aspect: they seemed so scared of facing any team. In the return leg in Bulgaria they lost 2-0 to Levski and were eliminated from UEFA. The worst was still to come on Sunday 19 March when Milan overwhelmed the bianconeri at Friuli almost effordlessly, scoring no less than 4 nets.

Galeone's coming back

The team was in mental confusiona, Sensini and Dominissini resigned. Gianpaolo Pozzo called Giovanni Galeone back: he was not only known to be a great professional but also a motivator, a fine psychologist. The choice proved right despite some supporters and media were skeptical about it, Galeone regenerated the players' mind, modified some tactical approaches going back to the 4-man-defence, Candela was elected to be the "director" of the renewed orchestra. The very next day Udinese lost 1-0 to Inter in Milan despite a great performance, much better than nerazzurri's. Losing in this way tasted of a bitter hoax.
The next Sunday in Messina Udinese needed to reach salvation area and managed to drew: the squad showed how they had recovered after Galeone's return. The team and Galeone's enterprise was complete during the three following matches, three winning matches: 2-0 to Parma at home, 2 -0 in Livorno, 2 - 1 against Lecce. Udinese gained salvation despite the common talking claimed the team had given up.

The bianconeri's lucky series went on as they drew at home to Chievo (1-1) and then in Genoa again, they then managed to beat Cagliari at home (2-0). The very last match day they lost 1-2 to Treviso also due to Muntari's expulsion. Galeone's outcome was however positive, 15 points out of 8 matches, an average that usually belongs to big teams, usually able to win Champions League qualification.

Galeone also trained the Friulians in 2006-07. Full trust was placed in Udinese, whose lineup was first class: Zapata, Felipe, De Sanctis, Pinzi, Obodo, Muntari, Iaquinta, Di Natale. The beginning of the tournment was good, despite having lost the very first match. The following two months saw good scores, also drawing 0-0 to Inter. Then something started to go wrong, the squad lost position after position and after losing 0 - 2 in Palermo, Gianpaolo Pozzosacked Giovanni Galeone whose post was handed over to Alberto Malesani. The former Panathinaikos coach also changed the tactical module: 4-3-3 was abandoned in favour of 3-5-2 scheme, which soon seemed to work. Udinese stood up fiercely beating Messina and Torino, but they soon came back to some bad habits. In April Obodo got seriously injured to his right knee. Together with their top midfielder, the team lost the possibility to compete in European Cups as well. The bianconeri lost to Catania (trained by Marino), Atalanta and Palermo finishing the season up ungloriously.

Pozzo, deeply disappointed decided to place his trust in the notorious Muntari and Iaquinta and hired a new coach, Pasquale Marino, who managed to grant his former team's salvation in Catania. The team was enriched with young talents: Eremenko joined from Siena, Boudiasnki from Juventus, Inler from Zurich, Floro Flores from Arezzo, and Fabio Quagliarella from Sampdoria.

Back to Europe

Marino.jpg
Pasquale Marino
The start of the 2007/2008 sports season is encouraging after the 1-1 tie against Italy champions, Inter, which creates a wave of enthusiasm, but the next round is a cold shower for Udinese as they are overwhelmed by Napoli's 5-0 at home, which leads Marino to change the game plan: the 3-4-3 game plan substitutes the initial 4-3-3. It is a clever move and Udinese impose their game, the strenght of their players, getting to the higher places of the ranking. The Friulian team soon enjoy great football again. Coached by Pasquale Marino, Udinese rank seventh for two years in a row and qualify for the last edition of the UEFA Cup in 2008/2009. The path of Udinese in Europe is thrilling with a series of prestigious wins to Borussia Dortmund, Spartak Moscow, Tottenham, Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar Donetsk.
The 2009/2010 sports season is full of ups and downs, and Antonio Di Natale becomes the top striker having scored 29 goals (an average of one goal every 110 minutes). Udinese is represented in the South Africa World Cup by 8 players: Di Natale and Pepe with Italy, Sanchez and Isla with Chile, Asamoah with Ghana, Inler with Switzerland, Lukovic with Serbia and Handanovic with Slovenia, plus two players owned by the Club: Orellana (Chile) and Mensah (Ghana).
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