Liverpool vs. Udinese: Europa League Preview, Team News and Projected Lineups

Pradeep KumarFeatured ColumnistOctober 3, 2012

Liverpool vs. Udinese: Europa League Preview, Team News and Projected Lineups

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    European night beckons from Anfield, as Liverpool host Italian opponents Udinese tomorrow in a group-stage fixture of the Europa League.

    Still high on the five-goal result at Carrow Road the previous weekend, a young Liverpool side will want to stake their claim as legitimate challengers for the trophy against a struggling Udinese side.

    The kind of victory earned against Norwich City has once again set in motion the ferry of expectations amongst supporters, who will now want their side to carry on the good form into this midweek game.

    However, Brendan Rodgers—with one eye on the tricky encounter at home against Stoke City this Sunday—will be wary of losing senior players to injury.

    In any case, scroll through the next few slides to find out more about this exciting Europa league clash.

Team Form—Udinese

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    Udinese has had an indifferent start to the league campaign, with their only win of the season coming against powerhouse AC Milan, who are in a transitional period.

    In European cup competition, they lost on penalties to Portuguese outfit Sporting Braga, thus ceding their Champions League ticket.

    Their Europa League opener was a come-from-behind, hard-fought draw against Russian moneybags Anzhi Makhachkala.

    Francesco Guidolin, the Udinese manager, is widely tipped to field a similar side that drew against Genoa last weekend.

    Veteran Antonio Di Natale—dropped against Genoa following his bust-up with the gaffer—is tipped to start on the bench. But there is a possibility that might not happen.

Team Form—Liverpool

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    Liverpool’s Premier League form tasted a bit sweet as the Reds decimated an errant Canaries defence.

    The one plus-point for Rodgers is that he has been trying to yield results with what is quite possibly the youngest side in the whole of Premier League, and has been rewarded reasonably, too.

    For Liverpool, who secured an emphatic victory against Swiss side Young Boys in their opening group fixture, winning the Europa League may not be a priority.

    But the longer the run continues, the greater are the opportunities for the younger members of the squad to test themselves against quality continental competition.

    However, expect Brendan Rodgers to field a relatively inexperienced side, as he will look to rest the key players ahead of this Sunday’s encounter against Tony Pulis’ side.

Team News

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    Liverpool will be without Lucas Leiva and Martin Kelly, who are out for the long term.

    There was talk of Jose Enrique being ready to start after the Spaniard revealed taking injections to mask the pain in his knee.

    He is not a certainty, however, so expect Stewart Downing to act as LB for the game.

    Joe Cole, out with a hamstring injury since the season curtain-raiser, is touch-and-go for the game although he is back in training and has played a game with the under-21s.

    Fabio Borini, who missed the encounter against Norwich City due to a foot injury, has recuperated well and is ready to start.

    Jonjo Shelvey will be available for the game, as his three-game suspension doesn’t apply for European competition.

    Udinese's manager has a full strength squad at his disposal.

Line Up—Liverpool

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    Rodgers will be resting key figures of the squad, namely Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Daniel Agger and the like.

    Rodgers’ recent appraisal of Andre Wisdom puts the youngster in good standing to earn another start in the line-up.

    Similarly, other youngsters like Suso, Sterling, Morgan and Pacheco are well within a shot to earn themselves a start.

Line Up—Udinese

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    Francesco Guidolin will have one eye on the tough Serie A encounter against Napoli this Sunday, and that is definite to have an impact on his team selection.

    Antonio Di Natale may end up playing a part if the Italians go behind to the Reds early and are struggling coming towards the end of the game.

Prediction

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    Despite the Italians being tricky opponents on paper, expect Liverpool to succeed nonetheless.

    If not an emphatic victory, Rodgers’ young Red army has enough in their tank to run riot on their home turf against Udinese.

    SCORELINE: 2-1

    However, there remains a distinct scare that the Reds’ defence may yet again come up short against quality attackers.

    In that case, a draw where both teams score remains as feasible a prediction as the one above.