MX23RW : Wednesday, June 16 20:22:13| >> :600:2277762:2277762:
Apr 17, 2021 at 2pm UK at Stadio Ezio Scida
Simy (68' pen.)
FT(HT: 0-1)
De Paul (41', 74')
Pereyra (48'), Forestieri (90+4')
De Paul (90+1')

Preview: Crotone vs. Udinese - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Serie A clash between Crotone and Udinese, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

After another high-scoring heartbreak last weekend, Serie A's bottom side Crotone hope to salvage some pride against mid-table Udinese on Saturday, as the Calabrian club are now surely doomed to demotion next month.

Improved fortunes in the second half of the season, meanwhile, have afforded their visitors a potentially stress-free conclusion to the campaign, though they will be determined to recover from suffering three straight losses.

Match preview

Serse Cosmi, now in charge of Crotone, pictured in 2012© Reuters

While never the most defensively secure side around - in fact their 'goals against' column (77) is comfortably the worst in Europe's top five leagues, with only Bundesliga basket case Schalke coming close - relegation-bound Crotone have leaked an incredible volume of goals in recent weeks.

Losing 3-2 on three occasions (plus 4-3 on the other) during their past four games, they have certainly proved a more spirited proposition under new manager Serse Cosmi, with thrilling climaxes becoming the norm when the Squali take to the turf.

The final nail in the Crotone coffin, though, was applied by one of the other teams promoted to the top flight last year, Spezia, on Saturday - with Cosmi's men now needing a miracle to avoid a quick return to Serie B.

Their 23rd defeat of the season came desperately late in the piece, at the hands of Serie A's surprise package, as the Ligurian side found two goals in the final few minutes to turn around a 2-1 deficit and condemn Crotone to a surely unbridgeable gap.

Currently 12 points from safety - four further away than when colourful coach Cosmi first arrived in the dugout last month - they had previously pulled level at 3-3 against Napoli and 2-2 versus Lazio before ultimately losing, while throwing away a two-goal advantage over Bologna in between.

Certainly, both of their main attacking protagonists - ungainly Nigeria striker Simy (now one ahead of Zlatan Ibrahimovic on 16 Serie A goals) and Brazilian forward Junior Messias - have been in peak form of late. Once averaging under a goal per game, thanks to their front pair's overdue return to prominence, Crotone have netted 14 in their last six.

However, nine defeats in their last ten outings have still accrued due to the Squali's calamity-prone defence letting in an average of over three goals per match during that spell.

Udinese head coach Luca Gotti pictured on February 14, 2021© Reuters

Still comfortably in mid-table despite a recent downturn, Udinese's loss against struggling Torino last time out was a third successive reverse for the Friulani - each coming by the margin of a single goal.

Andrea Belotti's penalty winner for the Granata and Adam Marusic's strike for Lazio just before the international break have been the only goals conceded by the Bianconeri in their last six games on home soil - underlining how coach Luca Gotti has shored up his defence since the turn of the year.

However, ahead of their trip to Calabria this week, the mid-table outfit have picked up just three wins on the road, due largely to their underpowered attack: one of the lowest-scoring units in the league, with five fewer than even their drop-bound hosts.

As a result of injuries, loss of form and a seemingly randomised selection policy by former Chelsea assistant Gotti, the lack of an effective front duo in his customary 3-5-2 have undermined hopes of a more productive campaign.

Though Udinese's top scorers are Argentinian midfielders Rodrigo De Paul (with six goals) and Roberto Pereyra (four), they should have little difficulty prising open one of the shakiest rearguards in Serie A history at Stadio Ezio Scida - even if the game did finish goalless when the clubs last met in December.

Crotone Serie A form:
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L

Udinese Serie A form:
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • L

Team News

Ignacio Pussetto in action for Udinese on April 2, 2019© Reuters

Udinese prepare for the trip south with most of their squad available - the exceptions being long-term injury victims Ignacio Pussetto and Mato Jajalo (both out until the end of the season) and possibly Dutch defender Bram Nuytinck, who was only fit enough for the bench last time out.

Injury-prone forward Gerard Deulofeu is also out, following the decision to send him for knee surgery this week, so Roberto Pereyra could again start in support of target man Fernando Llorente despite the pair's far from prolific output to date.

Kevin Bonifazi is set to continue in central defence if Nuytinck is unable to start, while Thomas Ouwejan and Marvin Zeegelaar are both pushing Nahuel Molina for an opportunity on the flank.

Crotone's Portuguese winger Pedro Pereira returns from a ban for accumulating yellow cards and may come back in for Salvatore Molina this week.

Meanwhile, midfield creator Ahmed Benali came off injured against Spezia and is in doubt with an ankle injury, though Squali coach Serse Cosmi otherwise has a full hand to pick from.

Azzurini starlet Niccolo Zanellato could cover for Benali if required, while on-loan forward Adam Ounas will again form part of a front trio with Simy and Junior Messias.

Crotone possible starting lineup:
Cordaz; Djidji, Golemic, Luperto; Pereira, Petriccione, Benali, Reca; Messias; Ounas, Simy

Udinese possible starting lineup:
Musso; Becao, Bonifazi, Samir; N. Molina, De Paul, Arslan, Walace, Larsen; Pereyra; Llorente

SM words green background

We say: Crotone 2-1 Udinese

Cosmi's Crotone can pick up just their fifth win of the season on Saturday - too late to spark ambitions of survival, but fair reward for all-in performances and attacking commitment of late.

Udinese are in danger of drifting towards the end of their mediocre campaign and could add another defeat to a worrying trend, as they are set to be outscored by their more potent hosts.

Top tip

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Juventus attacker Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during the Serie A clash with Benevento on March 21, 2021
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