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Serie A Week 8 - 26/10/08 (14.00 UK)
Udinese - Roma
Stadio Friuli

These two teams couldn’t have had more different starts to the season. While the Udinese fans will be in good spirits at the Stadio Friuli with their side in second place, Roma are struggling in the bottom half of the table.

The Bianconeri are full of confidence and flying high at the moment. Their 2-2 draw at Lecce last week saw them surrender top spot to Inter, but they are still just two points from leading Serie A at this early stage.

Pasquale Marino’s side are looking particularly potent in attack, summed up by the fact that all three of their first-choice strike force were called up to Marcello Lippi’s latest Italy squad. The Friuli outfit’s defence will need to be wary of a Giallorossi backlash, but they have momentum on their side.

Marino has a couple of injuries, but neither will worry him too much. Reserve goalkeeper Emanuele Belardi is out along with midfielder Fernando Tissone, but given the form of Slovenian No 1 Samir Handanovic and Chilean youngster Mauricio Isla those absences shouldn’t be a problem. Elsewhere Antonio Di Natale should return to the starting XI after being rested in recent weeks, while Christian Obodo could appear as a substitute after making his comeback from his lengthy injury problems last week.

Roma are starting to recover from the injury problems that have compounded their poor start to the season. Julio Baptista and Marco Cassetti are the only injured absentees following captain Francesco Totti’s return, although Philippe Mexes will also be missing. The French defender still has two games to run on the three-match ban he received for insulting the referee after his red card against Siena.

Things just keep going from bad to worse for Luciano Spalletti and his Roma team. Their awful start to their campaign had already raised a few eyebrows, but last week’s 4-0 thrashing at the hands of rivals Inter, at the Stadio Olimpico no less, has sent the fans into fits of anger. However, away from that pressure they might have more luck at kick-starting their season, but they are running out of time, as they are already a massive nine points behind League leaders Inter.

Keep an eye on: Antonio Di Natale (Udinese) – The Italian international was recently handed the freedom of the city of Udine such is his impact and he will be full of energy after being rested at Lecce.

Last season: Udinese 1-3 Roma

Form guide: Udinese (D W W W D) Roma (W L W L L)
Udinese (probable): Handanovic; Ferronetti, Coda, Domizzi, Lukovic; Inler, D’Agostino, Isla; Pepe, Quagliarella, Di Natale

Roma (probable): Doni; Cicinho, Panucci, Juan, Riise; De Rossi, Pizarro; Taddei, Perrotta, Vucinic; Totti

Ref: To follow…

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