Tuesday, May 24
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May 14, 2022 at 5pm UK at Stadio Friuli
2 - 3
Molina (26'), Mari (90+4')
Nuytinck (18'), Pereyra (72'), Arslan (90+5')
FT(HT: 1-2)
Verde (35'), Gyasi (45+3'), Maggiore (47')
Gyasi (19'), Kiwior (80')

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

:Headline: Preview: Udinese vs. Spezia - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Serie A clash between Udinese and Spezia, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Still not safe from relegation, struggling Spezia travel to mid-table Udinese on Saturday, following a run of four successive defeats.

Before their penultimate league fixture, the Aquilotti are just four points above the Serie A drop zone, while their hosts can still post a top-half finish.

Match preview

After a late collapse in their previous game - a 4-3 home defeat by Lazio - when Spezia arrived in Bergamo last weekend, they were still short of achieving their season's objective: survival.

Managing only a single shot on target - which resulted in Daniele Verde's first-half equaliser - the Ligurian side were ultimately beaten 3-1 by Atalanta, who have been vulnerable on home soil this term.

Leaving them 16th and suspended just above both Cagliari and resurgent Salernitana, their final two matches of the 2021-22 campaign could be decisive. With next week's finale coming against third-placed Napoli, the need to take points on Saturday evening is particularly pressing.

Spezia's second-ever season in Serie A has been far from plain sailing under head coach Thiago Motta, and an alarming dip in form has afflicted them over the past couple of months: since February, only rock-bottom Venezia have lost more times in Serie A.

Indeed, a run of nine defeats from their last 13 league outings - including each of the last four - means that Motta's men may need a win in Udine if they are to enjoy their closing game stress-free.

Since winning 1-0 in La Spezia to claim a rare away victory from September's reverse fixture, Udinese endured a worrying decline towards the bottom three, before recovering under new boss Gabriele Cioffi, who has led them to the safety of mid-table.

Having previously beaten Fiorentina and been narrowly edged out by Scudetto hopefuls Inter in a 2-1 defeat, last week the Bianconeri managed to hold mercurial Sassuolo to a 1-1 draw at the Mapei Stadium; going unbeaten in four consecutive away games for the first time since 2020.

A 77th-minute equaliser from the unlikely source of Dutch defender Bram Nuytinck added another point to Udinese's total, and keeps the Friulani within three points of a top ten place.

Trailing both Sassuolo and Torino by that margin heading into their final home fixture of the campaign, Cioffi's men are set to face Spezia's relegation rivals Salernitana on the last day, so could have a significant say in which team tumbles through the trapdoor to Serie B.

Thanks to their new coach's input, and the return to form and fitness of Spanish forward Gerard Deulofeu, that fate will certainly not befall 12th-placed Udinese, who are assured of their place on the Serie A start line for a 27th straight season.

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

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

Team News

Spezia coach Thiago Motta has been dealt a major blow ahead of Saturday's game, as he will be without his captain Simone Bastoni at the Dacia Arena due to a dislocated shoulder suffered against Atalanta last week.

Therefore, Polish full-back Arkadiusz Reca should be drafted in on the left flank, while regular goalkeeper Ivan Provedel is expected to return ahead of Jeroen Zoet, who enjoyed a rare start last time out.

Albanian striker Rey Manaj, in the penultimate match of his initial loan spell from Barcelona, will also hope for a recall up front; Janis Antiste could make way.

Meanwhile, Udinese are also forced into a change in defence, as Rodrigo Becao must serve a one-match suspension for accumulated bookings. That opens the door for Bram Nuytinck to start in the hosts' back three, following his goal as a substitute against Sassuolo.

First-choice centre-forward Beto is still struggling with a hamstring problem and remains a doubt, so Ignacio Pussetto should retain his place up front if Isaac Success stays sidelined by injury. Twelve-goal top scorer Gerard Deulofeu once again carries the Bianconeri's creative burden.

Udinese possible starting lineup:
Silvestri; Nuytinck, Mari, Perez; Molina, Makengo, Walace, Pereyra, Udogie; Deulofeu, Pussetto

Spezia possible starting lineup:
Provedel; Amian, Erlic, Nikolaou, Reca; Maggiore, Kiwior; Verde, Agudelo, Gyasi; Manaj

We say: Udinese 2-1 Spezia

Spezia's fight for survival may go down to the final 90 minutes of a testing campaign - depending on the results of their fellow strugglers - as they are likely to return from Friuli empty-handed, given an away record which features just four wins from 18 previous attempts.

Also conceding at a rate of over two goals per game on the road, the Aquilotti are set to be denied even a precious point by their hosts, who have improved offensively of late and tend to make the most of home advantage.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data

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