Udinese & Granada: August round-up
With August coming to a close, Vital Watford, as promised, bring you up-to-speed on the last month at our sister clubs, Udinese and Granada.
It`s been a slow start to the season for the Zebrette with Francisco Guidolin`s side crashing out of the Europa League on Thursday evening, with the group stages yet to begin.
A 1-1 draw in Czechoslovakia against Slovan Liberec - ironically Daniel Pudil`s first club - saw Udinese fail to reach the group stages of the competition following a 3-1 defeat by Slovan in the first leg in Trieste.
Incidentally, Udinese will be playing in nearby Trieste this term with their Stadio Friuli base out of action as renovation work continues on the ground, which will see its capacity reduced to 25,000 ahead of the 2014/15 campaign.
On-loan Internazionale midfielder Andrea Lazzari equalised after Dzon Delarge`s opener, but Udinese`s cause wasn`t helped by the sending-off of midfielder Roberto Pereyra midway through the second-half.
Delarge had scored in the first leg victory in Italy, with strikes from Sergiy Rybalka and Ondrej Kusnir cancelling out wing-back Gabriel Silva`s strike.
In the previous round, Udinese had eased past Bosnian outfit NK Siroki Brijeg 7-1 on aggregate, with former Watford loanee Matej Vydra scoring his first goal for the club before heading to the Premier League on-loan with West Bromwich Albion.
As well at the departures of Joel Ekstrand, Marco Cassetti, Almen Abdi, Cristian Battocchio, Gabriel Angella, Davide Faraoni, Javi Acuna and Diego Fabbrini to Watford, Udinese have also seen centre-half Mehdi Benatia join Roma in a €13.5m swoop, whilst wing-back Juan Cuadrado has joined Fiorentina for €5m.
Highly-rated young Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Pawlowski has moved out on loan, joining Latina Calcio, whilst Nigerian hitman Odion Ighalo has returned to Granada on loan for the fourth consecutive season.
Ighalo, 24, had been subject of interest from Premier League sides over the summer, but after scoring 15 times in 48 league starts for the Andalusian side across his last three stints, Ighalo has returned to Los Carmenes once more.
In Serie 'A`, Udinese were beaten on the opening Sunday of the season, beaten 2-1 at Lazio by goals from Hernanes and former Zebrette midfielder Antonio Candreva. Luis Muriel got Udinese`s response just after the hour, but Guidolin`s men were unable to force the leveller.
Udinese are back in Serie 'A` action on Sunday September 1, when they host Parma.
In Spain, Granada have had a better start to the La Liga season, winning their opening game of the new season before losing 1-0 to Carlo Ancelotti`s Real Madrid in their second game of the season.
Coach Lucas Alcaraz has overseen a busy summer transfer window, adding quality and experience to his squad with the additions of Deportivo la Coruna attacker Riki, Rayo Vallecano midfielder Piti and former Malaga midfielder Manuel Iturra.
Former Manchester City and Barcelona prospect Gai Assulin has also signed on a free transfer and the Israeli attacking midfielder will play with the club`s Juvenil side as he continues his development.
The aforementioned Ighalo has returned, but perhaps most pleasingly of all, highly-rated left-back Guilherme Siqueira remains on the books despite reported interest from the likes of Liverpool and Real Madrid.
With the transfer window days away from closing, Alcaraz will hope to keep the 27 year-old Brazilian until January at least.
Onto La Liga action and El Grana began the season in the ideal fashion, beating Osasuna 2-1 away from home.
Goals from Yussef El-Arabi and former Portsmouth defensive midfielder Hassan Yebda won through for the visitors, who held firm after Punal`s second-half strike reduced their advantage.
On the evening of Bank Holiday Monday, Real Madrid came to town and despite going 1-0 up after just 10 minutes through Karim Benzema, Ancelotti`s Galacticos were unable to build on their bright start.
Next up for Granada is a trip to Celta Vigo - former employers of Manuel Almunia - on Saturday evening.