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Pozzo round-up: Janaury

Pozzo round-up: Janaury
The New Year began in much the same fashion as the old one ended for Udinese, with their only two wins in January both coming in the Coppa Italia.

Not that either victory was insignificant, with the Zebrette disposing of both Internazionale and Milan in the competition, setting up a tie with Fiorentina in the next round - more of which in next month`s round-up.

Optimism for the New Year was in short supply just six days in 2014 as Francisco Guidolin`s men went down 3-1 at home to Hellas Verona.

Veteran Italian forward Luca Toni put Verona 1-0 up after just eight minutes, doubling the visitor`s lead six minutes before the break.

Attacking midfielder Roberto Pereyra reduced the arrears two minutes before half-time, but Udinese couldn`t make any further inroads on the deficit, finally condemned to defeat when Juan Manuel Iturbe struck 20 minutes from time to seal victory for Verona.

Next up was a visit from Internazionale with a place in the next round of the Coppa Italia at stake. Inter coach Walter Mazzarri rested a few of his bigger names - as did Guidolin, with Antonio Di Natale only named as a substitute - but it was by no means a weak Nerazzurri side which took to the field.

In the end, a 32nd minute strike from reported Watford target Maicosuel did the damage and set up a tie with Inter`s city rivals, Milan, in the next round.

Four days later, a trip to Sampdoria brought the Zebrette back down to earth, with Samp running out 3-0 winners.

Eder got the hosts off to the ideal start, converting a 16th minute penalty before adding a second two minutes after the re-start.

Daniele Gastalello got the third three minutes from time, but not before Udinese`s Allan and Gabriel Silva, as well as Sampdoria`s Roberto Soriano had all been dismissed for collecting two bookings apiece.

A visit from Lazio was next for Guidolin and co., shorn of the services of Silva and Allan, who were replaced by Douglas Santos and Gianpiero Pinzi respectively.

Captain Di Natale`s eighth-minute penalty appeared to provide the perfect tonic for the Zebrette, but a familiar pattern emerged when former Udinese winger Antonio Candreva levelled just after the hour.

Parity only lasted five minutes, with Ghanaian enforcer Emmanuel Aygemang-Badu putting the hosts back in front in the 68th minute.

Eight minutes from time - and just five minutes after coming on as a substitute - Andrea Lazzarri put through his own net to bring Lazio back into the game at 2-2.

In the 90th minute, soon-to-be Inter-bound midfielder Hernanes completed the comeback to hand Lazio all three points.

After beating Internazionale in the previous round, Udinese had the opportunity to complete a Milan double and reach the competition`s semi-finals when they travelled to the San Siro to take on Clarence Seedorf`s charges. Buoyed by a debut win against Verona three days earlier, Milan got off to the perfect start when Mario Balotelli opened the scoring as early as the seventh minute.

A determined Udinese dug out an equaliser via the same method four minutes before the break, Luis Muriel converting from 12 yards in the absence of Di Natale.

Twelve minutes before time, Nicolas Lopez secured the visitor`s progression, just three minutes after replacing Muriel.

January wound to a close with another Serie A defeat, Parma the victors on this occasion, with former Juventus striker Amauri getting the crucial strike five minutes before half-time.

Udinese were of course involved in two deals with Watford during the January Transfer Window, with Swedish international Mathias Ranegie joining the Hornets on a permanent contract after failing to find regular action with the Zebrette, and playmaker Alexander Merkel signing on loan for the remainder of the season.

One fairly major arrival was that of Granada`s former Portsmouth enforcer Hassan Yebda on loan.

Former Watford 'hall of famer` Neuton has joined Serie B side Novara in a co-ownership agreement.

Granada`s January was rather a mixed bag, claiming their biggest win of the season in their only victory that month.

The new year began in disappointing fashion for El Grana, who were beaten 3-0 at Almeria in their first La Liga fixture of 2014.

Sebastian Dubarbier put the hosts ahead in the 14th minute and as many minutes later, the lead was doubled from the penalty spot by Verza. Eleven minutes from time, Alex Vidal completed the scoring to get Lucas Alcaraz`s men off to a miserable start.

Nuevos Los Carmenes, Granada righted the wrongs of six days prior with a resounding 4-0 victory over Real Valladolid; not only their biggest margin of victory in La Liga this season, but the first time they had struck four in competitive action this season.

Jeison Murillo got the ball rolling after just 12 minutes, and 10 minutes later, on-loan midfielder Recio had doubled that advantage.

The Malaga man helped himself to a second 10 minutes after the re-start, before Youssef El-Arabi bagged the fourth 12 minutes from time to complete the mauling.

Next up was a goalless draw against Javi Acuna`s Osasuna. The on-loan Watford forward was only named as a substitute, playing the final eight minutes as Alcaraz`s side recorded back-to-back clean sheets for the second time this season.

A trip to the Bernebeau was next and Granada held their own against Carlo Ancelotti`s Galacticos, much as they had at Los Carmenes earlier in the campaign.

Eventually Cristiano Ronaldo struck shortly before the hour mark, before Karim Benzema added a little uneasy gloss to the scoreline for the expensively-assembled side.

With back-to-back clean sheets a none-too-distant memory and a respectable showing against Los Blancos last time out, a 2-1 home defeat by Celta Vigo came at a bitter blow to close out January.

Gustavo Cabral put the visitors ahead in the 28th minute, but El-Arabi levelled for El Grana four minutes before half-time.

Just as the tie looked to be drifting towards a draw, Augusto Fernandez dug out an 88th minute winner for Celta.

The January Transfer Window was a quiet affair for Granada, who sought to address their porous backline with the capture of Liverpool`s highly-rated young centre-half Tiago Ilori on loan for the rest of the season.

The 20 year-old Portuguese youth cap only joined the Reds from Sporting Lisbon in the summer for 7m.

Peruvian midfielder Sergio Pena, 18, arrived from Alianz Lima for 720,000 as one for the future, as did Colombian winger Alexis Zapata, who has since been loaned out to Serie A minnows Sassuolo.

Writer:Tom Bodell
Date:Monday February 10 2014
Time: 11:19AM

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