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Empoli logo
Serie A | Gameweek 26
Mar 11, 2023 at 2pm UK
Stadio Carlo Castellani
Udinese logo

0 - 1

Luperto (28'), Fazzini (74')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Becao (54')
Bijol (19'), Becao (45+3'), Beto (67'), Lovric (73')

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

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

Both contesting a tightly-packed section of the Serie A standings, mid-table rivals Empoli and Udinese meet at Stadio Carlo Castellani on Sunday.

While the hosts have slipped to 14th after a run of six games without a win, their 10th-placed visitors have barely fared better, taking just four points during the same spell.

Match preview

Empoli coach Paolo Zanetti on February 25, 2023© Reuters

Empoli's winless streak was extended last weekend, after an away loss to Monza left hopes of a top-half finish receding still further.

Though young striker Martin Satriano - on loan from Inter for the season - hauled Paolo Zanetti's men level after they had gone behind in the 19th minute, their hosts struck back through an Armando Izzo header, marking the ninth time Empoli have conceded following a corner this season.

Though they still sit 10 points clear of the relegation zone, the Azzurri have not won once since upsetting Inter back in January, and only Serie A's bottom four have scored fewer goals this term.

Having drawn five of their games since the winter break, Empoli's lack of firepower has often seen them fail to turn one point into three, with teenager Tommaso Baldanzi being the Tuscan club's top scorer on four goals - the 19-year-old only became a regular just before the World Cup.

Nonetheless, victory on Saturday afternoon would pull them to within a point of Udinese, against whom Empoli have won each of their last three Serie A meetings at Stadio Castellani.

Udinese coach Andrea Sottil on February 18, 2023© Reuters

One of Baldanzi's quartet of goals came at the start of January's reverse fixture, in which Udinese salvaged a point on home soil when captain Roberto Pereyra scored a 70th-minute equaliser.

Since then, Andrea Sottil's side have continued to toil, with their only victory coming against Serie B-bound Sampdoria, but they have not lost too many games either.

Sottil saw his team hold former club Atalanta to a 0-0 draw in Bergamo last time out, prolonging a sequence which makes Empoli's propensity to draw matches seem almost incidental.

After Marco Silvestri made a series of saves to preserve a point against La Dea, no club has drawn more times than Udinese across Europe's top five leagues this season: since October they have tied 10 out of 18, level only with Ligue 1 side Reims.

As a result, the Bianconeri have posted just one win from their last 17 in Serie A, yet they are still clinging on to a place in the top half. Having failed to score in five of their last nine away games, though, a front line missing star man Gerard Deulofeu must start coming up with goals soon if they are not to sink further down the standings.

Empoli Serie A form:

Udinese Serie A form:

Team News

Filippo Bandinelli celebrates scoring for Empoli on September 12, 2022© Reuters

Though Francesco Caputo's output has declined over the past year, Empoli's 35-year-old striker should start up front on Saturday, having been directly involved in five Serie A goals against Udinese previously - three of his own and two assists.

Roberto Piccoli is also in contention to partner Martin Satriano, but both Mattia Destro and Nicolo Cambiaghi may remain absent through injury.

After suffering the last-minute loss of goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario to a rib injury just before the meeting with Monza, scans have shown no serious damage has been done, so the hosts could have their much-coveted number one available. Should he be unable to play through the pain, last week's debutant Samuele Perisan - formerly of Udinese - will cover again.

The visitors, meanwhile, have Kingsley Ehizibue back from suspension, so Festy Ebosele is likely to drop down to the bench despite his impressive performance against Atalanta.

On the left flank, Tottenham Hotspur-bound Destiny Udogie starts again, though Marvin Zeegelaar recently re-signed for Udinese as a free agent to cover for the Italy Under-21 international.

Gerard Deulofeu and Enzo Ebosse are still sidelined by injury, while Roberto Pereyra has been struggling for several weeks with a muscular problem which means he may not be able to complete the full 90 minutes.

An integral part of the Bianconeri's back three, Jaka Bijol has made 117 clearances in Serie A so far this season - fewer only than Lecce's Federico Baschirotto (129).

Empoli possible starting lineup:
Vicario; Ebuehi, Luperto, Ismajli, Parisi; Akpa Akpro, Marin, Bandinelli; Baldanzi; Caputo, Satriano

Udinese possible starting lineup:
Silvestri; Becao, Bijol, Perez; Ehizibue, Samardzic, Walace, Pereyra, Udogie; Success, Beto

SM words green background

We say: Empoli 1-1 Udinese

The last five league meetings between Empoli and Udinese have averaged nearly four goals per game; however, Saturday's clash at the Castellani could be a more cagey affair. Neither side is fluent up front, with both drawing their fair share of games, so a share of the spoils is on the cards.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 2.5 goals 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.Under 2.5:data

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