Udinese Calcio may be up against it after losing 2-0 at AZ Alkmaar in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie, but coach Francesco Guidolin is convinced his side can still progress if they stick to the principles that have served them so well this season.
Second-half goals from Maarten Martens and Erik Falkenburg have put the Eredivisie leaders in the driving seat, but the Zebrette, unbeaten in nine at the Stadio Friuli in this competition, maintain belief they can match their exploits of 2008/09 and reach the quarter-finals.
"We just have to play our own way," said Guidolin, whose charges are fifth in Serie A. "We have our recognisable style which has been so successful this season. AZ have a big advantage, but I know our players can score two or three times if they are 100% focused. We have to score as soon as possible and we have to be patient and wait for mistakes."
A major boost comes in the form of a fully-fit Antonio Di Natale. The club's top scorer with 18 league goals this term, Di Natale was only able to make an 80th-minute substitute appearance in the Netherlands. "Di Natale will be available," said Guidolin. "[Dušan] Basta unfortunately will not. Will I play three strikers? To be honest, I don't have three players for the attack."
Midfielder Giampiero Pinzi, meanwhile, is under no illusions over the size of the task facing Udinese. "This will be one of the most difficult matches of the season," he said. "We have to be brave. We have scored twice or more many times this season. We are prepared to play more than 90 minutes and we will practise penalty shoot-outs."
AZ, then, hold all the aces. Coach Gertjan Verbeek, though, is determined his side do not sit back on their lead. "We didn't come to Udine to defend," said the 49-year-old Dutchman. "Our philosophy is always to play as well as we can. Udinese will go for goal from the beginning but we are prepared. We are aware that we don't need to win here to progress. I don't mind if we lose if we still get to the quarter-finals."
Defender Nick Viergever backed up his coach: "We have played many tough matches like this, so we are calm and prepared to fight. We have enough quality to progress."
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