Anji count on home strength to see them through
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
If FC Anji Makhachkala can maintain their fine home form against Udinese Calcio, they will clinch their place in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 with one Group A game remaining.
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FC Anji Makhachkala will reach the UEFA Europa League round of 32 if they can continue their fine European home form against Udinese Calcio in Group A.
• Anji top the section after four games, while Udinese lie bottom. Anji will qualify with a victory, while Udinese will be out if they lose and there is a winner in the other Group A game between Liverpool FC and BSC Young Boys.
• Anji drew 1-1 in Udine when the sides met for the first time on matchday one, in what was their first game against an Italian side. They looked to have prevailed courtesy of Daniele Padelli's own goal just before the break, but Antonio Di Natale ensured the spoils were shared with a typically predatory strike in added time.
• Udinese had played three previous games against Russian teams, winning 2-1 at FC Spartak Moskva in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup group stage before eliminating FC Zenit St Petersburg 2-1 on aggregate in the round of 16, Di Natale converting a penalty in the first leg.
• Anji lost only their second European game on matchday three, 1-0 at Liverpool, their only previous defeat being a 1-0 against Rangers FC in the first round of the 2001/02 UEFA Cup. They were the nominal home team on that occasion, but the tie was played as a one-legged affair on neutral territory in Warsaw due to security concerns in Chechnya, which neighbours Anji's native Dagestan.
• Anji's record in European games played in Russia is exceptional: they have won all five of their home fixtures this season without conceding a single goal.
• Udinese's recent away record has been poor, but they have already ended one other club's fine home run this season: their 3-2 win at Liverpool FC on matchday two was their hosts' first loss in 14 European home matches, and ended a run of 17 home games unbeaten in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League (qualifiers and play-offs included).
• Udinese have scored all seven of their group stage goals after the interval.
• Anji captain Samuel Eto'o knows Italian football well, having played for FC Internazionale Milano from 2009-11. He played in four Serie A games against Udinese, scoring once as his side recorded three wins and (on his last outing) a 3-1 away defeat.
• Anji coach Guus Hiddink achieved little of note as a midfielder, but as a coach has racked up six domestic titles and five domestic cups with his various clubs. The Dutchman has also led the Netherlands, South Korea, Australia, Russia and Turkey at international level and won the 1987/88 European Cup with PSV Eindhoven. He took charge at Anji in February 2012.
• Hiddink's record against Italian sides in 11 games as a club coach now reads W3 D2 L6.
• Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin was once an Italy Under-21 midfielder, and has played for – and coached – a large number of Italian clubs. He took charge of Udinese for a second time in 2010, matching a club-best third-placed finish in Serie A in 2011/12. He briefly coached outside Italy with AS Monaco FC in 2005/06.