Udinese vs Empoli preview & predicted XI: Can Okoye’s resilient Udinese conjure magic in Serie A relegation scrap?

Udinese vs Empoli, a clash of two teams battling to secure their Serie A statuses, goes down on Sunday at the Bluenergy Stadium.

Serie A has already crowned its champions, Inter Milan, and while there are still some slices of next season's European football pie to divvy up, the greatest thrills remaining can be found at the bottom of the table, where only Salernitana are conclusively out of the running for survival.

After taking five points from three games, the Friulani can defy the drop by beating their Tuscan counterparts, who sit just one point behind in standings.

Udinese vs Empoli preview & predicted XI: Can Okoye's Udinese conjure magic in Serie A relegation scrap?
Photo by Icon Sport

Here, we provide a preview of the game as well as a prediction of its outcome.

Quick stats

  • Udinese fans have certainly missed what it feels like to win a home game — they have not done so yet in 2024, with the most recent instance being a 3-0 drubbing of Bologna in December last year.
  • The Zebrette have drawn more games — 18 — than any other team in Serie A this season.
  • Empoli would have to go all the way back to February this year for their last away victory, when they visited Sassuolo and scraped a 3-2 result.
  • No side in Serie A has scored fewer goals this season than Empoli's paltry 26 — half as many as they have conceded.
  • Empoli have failed to score in eight of their last ten games. Since the beginning of March, they've had more scoreless matches than any other team in Europe's top five leagues.
  • Udinese have not lost any of their last three matches.
  • Empoli failed to score in 12 of their last 20 matches.
  • Empoli have conceded two or more goals in five of their last 10 away matches.
  • In their last six encounters, Udinese have secured three victories, Empoli has won once, and the remaining two matches ended in draws.

Match preview

It has taken Fabio Cannavaro four games since replacing Gabriele Cioffi as Udinese boss to record a victory — the club's first in seven games — and that came away at Lecce on Matchday 36.

Now the goal is to build on that bit of progress in the last two games of the season to ensure Udinese remain clear of the drop by the end of the campaign.

Beating their next opponent, fellow strugglers Empoli, would be a great boost in that regard. Udinese may be three teams ahead of the Florentine side, but only a point separates them, and they would do well to maximise this opportunity on their own patch to widen the gap and take another step towards safety.

Empoli, though, are still in the red. Davide Nicola's charges are the best of the bottom three, but that is no doubt a dubious distinction, one they need to do all they can to shed by racking up as many points as possible in the little time available.

Udinese vs Empoli preview & predicted XI: Can Okoye's Udinese conjure magic in Serie A relegation scrap?
Photo by Icon Sport

Empoli do seem powerless, their cause hopeless; winning is not something they have done often enough this season — just eight times in the league.

They would not find it any easier on this trip to face a Udinese side themselves desperate not to be sucked downwards, but that definitely should not stop them from daring.

Tyronne Ebuehi would, surely, have wished to be available to help dig Empoli, his club, out of these dire straits.

The Super Eagle has, however, barely featured since the start of the year, sidelined by a succession of injuries — the latest of which is a cruciate ligament tear that has kept him out of seven straight games and effectively ended his season.

Udinese vs Empoli preview & predicted XI: Can Okoye's Udinese conjure magic in Serie A relegation scrap?
Photo by Icon Sport

The hosts have three Nigerians — goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, right-back Kingsley Ehizibue, and forward Isaac Success — on their roster, and all are expected to not just feature, but start against Empoli.

Their contributions, Nicola would hope, goes some way in securing a positive result on this occasion.

Udinese vs Empoli H2H

Last 10 Games

October 2023: Empoli 0-0 Udinese

March 2023: Empoli 0-1 Udinese

January 2023: Udinese 1-1 Empoli

April 2022: Udinese 4-1 Empoli

December 2021: Empoli 3-1 Udinese

April 2019: Udinese 3-2 Empoli 

November 2018: Empoli 2-1 Udinese

January 2017: Empoli 1-0 Udinese

August 2016: Udinese 2-0 Empoli

February 2016: Empoli 1-1 Udinese 

Udinese vs Empoli prediction

The head-to-head is pretty even, with Udinese just edging it, while both have only won two of their last ten competitive games.

With all that context, this just does not feel like the kind of contest either side has what it takes to win.

Playing in front of their home supporters and needing a win to salvage their season and retain their Serie A status, we predict a victory for Udinese.

Predicted lineups

Udinese: Okoye; Ferreira, Bijol, Kristensen; Ehizibue, Walace, Payero, Kamara; Samardzic, Success; Lucca

Empoli: Caprile; Bereszynski, Ismajli, Luperto; Gyasi, Grassi, Maleh, Pezzella; Fazzini, Cambiaghi; Caputo

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Godfred Budu

Godfred Budu, a Ghanaian sports journalist, brings a dynamic perspective to the field with over a decade of experience. Having contributed to esteemed platforms such as Kickgh.com and Inkandkicks.com. Godfred is recognised for his insightful commentary and in-depth analysis of African football.
His passion for storytelling and commitment to accuracy have established him as a trusted authority in sports journalism in Ghana, captivating audiences with his engaging narratives and unparalleled expertise.
Godfred holds a degree in Integrated Development Studies (Social and Development Administration option) from the University for Development Studies, Ghana.