Udinese will be hopeful of securing their place in the next round of the Europa League when they go up against PAOK Salonika at the Stadio Friuli, however their preparations have been rocked with injuries to Mauricio Isla and Antonio Di Natale.
Udinese are still within touching distance of A.C Milan at the top of Serie A with just six points separating the two sides in first and fourth, but for now their challenge for the Scudetto is put to one side and focus on progressing closer to the final in Bucharest.
The Italian outfit saw their hopes of securing a place in the Champions League extinguished early on in the season as Arsenal knocked them out at the qualifying phase for European football’s leading club competition.
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Now having come through a tough group in second behind Atletico Madrid but ahead of Celtic, the Bianconeri will set their sights on making it to the round of 16 by beating a PAOK side that surprised more than a few by making to the knockout stages.
Tottenham and Rubin Kazan were hotly tipped to make it out of Group A and into the next stage of the competition, but a resolute defensive performance helped the Greek outfit secure a famous 2-1 win at White Hart Lane to set up a tie against Udinese.
The fact PAOK were able to go on and top the group from their illustrious rivals will give the visitors some hope they can repeat the trick against Udinese, but they go into the game on the back of a 2-0 defeat against Olympiakos last weekend.
Udinese meanwhile also suffered defeat against one of their main league rivals, with a 2-1 reverse against A.C Milan that made it back to back defeats in Serie A for Francesco Guidolin’s side following their 3-2 away defeat against Fiorentina – however their record of not losing at home during the Europa League group stages will stand them in good stead for Thursday’s tie.