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Is Antonio Di Natale Feeling Golden?

CL: Udinese Calcio vs. FC BarcelonaLast year was not a very memorable year for Serie A side Udinese. Italy’s second oldest franchise struggled to fifteenth place results and were in much of the conversation of potentially relegated clubs heading into the last few months of the Serie A season.

And as bad a year as it was for Udinese regarding the league table, it certainly was a great year individually for Antonio Di Natale. The Italian national team forward not only led the league in goals scored last season (and was honored with the Golden Boot award), but Di Natale scored a dominant seven more goals then the next closest player (Diego Milito) and was one of only four players on his side to score multiple goals on the season.

So in other words without Di Natale’s brilliant effort, Udinese would likely be playing in Serie B this season. But can the brilliant performance be repeated by Di Natale once again this year and is the player worthy of the double Golden Boot?

Ironically, the most successful season as a team Udinese has experienced since Di Natale joined was his first year with the club in 2004/2005 when the forward scored the fewest goals of his career with the squad of 8 total. But funds have created a challenge for the once above average squad and in the last five seasons Udinese has not finished in the top four spots in the league and they have witnessed their overall form slightly dip over the last half of a decade.

And Di Natale’s offensive production can’t be blamed for the side’s drop in the standings over that span. Di Natale has reached double digit goal totals in the last four seasons although his side has only finished 10, 7, 7, and 15th over that span of matches.   

But offense hasn’t been the department that needs improvement this season although it would be nice for Di Natale to have the support. Only three teams finished last season allowing more goals then the 15th place squad and two of those teams are no longer on the top tier. So if Udinese wants to survive this year they might need even more than the league’s leading scorer to do so.

Creative Commons License photo credit: somma1977