Udinese are convinced they can turn around their 3-1 first-leg defeat by Werder Bremen and book themselves a UEFA Cup semi-final place.
Udinese were floored by two fine goals from Bremen’s Brazilian playmaker Diego and a third from Hugo Almeida before a late strike by Fabio Quagliarella kept them in the tie. With the Italians now able to qualify with a 2-0 victory in Thursday’s second leg at the Stadio Friuli, striker Simone Pepe said that the mood of the players was defiant and upbeat. “We’re very confident about the return leg,” he said. “Everything is possible in football … and we really believe we can turn this result around. The goal we scored has shown us the way to an extent, because 3-0 would have been a bit more difficult. Now we’ve just got to roll our sleeves up.”
The Zebrette’s Brazilian captain Felipe shared that belief, but made it clear they had to make a better start if they were to make up for the missed scoring chances and the shortcomings at the back. “In Udine, it will be a different game, there we know how to play well,” he said. “Here, we created enough chances but just didn’t finish them off.” Almeida’s goal in particular clearly stuck in the throat, with the forward being able to latch on to a long ball upfield before bearing down on goal to score unchallenged. “We’ve got to pay more attention and be more compact next time, especially at the back,” Felipe said. “Their third goal was down to a mistake in positioning by the defence. We need to be more careful in the second leg.”
Udinese also know they will have to work harder on Diego, who had an outstanding game at the Weserstadion. “He did well to find the right angle for his first goal and his second was even better … he’s a brilliant player,” added Felipe. “We’ve got to watch out next time. We won’t be going for man-to-man marking – it’s not something we’ve ever done and we never will – but everyone is going to have make a bigger sacrifice.”
Looking ahead, he had no doubt about the optimism in the Italian ranks, saying: “It’s there, and it has to be because we’ve scored a goal and an away goal is worth a lot.” The scorer of that goal had more reason than most to be impatient for Thursday’s re-match. Well aware of his failure to take three clear-cut chances earlier in the game, Quagliarella said: “I feel sorry for the fans and I hope to make up for it in the second leg. I’m so angry inside I’d like to play that match tonight, but I’ll have to save it all up and turn it into something positive.”