Relegation strugglers Lecce will be desperate to end an eight-match winless run when they welcome Udinese to Stadio Via del Mare on Friday night.
The hosts find themselves two points clear of the drop zone with seven games remaining, while the visitors occupy ninth place in the Serie A table – 14 points above Lecce.
It was always going to be difficult for Lecce to avoid this season’s relegation battle after gaining promotion from Serie B last year, as the Puglia outfit were among the favourites to go straight back down.
A run of two losses in 11 games between November and February allowed Marco Baroni’s men to dream of beating the drop, but the Giallorossi have failed to find a win since then.
In fact, Lecce have lost seven of their last eight matches while failing to score on six occasions, with last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at AC Milan leaving the club just two points above the relegation zone.
Having managed to win only two of their previous 15 league outings – suffering nine defeats in the process – Lecce will need to turn the tide soon, with Hellas Verona and Spezia gathering momentum below.
Unfortunately for Baroni’s men, they hold the third-worst home record in the division, having won just two of their 15 games at Stadio Via del Mare this term, so they could struggle to spark a revival on Friday.
Preview: Lecce vs. Udinese – prediction, team news, lineups
Udinese appear to be finding their way again after enduring a damaging mid-season run of one win in 17 league matches, having kicked off their campaign with six victories across the first eight games.
The Bianconeri head into Friday’s clash on the back of a comfortable 3-0 win over relegation-doomed Cremonese, with goals from Lazar Samardzic, Nehuen Perez and Isaac Success wrapping up the victory before half time.
Thanks to Sunday’s triumph, Udinese have avoided defeat in six of their last eight league outings, with victories over Empoli and AC Milan preceding the demolition of Cremonese.
It is worth noting that no team has recorded more draws than Udinese’s 12 this season, while only Napoli, Lazio, Juventus and Milan have suffered fewer defeats than Udinese’s nine.
With sixth-placed Inter Milan leading ninth-placed Udinese by 12 points, Andrea Sottil’s men would need a minor miracle to clinch European football, but they will back themselves to finish the season on a high note.
Lecce Serie A form:
Udinese Serie A form:
We say: Lecce 1-2 Udinese
Battling for their lives at the bottom end of the table, Lecce are expected to put up a decent fight on Friday, but Udinese should have enough quality to inflict an eighth defeat in nine matches on the relegation strugglers.