Improving Udinese eye Europa qualification

Udinese look to take one further step towards Europa League qualification when they face Palermo on Wednesday night.

Udinese vs Chievo: Medhi Benatia, Di Natale

After losing the likes of Jasmin Handanovic, Kwadwo Asamoah and Mauricio Isla last summer, the Zebrette expected it to be a year of transition, like many in the past as the big names moved on.

Yet following a run of five consecutive victories, they find themselves just a point adrift of the top five and another season in Europe, which their coach Francesco Guidolin claims would be nothing short of a miracle.

"Qualifying for the Europa League would be like winning the Scudetto," he said.

"If we were to finish fifth it would be an extraordinary achievement, even better than in recent years considering all of the difficulties we had to begin with."

Once again, Udinese have the one man who has remained faithful to them throughout to thank for firing them into contention for more memorable nights of European football at the Stadio Friuli.

Italy international Antonio Di Natale, who has turned down bids from several Serie A giants down the years to stick with Udinese, has scored 20 goals this season, and the club's president Giampaolo Pozzi.

He has no intention of seeing his side being weakened once again this summer.

"Di Natale has a contract for next year," he told Rai radio. "He is a complete player and I don't even consider the possibility of him not playing football again next season.

"He is a player like (Francesco) Totti."

Standing in their way are a Palermo side enraged by Sunday's defeat to Juventus which left them three points adrift of safety with three games of the season to go.

"Our only hope rests on tomorrow [Wednesday]," said striker Fabrizio Miccoli. "If we win, we have a good chance of doing it.

"It's our final chance. If we don't win, we are in Serie B. It is going to be a battle and everything depends on its outcome."

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