Udinese Calcio have had a horrible start to the season, which has seen more notable departures, than additions. Players like Seko Fofana, Rolando Mandragora, and Guiseppe Pezzella have already left the club for pastures anew, and it could have been much worse, had their star player, Rodrigo De Paul left for the Premier League, as Leeds chased his signature for the best part of September. With no significant additions, their start to the season seems justified as they sit in the relegation zone, with no points to their name in three games after they recently lost at home to AS Roma 1-0 in Serie A.

AS Roma sit mid-table after three games with one loss, one draw and one win from their first three games. Paulo Fonseca is in his second season in charge at the Stadio Olimpico as he looks to continue rebuilding his side. With Roma having quite a busy window, they still haven’t brought in their main target in defence, Manchester United‘s Chris Smalling, and would be a little concerned if they can’t get it done before deadline day. With additions like Carles Perez, Marash Kumbulla, Gianluca Mancini, Pedro, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, it looks a good window for AS Roma, as all key inflows would be a key part of their first team. And players like Florenzi, Schick and Kolarov, potentially Kluivert among other players being moved on to balance the books. It will be a demanding second season as they look to find their way back into the Champions League.

In this analysis, we take a look at the tactics employed by Luca Gotti and Paulo Fonseca for their respective sides. This is the tactical analysis of the match played between Udinese Calcio and AS Roma.


Serie A 2020/21: Udinese Calcio vs AS Roma - tactical analysis tactics

Juan Musso started in goal for Udinese, with Rodrigo Becao, Sebastian De Maio and Samir completed the back three ahead of him from right to left respectively.

Hidde Ter Avest and Thomas Ouwejan started in the right and left wing-back roles respectively.

Rodrigo De Paul, Tolgay Arslan and former Juventus midfielder Roberto Pereyra filled in the central midfield roles.

Stefano Okaka and Kevin Lasagna started up top completing the starting 11 for Udinese Calcio.

Antonio Mirante started in goal for Roma, with Marash Kumbulla, Roger Ibanez, and Gianluca Mancini completing the back three ahead of him from left to right respectively.

Davide Santon and Leonardo Spinazzola started on the right and left wing-back roles respectively.

Jordan Veretout and Lorenzo Pellegrini started in central midfield.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pedro started behind Edin Dzeko completing the starting 11 for AS Roma.

Udinese’s counter-attack dependence

In a season where they would be hoping that they don’t get dragged into a relegation dogfight, they need to find their rhythm and groove, as the opening three weekends aim to be suggesting that this will be another long and arduous season ahead for them, with three defeats from three, it looks a long dark road ahead.

It would be an embarrassing defeat for Udinese and its players and coaching staff as Roma outplayed them at their stadium and they didn’t even make an attempt to take the game to their opponents. They employed the tactic of defending narrow and got everyone behind the ball to disallow Roma the opportunities to play through them. Their setup was compact and very defensive as they were looking for a smash and grab against their visitors.

The positive notes for the side were that they were solid defensively, and defended well every time they were threatened in and around the box. They marked players very loosely which would force them to give away free-kicks because of their rash attempts to win the ball back. They didn’t employ a press to their system in the first half as their PPDA was a staggering 16.2 compared to the second half with an improved 8.8 and had no aggression when they were closing down the players. They afforded their opposition plenty of time on the ball, which was utilised very well to their disadvantage. Whenever Roma players would run at them with the ball, they would back off instead of challenging for them, scared to give away free-kicks. They man-marked their opponents and tracked them well in their half.

Apart from their defending, which they did very ably and diligently, most of the team played like passengers looking to get through the game as quickly as possible without having to do much and earn a point in the process. They would often get trapped in their half as AS Roma would find it relatively easy to keep the ball and push Udinese into their half, and even into their defensive third.

Serie A 2020/21: Udinese Calcio vs AS Roma - tactical analysis tactics
Udinese players, behind the ball sticking to their compact shape.

Rodrigo De Paul was one of their brightest players on the pitch, as he was involved in everything good that they conjured up in an attempt to stay in the game. He worked very hard defensively, as he would regularly track back to support the defence. He would be the creative force for the team, picking passes to send his attacking compatriots into the final third and into dangerous positions. He would send the ball through to the strikers to get them on their way but it didn’t yield anything fruitful.

Serie A 2020/21: Udinese Calcio vs AS Roma - tactical analysis tactics
Rodrigo De Paul looks to play a through ball to the strikers behind Roma’s defence.

In attack, the wing-backs played as wingers whenever they got the ball up into the final third. They had based their attacks solely on the counters for most parts of the game, only late in the game did they try to take the game to Roma. They had a lot of space to run in behind the opposing defence, and the midfielders would arrive late into and around the box to support the attack. The strikers usually played off of each other, as one would stay central and often drop deep to support the team, while the other would go wide and maintain pressure on the opposing defence to ensure that they could exploit every counter-attack chance they could conjure up.

Serie A 2020/21: Udinese Calcio vs AS Roma - tactical analysis tactics
wing-backs playing as wingers, and the strikers looking for balls to run onto.

They created a few great chances but they weren’t taken well, and they got into the game very slowly to make a difference to the end result, but they did start finding ways to threaten the Roma goal. But ultimately, they lost due to their own mistakes as they didn’t close down Pedro which gave him the split second, he needed to take a shot and find the back of the net from outside the 18-yard box. For all their solid defending, the goal that they conceded highlighted every mistake that they had made throughout the full 90 minutes against AS Roma.

Serie A 2020/21: Udinese Calcio vs AS Roma - tactical analysis tactics
everyone looks to get in the box as soon as a ball is played in.

Roma’s play through Udinese

They put in a performance Paulo Fonseca would be nervously proud of, as his side managed to get a good result from a good performance, but one that at the very least highlighted how they can be exploited. Even though it was a one-sided match except for brief moments, Fonseca would be hoping to learn and fix whatever little bugs need fixing in his system as he looks to take his side to the next level.

A solid and strong display from Roma, they made the most out of the chance they got to showcase what they are all about under current management. Slick passing moves, silky attacking displays, dictating the tempo, utilising the ball effectively, retaining and recycling possession effectively and efficiently. This was an exhibition match for them to highlight the best about their side and system.

Serie A 2020/21: Udinese Calcio vs AS Roma - tactical analysis tactics
Solid defending allowed them to maintain their lead and keep their opponents at bay.

They were comfortable on the ball from the start and they have plenty of time to pick a pass and the current passing options as they were rarely under pressure to get the ball away from their own feet into a safer and less productive option. The wing-backs would effectively act as wingers, as they were the only source of width for the side all across the pitch. They would flood the box every time they got the ball onto the by-line in an attempt to find the back of the net.

Serie A 2020/21: Udinese Calcio vs AS Roma - tactical analysis tactics
AS Roma used Spinazzola effectively as he was heavily involved from the attacks coming down the left-hand side.

They would attack Udinese wave after wave, as they kept knocking for an opening goal. Veretout played deep as the focal point from where they would begin their attacks, as he was dictating the play and tempo of the match, with Pellegrini playing as a hybrid eight or 10 with the freedom to roam. Both Pedro & Mkhitaryan played as inside forwards off of Dzeko occupying and using the channel more often than the wide spaces.

Serie A 2020/21: Udinese Calcio vs AS Roma - tactical analysis tactics
Wing-backs providing width, and Pedro and Mkhitaryan playing as inside forwards, while Dzeko stays central.

They were very good defensively as the three centre-backs put in a solid shift, and dealt with any attacking threat ably and comfortably. It was a solid outing for them, but they did have to work for their money, as the space left in behind them due to their high defensive line seldom brought along opportunities to counter for their opposition. Their press intensity was not intense but certainly better than their opponents in the first half with their PPDA at eight, but they slacked off in the second half with their PPDA at an astonishing 15.1.

They did miss Smalling and his ball-carrying abilities, as he was often responsible in defence last season to carry the ball into the opposition half from deep into areas where he could pick a dangerous pass and start an attack. Spinazzola was heavily involved in the attack, as he would seldom fly up the pitch to provide a passing option and crossing point for his teammates and threaten the opposition. Dzeko played as a passing pin, as he would be used by many of his teammates to get passes for them as they continued their run into dangerous positions.

They did endure a few scares, as the chances that were created against them, were very good, and they could have easily been on the losing side, had their defence and goalkeeper didn’t put in a solid and commanding display.


An expansive and spacious game, it was a display of two contrasting tactics and playing identities between Udinese and AS Roma, with Roma enjoying the majority of possession at 57% to their opponents 43%. The xG portrayed the game with exactly the way it had been, with Udinese managing an xG of 0.52 to Roma’s 1.07. The share of shots between the two teams does show that Udinese weren’t as quiet as they looked to be in the game with nine shots taken, and keeping four of them on target, to Roma’s 13 attempted shots and a meagre three on target.