Vital Watford look back at the month of December from a Pozzo perspective
DECEMBER was far from a classic for any of the Pozzo family`s clubs – Watford included – with both Udinese and Granada struggling in the middle of their respective league tables.
Perhaps spookily, Udinese – at the time of writing – are 12th in Serie A, Granada are 13th in La Liga and Watford are 14th in the Championship, albeit with 10 more points than either or their sister clubs.
We start this month`s round-up with Udinese, who took on two of the strongest sides in Serie A and were far from outclassed in the process.
December started in the cruelest possible fashion for the Zebrette with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of league-leaders Juventus, courtesy of a 90th minute goal from striker Fernando Llorente.
After a tough visit to the Juventus Stadium, a similarly intimidating task followed as Francesco Guidolin`s men headed south to take on Rafael Benitez`s Napoli.
Third behind runaway leader Juventus and Roma, the Neapolitans proved a tough proposition, racing into a 2-0 lead by half-time thanks to a brace from former Lazio and Internazionale striker Goran Pandev.
The Zebrette rallied though, and an own-goal from Federico Fernandez on the stroke of half-time got the visitors back in it.
In the 70th minute, young Brazilian midfielder Bruno Fernandes levelled the scores up at two apiece for just 60 seconds, before Blerim Dzemaili put Benitez`s men back in front.
With 10 minutes left, highly sought-after wing-back Dusan Basta stole a hard-earned point for Guidolin`s side with the equaliser.
After two tough away trips, a home game against seventh-placed Torino offered little respite, and the Turin side ran out 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Alexander Farnerud and Ciro Immobile.
The year ended ahead of the international break in positive note, however, with a first victory in four as Livorno were overcome 2-1 away from home.
Ahead after just 11 minutes through young Uruguayan forward Nicolas Lopez, the hosts levelled when Luca Siligardi struck just after the half-hour mark.
Udinese were not to be denied an all-important win, and in the 65th minute, centre-half Thomas Heurtaux made sure of the points.
Head coach Guidolin was linked with both Watford and Norwich City in December and despite revealing that he would take a step back for the good of the team if it was deemed necessary, he has denied rumours linking him with a post in England.
Midfielder Emmanuel Aygemang-Badu might not be so reluctant to leave Udine, however, with Premier League outfits Liverpool and Everton both understood to be amongst those seeking his services.
Serbian international ‘keeper Zeljko Brkic – who has returned from injury in recent weeks – is another to be attracting interest, with Serie A rivals Fiorentina believed to be interested in the gloveman`s services.
December began with a home defeat for Granada, beaten 2-1 by Sevilla at Los Carmenes thanks to goals from Carlos Bacca and Kevin Gameiro. Yacine Brahimi had levelled from the penalty spot for the hosts.
After that setback, back-to-back victories followed for El Grana with Segund Division strugglers Alcorcon comfortably dispatched with in the away leg of the Copa Del Ray last 16 match.
A brace from Odion Ighalo secured the first leg advantage for Lucas Alcaraz`s side, but the tie was far from over.
Victory over Alcorcon was built upon with a win on the road against Madrid outfit Rayo Vallecano.
Fran Rico put Granada ahead 10minutes before the break, and after Nacho Martinez`s 43rd minute red card, Granada completed the win a minute from time when Riki doubled their advantage.
A visit from Alcorcon in the return leg of their Copa Del Rey last-16 match followed, with the second-tier side winning 2-0 in normal time.
The tie continued into extra time, but neither side could force the issue with a decisive goal meaning penalties were required to decide the outcome.
Alcorcon emerged 5-4 winners on penalties to take their place in the quarter-final of the Copa Del Rey.
The year ended in defeat for El Grana, with Champions League qualifiers Real Sociedad running out 3-1 winners at Los Carmenes.
Former Arsenal forward Carlos Vela put Sociedad ahead in the 29th minute, but Granada equalised through Piti just eight minutes later.
Highly-rated French left-sider Antoine Griezmann re-established Sociedad`s lead three minutes before the break; Vela adding some gloss midway through the second half.
December saw Granada forward Piti named as part of Seleccion Catalana – the Catalan national side – for their 4-1 friendly win over the Cape Verde Islands at the back end of December.