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Lorenzo Vicini On April - 15 - 2011

A.C. Cesena: Saving Serie A’s Seahorses

With only six minutes left to play, the situation for Cesena was dire. Losing 2-0 away from home and down a man, the match seemed virtually over. But just when all seemed lost, the unthinkable happened. Two goals in the span of four minutes in stoppage time with the equalizer occurring on the very last kick of the game and the Seahorses secured a miraculous, but precious point. With six games left to play, can Cesena save themselves from relegation and obtain another year in Serie A?

The newly-promoted side led by Massimo Ficcadenti started off their Serie A campaign in grand fashion. After the third week of the championship, Cesena was shockingly in first place alongside last year’s treble winners Inter. While any dreams of a Scudetto run were naturally out of the question, the hope was that the Seahorses would be able to achieve safety. Unfortunately, after earning seven points from their first three matches, the squad obtained just 12 more for the rest of the first half of the season.

Entering into the return leg of Serie A, the Seahorses went into a free-fall. Ficcadenti’s men proceeded to lose five of their next seven games, only mustering draws in the other two. It seemed as if Cesena would find themselves in Serie  B straightaway after promotion. Yet, the team from Emilia-Romagna would not go down without a fight.

The Seahorses strung together an impressive run over the next seven games. Cesena won two games and drew four while only succumbing to one loss at the hands of Lazio. On top of earning ten points out of a possible 21, Cesena’s form was better than all of their other relegation battlers Lecce, Parma, Sampdoria, Brescia and Bari. For the Bianconeri, the hot streak could not have come at a better time. All of a sudden, the situation went from poor to promising.

Contributing to their successes have been the players who began to shine under Ficcadenti. The team has been buoyed first and foremost by the fantastic play of midfielder Marco Parolo. The 26 year old from Varese has played so well that he has become one of the hottest names on transfer wishlists of many Serie A clubs. Beyond Parolo, the Seahorses have started to score at a good clip thanks to Luis Jimenez and Emanuele Giaccherini.

Jimenez, no stranger to Italian football, has found a home at Cesena after several years of disappointment with a myriad of clubs and he currently is the team’s joint leading scorer. Giaccherini has made a name for himself with Cesena thanks to his good speed and ability to skip past defenders. His style of play allows him to perfectly complement any striking partner paired with him. Of course, the credit goes to many more players other than these three. The Bianconeri have a great deal of talent amongst their ranks like Davide Santon, Luca Ceccarelli and Alessandro Rosina.

And now, coming down the final stretch, Cesena has a very realistic chance at securing safety. In their remaining six games, the club only has two matches against teams in the top half of the table in Inter and Cagliari. The remaining four present a very favorable lineup: Bari, Bologna, Brescia and Genoa. Obviously, the two games against Bari and Brescia will be crucial in determining whether or not the Seahorses can escape relegation. With both clubs under Cesena in the table and both games occurring at the Dino Manuzzi, Ficcadenti and his players have to feel confident.

The final weeks of the Serie A season are poised to be as equally dramatic at the bottom as they are at the top. With nothing decided yet and direct relegation clashes taking place on an almost weekly basis, Cesena will need to continue their good form. It will be imperative for the Seahorses to focus on exhibiting the never-say-die attitude they have shown in recent weeks. If the same type of urgency displayed in the final minutes of the Palermo game can translate over to Cesena’s last six games, it will not be a surprise to see the Seahorses in Serie A next season.

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