Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Owen Neilson On September - 23 - 2011

Serie B Focus - Sassuolo Rising Like Cream

After five games of SerieB there’s a predictable feel to the top of the table with Padova, last years’ losing play-off finalists undefeated along with two of the relegated sides Brescia and Sampdoria. Torino , under the stewardship of old hat Giampiero Ventura look likely to feature as do Reggina. Only three points separate the top nine places with Zdenek Zeman’s unpredictable Pescara bringing up the rear.
For all the familiarity and SerieA pedigree perhaps it’s something of a surprise to see Sassuolo with their feet up on top of the league after four wins and one defeat.

Coached by Fulvio Pea, another one of those swashbuckling slapheads that seem to abound in the Italian game, the Neroverde is enjoying its best opening since being promoted as champions of C1 in 2007-2008.

It is another remarkable achievement for a side whose history dwelt in SerieD and C2, but following a period of greater investment from benefactor Giorgio Squinzi, owner of Mapei, an adhesive and building material firm the club continue to progress.

Promoted from C2 in 05/06, Sassuolo finished second but failed to progress past Monza in the playoffs. Current Milan technician Maximiliano Allegri was brought in and the Black-Greens raced to the league title then added the Supercoppa di Lega with the coach picking up the ‘Panchina d’oro’ as best manager in the division.

Allegri was destined for SerieA, moving to Cagliari and was replaced by Angelo Mandorlini. In that first season in B, the club heralding from the heart of Emilia-Romagna stormed to the top of the league scoring thirteen goals in seven games, winning five and went on to finish just outside the playoffs. The following year they exceeded that, with recent Palermo casualty Stefano Pioli at the helm Sassuolo finished fourth only to lose 3-2 against Torino in the playoff semis.

Last year another new manager, three in fact but not the same trend. Daniele Arrigoni lasted only 7 games, Angelo Gregucci 32 before handing over to Paolo Mandelli for the end of the season. Sassuolo stumbled to 16th only two points clear of the relegation playoff.

In steps Pea this summer fresh from two seasons coaching Inter’s primavera for his first swing at Italy’s second tier. The remit was simply laid out by Squinzi in pre-season, “Our goal is promotion”.

So far so good? Yes and no. New signing Gianluca Sansone has looked a class act operating across the attacking third, and 18 year-old Richmond Boakye, on loan from Genoa opened the season with well taken goals. Meanwhile goalkeeper Alberto Pomini has been in peerless form between the sticks, demonstrating a resilience Mapei’s building division would be proud of. They looked fluid against Cittadella and suffered their only defeat thanks to a horrendous decision by referee Marco di Bello, awarding Verona a phantom penalty to win the match.

However wins over Vicenza and against Ascoli on Saturday were more than fortunate, particularly with Ascoli hitting the bar twice as they overran Sassuolo’s flimsy midfield in search of an equalizer. Pea’s 4-3-3 is reliant on the wide forwards making a five-man midfield to defend but both victories were received with a sigh of relief after a string of fine saves by Pomini and near misses from the opposition.

Sassuolo will have to tighten up defensively as the season progresses if they are to realize Squinzi’s dream of playing in the San Siro.

‘Thank you, Sir! May I have another’

A few weeks ago the atrocious decisions by Marco Viti, and Di Bello, mentioned above, left me wondering what would be done with the two errant officials. Zeman certainly cried loud enough for complaints to be heard, “In SerieB referees don’t measure up”, blasted the Bohemian, and lest we forget the revolutionists favourite weapon, a ‘panolada’ or waving of white handkerchiefs in silent protest, a tactic surely capable of nothing more than making tissue producers jealous. But both have been conspicuously absent from the refereeing roster in recent weeks. Perhaps they’ve been dispatched to polish the bald crowns of Italian football’s elite as punishment; either way, when they reappear I will be watching.

Where is Savio?

Ugandan-born German striker Savio Nsereko has apparently been traced to England. According to red-top newspaper The Sun, the player was tracked down by Interpol after spending £14000 in Liverpool casinos and strip joints! His family and officials from Juve Stabia contacted police after he disappeared two weeks ago and there were genuine concerns for his safety. On loan from Fiorentina, it seems certain now his contract at the SerieB side will be rescinded. That’s certainly one of the better ways to get fired.

One Response so far.

  1. Andrew says:

    Nice little round-up. Serie B is especially interesting to me with Zeman and Hellas there, but I didn’t know a lot about Sassuolo before reading your piece. Keep it up.

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