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

Owen Neilson On November - 3 - 2011

Serie B Focus: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Sampdoria thought it had left the Wild West of Campania behind when the players boarded the plane to Liguria; the in-flight meal a digestion of the 4-2 thrashing meted out by Nocerina. But after arrival, when passing through the Christopher Columbus Airport they were met not by smiling wives and girlfriends, but an aggressive mob intent on violence.

CCTV in the airport confirmed a volley of eggs and vegetables preceded an all out attack which left defender Andrea Rispoli missing a tooth and Hungarian midfielder Zsolt Laczko, bruised and battered. The whole squad was understandably disturbed and there still hasn’t been a satisfactory explanation for why there was no security to protect the players.

Club officials were quick to condemn the violence, as if there were any other course, saying  “The Sampdoria fans have always supported the colours strongly. We understand the frustration and helplessness of our fans after last season, but we ask everyone to express their legitimate dissent without it transcending into violent acts. ” One wonders why such a statement needs to be first qualified with a nicety, welcome to calcio.

On Monday the Mayor of Genoa took a more pious view, “Episodes such as [what occurred on] the Sabbath can only make us ashamed.” Though she did also say the eggs were an acceptable form of protest in an interview with Il Secolo. I’m glad that’s been cleared up, fighting ‘no’, food-based missiles ‘yes’.

This isn’t the first time fans of the Blucerchiati have expressed their frustration in such confrontational fashion. In April, as the side travelled back to Genoa after a 3-0 defeat to league leaders Milan the team coach was attacked by sticks and stones while players received death threats.

So what’s the beef? After a solid start of three wins, three draws and fourteen goals an instant return to Serie A looked plausible under new coach Gianluca Atzori. However, the following six games produced only one win, including a home loss to rivals Torino and clearly the Nocerina result forced some of those devoted fans, the ones that didn’t travel to support their team, to exact retribution.

Atzori placated the home support with a 2-0 mid-week win over Crotone, but defeat in their next game could see nastier things than eggs flying.

That’s because they face fellow relegated side Brescia, another to begin well, with four wins and four draws, but the Rondinelle has suffered a spectacular collapse in October.

Coach Giuseppe Scienza might have been glad to avoid the gloom of the graveyard on All Souls Day; when Italy commemorates its dead, but the trip to Varese ended in his fifth consecutive defeat.

It’s been 412 minutes since Brescia scored a goal, a run that’s seen them slip from third to twelfth and sixteen points behind leaders Torino.

The forward pairing of Feczesin and Jonathas have four goals each but in the five game run, Brescia have had 70 shots with only 21 on target, while Scienza has deployed three different pairings in central defence. The 4-3-2-1/4-3-1-2 formation relies on the mobility of the wide midfielders in-front of the defence to support the forwards, but as with Chievo in Serie A, too often the attacking trio become detached and easily outnumbered.

Saturday’s game against Sampdoria is likely to be Scienza’s sixth life, if he doesn’t get a result against bottom of the table Ascoli he’s certain to be taking a trip to the Serie B cemetery.

At least there’s Pescara. While Torino continues to grind out unimpressive wins, Zdenek Zeman, who’d make a mean Clint Eastwood at Halloween, is leading the form and style table with nineteen points from the last seven games.

The Czech is nurturing some of the league’s most dangerous attacking talent in Lorenzo Insigne and Ciro Immobile, and has given fresh life to 31 year-old striker Marco Sansovini. The Dolphins have scored thirty-two goals in thirteen games and while there was concern after Immobile picked up an injury in the 4-1 win over Ascoli, Sansovini now jointly leads the goal scoring charts after getting his fifth in three matches against Varese. All nine of his strikes have come at home and the Stadio Adriatico was at its fullest on Tuesday, with over 15000 witnessing the latest chapter in the Zeman revolution.

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