Friday, 28 November 2014

Serie B Review - Week 15

Week 15 last weekend in Serie B saw the results split between home wins and draws.  No away side went home with anything more than one point.  We start off in the Lazio region as Frosinone hosted Tuscan side Livorno.

There was no hint of the result to come when Livorno took the lead after 16 minutes.  A fine individual goal from Luca Siligardi put the visitors ahead after 16 minutes.  The lead was shortlived, however, as Il Canarini equalised a minute later through a Leonardo Blanchard shot at the far post.

Striker Federico Dionisi put Frosinone ahead on 38 minutes, slotting the ball home from 10 yards out. Lambrughi was sent off for Livorno for two yellow cards early in the second half to made the visitors task even harder.  Daniele Ciofani made it 3-1 from the penalty spot on 62 minutes after Soddimo was brought down in the area.  The game was as good as won then for Canarini but two late goals, from Paganini and Curiale made the final score 5-1 to the home side.  Frosinone stay second with this win, and Livorno are fourth.

Highlights -

Bari earned a vital win against Trapani, winning 2-1 at Stadio San Nicola.  The home side opened the scoring after 32 minutes through Cristian Galano.  The striker finished well after breaking past his man to slot the ball past the keeper.  Francesco Caputo put Bari two up on the hour mark as he scored from the penalty spot.  Matteo Manscosu reduced the arrears with ten minutes left,as he converted from the penalty spot to set up a tense finale, but i Biancorossi held on for the win.  Bari move upto 12th, Trapani are 9th.

Highlights -

Two goals either side of half time for Pro Vercelli was enough to earn them a win by two goals to nil against Virtus Entella.  Scavone put the home side ahead on 12 minutes, and Fabiano sealed the win with a goal on 65 minutes.  Vercelli move up to 10th, Virtus Entella drop to 19th.

Highlights -

Catania's revival under Guiseppe Sannino continued with a 1-0 win over Latina.  The only goal came after 10 minutes through Italian striker Emanuele Calaio.  This was Catania's third win in five games and it moves them upto 11th.  Latina drop to the bottom of the league after this defeat.

Highlights -

In the only other match to result in a win, Modena defeated Pescara 2-0.  A late double from Pablo Granoche sealed the points and the win moves Modena upto 13th.  Pescara are 17th.

All the other games ended in draws.  Avellino and Varese was goalless.  Brescia drew 3-3 with table toppers Carpi.  Perugia drew 2-2 with Ternana.  Three games finished 1-1, they were Spezia-Bologna, Virtus Lanciano-Crotone and Vicenza-Cittadella.


Avellino 0-0 Varese
Attendance 10,796
Bari 2-1 Trapani
Attendance 20,433
Brescia 3-3 Carpi
Attendance 5,600
Catania 1-0 Latina
Attendance 13,691
Frosinone 5-1 Livorno
Attendance 5,408
Modena 2-0 Pescara
Attendance 4,940
Perugia 2-2 Ternana
Attendance 16,124
Pro Vercelli 2-0 Virtus Entella
Attendance 2,740
Spezia 1-1 Bologna
Attendance 7,534
Virtus Lanciano 1-1 Crotone
Attendance 2,740
Vicenza 1-1 Cittadella
Attendance 6,502

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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Serie B review -Week 14

It was another exciting weekend in Serie B with plenty of goals flying in around the country.  The round up starts in Emilia-Romagna, as table toppers Carpi hosted lowly Cittadella at Stadio Sandro Cabassi.

Carpi ran out 5-2 winners in a totally dominant performance to remain in top spot.  Cittadella were four goals to one down at the break as Carpi ran riot.  Defender Riccardo Gagliolo opened the scoring after 25 minutes with a thunderbolt from outside the area, then fellow defender Simone Romagnoli made it 2-0 with a fine header .  Cittadella defender Filippo Scaglia pulled a goal back on 35 minutes after a hopeful punt forward resulted in a defensive mix up and he poked the ball home.

A quick fire double from forward Roberto Inglese then put the hosts 4-1 up.  The first was a finish from inside the six yard box, and the second saw a cool finish in the area.  It stayed that way until 83 minutes when Alessandro Sgrigna scored for Cittadella from the penalty spot and it was 3-2 with seven minutes left.  It was left to young substitute striker Kevin Lasagna, who made it 5-2 in injury time with a strike into the bottom corner.  This loss sees Cittadella drop to the bottom of the table, it's now no wins in 10 games for Citta

Highlights -

Frosinone suffered a surprise loss at Pescara 3-0.  The hosts totally dominated this game and ran out deserved winners.  After a goalless first half the game came to life in the second when Federico Melchiorri gave hosts lead for his seventh goal of the season.  He showed great strength to beat his man and burst into the box before slotting home.   Riccardo Maniero made it two from the spot on 64 mins and Cristian Pasquato sealed win three minute from time with a superb strike from outside the area.  Pescara move upto 12th, and this surprise defeat sees Frosinone stay 2nd.

Highlights -

Bologna suffered a defeat by two goals to one at home to Brescia.  A big crowd of nearly 15,000 turned up to watch this game and things were going to plan when Daniele Cacia put hosts in lead, with his fourth of season.  He reacted quickest to a parry from the Brescia keeper to put the hosts in front.  Bologna were heading for a win until two goals in last 10 minutes from Brescia snatched the points.  First veteran striker Andrea Caracciolo equalised, after heading home after a great cross into the six yard box, then Leonardo Morosini sealed the win with three minutes left. Again, the ball was crossed low into the Bologna area and Morosini swept the ball home.  Bologna drop to 7th, Brescia upto 11th.

Highlights -

Crotone continued their recent revival as they defeated Bari 3-0, who sacked Devis Mangia after the game and replaced him with ex Livorno boss Davide Nicola.  Goals from Ciano, De Giorgio and Maiello sealed a valuable win.  Crotone move upto 20th, whilst Bari drop to 15th.

Highlights -

Elsewhere Avellino lost 1-0 at home to Vicenza , Latina defeated Virtus Lanciano by a goal to nil and Livorno ran out 3-1 winners against Pro Vercelli.

There were draws between Ternana - Spezia (0-0), Trapani - Catania finished 2-2  and Varese - Perugia finished 1-1.

Virtus Entella v Modena was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, due to heavy rain in the Liguria region.


Avellino 0-1 Vicenza                              
Attendance 8,000

Bologna 1-2 Brescia                              
Attendance 14,207

Carpi 5-2 Cittadella                              
Attendance 2,103

Crotone 3-0 Bari                                  
Attendance 4,166

Latina 1-0 Virtus Lanciano                    
Attendance 3,792

Livorno 3-1 Pro Vercelli                      
Attendance 5,399

Pescara 3-0 Frosinone                        
Attendance 7,389

Ternana 0-0 Spezia                            
Attendance 3,858

Trapani 2-2 Catania                          
Attendance 7,056

Varese 1-1 Perugia                            
Attendance 3,430

Virtus Entella Modena postponed                        

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Serie B Review - Week 13

Testing 2-1

Thirteen games into the Serie B season and the table still has an unfamiliar look to it as Frosinone stay on top of the table, with Carpi in second, closely followed by Spezia in third.

Frosinone continued their excellent run of form with a 4-1 home victory over Trapani.  The hosts went ahead before the break through Austrian midfielder Robert Gucher, who hit a great strike from outside the box.   Davis Curiale beat the offside trap to make it 2 -0 with a cool finish after 53 minutes, and the Gialloazzuri were staying on top of the league.

Matteo Mancosu reduced the deficit from the spot on the hour for Trapani, but it didn't take long for Frosinone to regain control.  Trapani found themselves down to 10 men after Aramu was shown a second yellow card, then Frederico Dionisi scored after 78 minutes to restore the two goal advantage.   The fourth goal came in injury time through Curiale, a delightful chip over the keeper to seal the points for Frosinone.  Trapani drop to 8th after this loss.

Carpi gained an excellent point on the road with a 0-0 draw away at Bologna to cement their place in the top two.   The Biancorossi are now unbeaten in five games, and take on Cittadella at home this weekend.  Bologna continue their good form and are 6th.

Spezia played on Friday night at home to Crotone and ran out 2-1 winners.   Goals from Nigerian striker Ebagua and Niccolo Gianetti sealed the win.  Crotone pulled a goal back through Camillo Ciano but it wasn't enough for the visitors and they remain at the bottom of the table.

Avellino moved upto fourth place after defeating Modena, also 2-1.  Castaldo put the Biancoverdi in front after 21 minutes and Castaldo made it two on the stroke of half time from the penalty spot to put the visitors in control.  Modena hit back through Pablo Granoche  before the hour mark but Avellino held on for the victory.  The defeat drops Modena to 13th.

Elsewhere, struggling Ternana earned a great win by defeating Bari by a single goal. Pescara's topsy turvy season continued by defeating Brescia 3-1 away and Catania continued their march up the table after seeing off Varese 2-1.

Perugia got back to winning ways, beating Virtus Entella 2-1 at home. Virtus Lanciano defeated Livorno by a goal to nil and Vicenza came out victorious in their encounter with Pro Vercelli, again by a scoreline of 2-1.

Finally, Cittadella and Latina played out a 1-1 draw.

Bari 0-1 Ternana
Bologna 0-0 Carpi
Brescia 1-3 Pescara
Catania 2-1 Varese
Cittadella 1-1 Latina
Frosinone 4-1 Trapani
Modena 1-2 Avellino
Perugia 2-1 Virtus Entella
Spezia 2-1 Crotone
Virtus Lanciano 1-0 Livorno
Vicenza 2-1 Pro Vercelli

Thursday, 28 August 2014

The 'Team X' Files

The Italian football season restarts this weekend amid turmoil and a lot of confusion.  For once this isn’t a Serie A problem.  This year it is the turn of Serie B.

The season begins with only 21 teams after Siena’s liquidation earlier in the summer.  

The season’s fixture list was finally unveiled on Wednesday and organisers were forced to refer to the missing club as ‘Team X’.

'Team X’ were due to stage the opening game of the competition at home to Latina on Saturday evening, although that will now be postponed.
The league was initially cut to 21 teams as part of a long-term plan to eventually reduce it to 20 teams.

However, Novara, the highest placed of the four teams relegated last season, protested and an Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) tribunal ruled that Serie B must continue with 22 teams this season.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) was asked to find the 22nd team and declined to automatically include Novara as they are among the clubs who have had points deducted in the last two years over the Calcioscommesse match-fixing scandal.

Instead, the FIGC chose to use a complex ranking system to choose a team from among those who were either relegated from Serie B last season or finished in the top half of the third-tier Lega Pro.

The FIGC will award points based on each team’s position in the league last term, their city’s “sporting tradition” and the team’s average attendances over the past five seasons.
It appears that Pisa and Juve Stabia are the best placed teams, although Novara, who would have finished top of the rankings, have appealed against their exclusion.

At least 12 teams are in the running for the vacant spot which means with the season days away none of them know which division they will play in.
The FIGC is expected to announce its decision on Thursday, although that could be postponed by further appeals against clubs who think they have been hard done by.

At the time of writing the 21 teams due to compete are –
Avellino, Bari, Bologna, Brescia, Carpi, Catania, Cittadella, Crotone, Frosinone, Latina, Livorno, Modena, Perugia, Pescara, Pro Vercelli, Spezia, Ternana, Trapani, Varese, Virtus Entella and Virtus Lanciano…and Team X!!

Unsurprisingly, ahead of the new campaign, the bookmakers have Catania, relegated last season from Serie A, as slight favourites to win the title ahead of the two other relegated sides Bologna and Livorno.  It is hard to see past these three sides for promotion, but they will face stiff competition from sides like Bari, beaten in the Promotion Play Offs last season, and Pescara.

It could be a long season for Virtus Entella and Pro Vercelli.  Entella, last season’s Lega Pro Prima Divisione champions ,will compete in Serie B for the first time.  Pro Vercelli are also back after promotion.  This famous club has 7 Scudettos to their name, sadly the last title was won in 1922. 

As the season unfolds, there are bound to be many twists and turns. Who knows, Team X could be the team to gain promotion to Serie A.

Follow me on Twitter @insearchofluca

Thursday, 17 July 2014

AC longer with us.

After surviving for 110 years in the Italian football league system, it was announced yesterday (15/7/14) that AC Siena would be no more.  Declared bankrupt, they had reached the end of the road.

A statement from the club read ' Despite multiple, frequent attempts carried out in order to procure the registration of the team to the new football season, it was not possible to achieve this objective.'

It is a sad end for the club from the Stadio Artemio Franchi, although the writing has been on the wall for the last few seasons after yearly financial struggles.  Their main backer, Banca Montepaschi di Siena, had to be bailed out by the Bank of Italy after a financial scandal in 2013.  Former president Massimo Mezzaroma served a 20 day suspension last season as he was found guilty of 'not informing the relevant federal agencies of the withholding of income tax and wages owed to players.'

The Bianconeri competed in Serie A as recently as 2013, relegated in that season.  They narrowly missed out on the play offs in Serie B in 2014, a points deduction from the start of the season was too much to make up in the end.  This prompted Mezzaroma to resign in order to 'help the sale of the club as bankruptcy loomed'.  

After having spent 55 years playing in the lower divisions, Siena were promoted to Serie B for the start of the 2000/2001 season.  They were promoted to Serie A for the first time in the club's history in 2003/2004 and finished in a respectable 13th place.

Over the years Siena have had some famous managers.  Ferruccio Mazzola, son of legendary Torino captain Valentino Mazzola, managed the club in 1988/89.  Antonio Conte, until recently Juventus manager, was appointed in 2010 and led the side to promotion in 2012.  Other ex managers include Marcello Lippi, Ottavio Bianchi, Luigi De Canio and Serse Cosmi.

Notable ex players include Rodrigo Taddei, Tore Andre Flo and Enrico Chiesa.

I have decided to write this post from a personal viewpoint as well.  In 2004 I went to Tuscany on honeymoon, and visited Siena a few times.  The ground is just outside the town centre and I paid a visit.  Purchasing various memorabilia, I decided that I would 'adopt' them as one of my teams and have followed their results from afar ever since.

I hope a new buyer can be found soon and the rebuilding of the club can begin.  It's the supporters and the town that will suffer in times like these.  A long road lies ahead.


Follow me on Twitter @insearchofluca 

Saturday, 7 June 2014

My best Italy 11 ever... from 1990 onwards.

The World Cup is upon us once more and it seems anyone and everyone is picking their World Cup 'Greatest Ever XI’…so I thought I may as well jump on this particular bandwagon.

But I have decided to pick mine slightly differently.  Since this blog is about all things Italian, mainly calcio, and the reason I started it in the first place was by reminicising about Italia 90 , my ‘Greatest Ever Italy XI’ will consist of players who have represented the Azzuri from 1990 onwards.  

Italia 90 logo

That obviously means that some of THE greatest players ever to represent the famed Azzuri will not appear here – players like Gianni Rivera, Guiseppe Meazza or Valentino Mazzola (Captain of Il Grande Torino)

Nor will previous World Cup heroes likes Marco Tardelli or Paolo Rossi.  This XI is picked solely on my memories and experiences of following these players since 1990.

Marco Tardelli scoring in 1982 World Cup final

I have picked a 3-4-3 formation and these first four will probably feature in the majority of ‘Greatest XI’ teams.  All four are born leaders and instantly command the respect of team mates and opposition alike.  -

1 Gianluigi Buffon (139 Caps)

2 Paolo Maldini (126 caps, 7 goals)

3 Fabio Cannavaro (136 caps, 2 goals)

4 Franco Baresi (captain) (82 caps, 2 goals)

My midfield four has a mixture of grit, determination and flair….oh and a wizard (Pirlo) when it comes to taking free kicks -

5 Gennaro Gattuso (73 caps, 1 goal)

6 Roberto Donadoni  (63 caps, 5 goals)

7 Andrea Pirlo (108 caps, 13 goals)

8 Gianfranco Zola (35 caps, 10 goals)

The front three have been the main stay of the Azzuri frontline for the majority of the past 20 years, maybe not as profilic for the national team as they were for their club sides, but I have picked them on reputation and influence alone -

Alessandro Del Piero (91 caps, 27 goals)

10 Roberto Baggio (56 caps, 27 goals)

11 Francesco Totti (58 caps, 9 goals)

Roberto Baggio (L) and Alessandro Del Piero

Manager - Marcello Lippi.  Italy have had some great managers over the past 24 years such as Arrigo Sacchi and Giovanni Trappatoni, but Lippi winning the 2006 World Cup for the Azzuri, especially in the wake of the Calciopoli scandal of 2006, assures him of the job.

Over the last 20 odd years I have only watched these players via television and appreciated their skillpassion and leadership from afar.   I was lucky enough to be in Rotterdam for the Euro 2000 final, sat amongst the Italian fans.  Playing for the Azzuri that day were Fabio CannavaroPaolo MaldiniFrancesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero.

Some obvious choices, some not so obvious as well. No room for Marco Materazzi, Daniele De Rossi, Alessandro Costacurta or Pippo Inzaghi.  No room either for older heads like Roberto ManciniGianluca Vialli or Guiseppe Bergomi.

Whatever your thoughts on my selection, it would have been one hell of a starting 11!!

Over to you….what would your XI be?

Grazie mille

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Saturday, 4 January 2014

Championship Manager Italia

A few months ago I read a book called ' Football Manager Stole My Life - 20 years of the beautiful obsession'.  A trip down memory lane ensued as I began to recall all the different versions of the game I have played over the years.  I started off, like most, with the original series on the Commodore Amiga back in 1992 and came back year after year to buy the latest version of the game.

In therapy terms, I had been doing really well in recent times.  I had not touched the game in a number of years and I was leading a 'normal' life.  But, after reading the book, my willpower finally broke.  I reloaded an old version to my laptop, whilst at the same time vowing never to get sucked into playing into the wee hours like I did in my youth.  Then I remembered playing a version of the game which co-incided with the start of my passion for calcio in the mid 90's....Championship Manager Italia.

Based on the 93/94 series of the game, this version was purely for the Italian leagues Serie A and Serie B.  The format was exactly the same, you chose a team to manage in either league and were responsible for the buying and selling of players and winning as many games as possible to avoid the dreaded sack.  A nice little twist on the potential buying of players meant you could try to buy 'foreign' star names like Eric Cantona, Alan Shearer or a youthful Ryan Giggs.

Whilst researching this game I found an example of the Roma squad of that time which includes a 17 year old Francesco Totti and other big names stars from that era like Abel Balbo (age 27) and Aldair (age 28).  Italian football was enjoying a golden age in the mid 90's and most of the teams had superstar names in their ranks who were at the peak of their in-game playing powers.

The beauty of this game was in it's simplicity.  The main screen was a series of boxes (eg Continue Season, Find Player or View Tables).  Each box did exactly what it said on the tin, and as a result the experience of playing the game was very enjoyable.  It all looks very basic graphically now, but this was like nothing I had experienced before in the Football Management gaming world.

If memory serves, you also received a handbook which listed the teams and gave a brief history of each club for those gamers not familiar with Italian football.

The most recent versions of the series (now called Football Manager) are packed full of information which has led to criticism that the game is no longer about the simple playability of the old versions like Championship Manager Italia.

Technology has moved on but with the introduction of Amiga Emulators and websites dedicated to older games it is possible to download this (and other) games and enjoy the simple things once more.

I hope you have enjoyed this trip down memory lane and it has rekindled your love of the Championship Manager series.  Will you be tempted to dust that old copy off and have 'just one more game'.....for old times sake?


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