Friday, 16 May 2008

[Serie B] Week 40 Preview

After last weekend's bloody Sunday, five of Serie B's top six are looking to get back to winning ways while Lecce entertain Bari in a Puglia derby.

They were unbeaten in 2008 - no other side could touch them. Chievo’s march straight back to Serie A seemed irrepressible, and then came Mantova, coached by Giuseppe Brucato, a former bank manager. The Virgilani’s hard-fought 1-0 victory gives Vicenza hope as they travel to the Bentegodi – the Biancorossi need a point to be assured of safety.

The leaders are still three points clear thanks to their rivals who squabbled amongst themselves last weekend, but could be without talismanic top scorer Sergio Pellissier.

Giuseppe Papadopulo’s Lecce were the only side to capitalise on Chievo’s downfall and are looking to keep the pressure on by beating neighbours Bari this weekend.

The Via del Mare is practically sold out as the Galletti come to town. Antonio Conte’s flair-tastic 11 haven’t won in three games and were spanked 4-0 by Lecce at the San Nicola in December, but Bari are optimistic and the return of attacking duo Massimo Ganci and Simone Cavalli should make for an entertaining derby.

Bologna’s slump has yet to compromise their impeccable home form, nevertheless, last Sunday’s 3-0 hammering at Grosseto will have knocked the Felsinei’s confidence ahead of Messina’s visit to the Renato Dall’Ara.

Albinoleffe are still in with a shout for automatic promotion, despite their comprehensive defeat to Lecce six days ago. Elio Gustinetti will be mulling over that 4-0 loss, particularly given that this weekend’s opponents Ascoli smashed promotion candidates Brescia by the same scoreline.

Pisa are hanging on to a play-off place by their fingernails. Their recent form has been that of a relegation-stricken side, like their hosts Ravenna. But, not to be stereotyped, the Giallorossi who were bottom of the League for most of the season have turned a corner and are the Cadetto’s in-form team after winning four of their last five games.

Rimini are on Pisa’s scent, the Emilians are five points behind the Tuscans, but could inadvertently help Giampiero Ventura’s side by knocking out fifth-placed Brescia.

At the foot of the table, Cesena have to win their last three games to have any chance of escaping the drop. Unfortunately, the Aquilotti face relegation rivals Treviso, who are fresh from two consecutive victories, which have pushed the Venetians four points clear of the Serie C-threatened quartet.

Avellino can still catch Beppe Pillon’s Biancocelesti by overpowering Triestina, but results have to go their way over the course of the next three weeks.

Saturday 17 May 2008 (1500 UK time, +1hr for Italy/CET)
Ascoli v Albinoleffe
Avellino v Triestina
Bologna v Messina
Chievo v Vicenza
Frosinone v Modena
Lecce v Bari
Piacenza v Grosseto
Ravenna v Pisa
Rimini v Brescia
Spezia v Mantova
Treviso v Cesena

Source: C4 Football Italia

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