Danger Zone : Serie A Relegation in 2013

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Which Serie A clubs will be relegated to Serie B in 2013? Today on the blog David assesses each of the potential victims and delivers his verdict on which clubs will avoid and which will suffer Serie A relegation this season.

PescaraFans

The top European league which best holds the fans on the edge of their seat. In Serie A there may not be the best brand of football on display but they know what equilibrium is …on both sides of the table.

Pescara

Fans seem to have forgotten that the team which got promoted to Serie A was very different from the one they are seeing on the field every Sunday this time around. A lot of changes have happened around Pescara, starting with the successful attacking philosophy masterminded by Zeman last season. Extend that to star names such as Verratti, Insigne, Immobile and Sau having moved on to greener pastures and you have on your hands a swift and justified return to Serie B football.

Stroppa was a young manager trying to recreate the same style of football as that which got them promoted but with a side that had undergone a massive facelift. He needed time but wasn’t given much. Having sacked him in mid-November pulled the project backwards. Replacement manager Bergodi, although having played a match less than his predecessor, has managed one point less than Stroppa did, 10. A total of 21 points with 13 games to go makes for a bleak outcome for Pescara.

Verdict: relegated

Even big teams like Inter and Milan have proven themselves weak in the face of multiple changes of personnel. Why would anyone have thought Pescara could survive that? The fans should be patient and only expect their team to give their best this year before rebuilding next season in a lower division.

The Odds: Pescara are currently at the slim odds of 1.25 to be relegated this season.

Palermo

Changing managers when things seem to go wrong at the very first turn on a bumpy road is a speciality of the house at Palermo. Club boss Zamaprini has recently been booed off and spit at when he visited the Palermo training camp, having been there for the presentation of the third manager this season.

Sannino and Gasperini were both sacked prematurely and, having allowed new general director Lo Monaco to plan the January transfer market and execute it along with Gasperini, Zamaprini dropped a bombshell and debilitated the club’s chances of survival when he kicked both of them out and installed a new director, Perinetti, and a new manager, Malesani.

The latter has proven it takes time to get to know the players and eventually come up with the best system to adopt. He drew both matches against Pescara and Chievo, seemingly firing the last two rounds in the Sicilian gun. Had Zamaprini proven patient with Gasperini they might have been four points better off at this point. Instead they now find themselves at a crucial junction, needing to win against Genoa next weekend in order to keep within reaching distance of Serie A.

Malesani will need to put his faith in key men like Ilicic and Miccoli, the team’s best performers in attack, and put aside any plans of trying to get a return on investment from the new faces brought in over the January transfer period: Boselli, Fabbrini and Formica. Instead he should seek to get Faurlin moving the ball in midfield as he seems to be the only quality midfielder left in this team, still very slow with getting the ball into the opponent’s danger zone.

Verdict: pending

It is one of those instances where ‘too big to fail’ may be a phrase to utilise, with some reservations though. Zamaprini has done his best to mismanage a team which had potential but needed reinforcing already last summer. He has pushed the panic button now but it may have been too late …while being too rash in sacking managers with good reputations who only needed time to deliver a decent product.

The Odds: Palermo are currently at odds of 1.36 to be relegated this season.

Chievo

The real trouble in Verona had shown up early on when Di Carlo failed to recreate the chemistry that had worked wonders back in 2009 and 2010. That season Chievo had achieved safety with seven matches to spare. The season before it was a tighter affair, having substituted Iachini and taken charge of a team which seemed destined for relegation.

That golden age under Di Carlo was to be no more though and club president Campedelli sensed things were not going to work this time, calling club legend Corini onto the bench. ‘Il genio’ will not be facing any significant problems guaranteeing safety despite the team being qualitatively deficient. The likes of Paloschi and Thereau ensure the right amount of danger though, making the best of the few chances they get during 90 minutes of play.

Verdict: safe

Corini will have to face some tough matches until mid-March. I believe that by then, with the six-pointer against Pescara looming, they should have geared up for the final push to collect the final 9 points required for almost mathematical certainty of staying up. By the way, watch out for a surprise result against Milan as well.

The Odds: Chievo are currently at the long odds of 13.00 to be relegated this season.

Torino

President Cairo made his best decision since taking over the club when he appointed Ventura as manager. A highly undervalued individual in the Italian game offering the kind of football that would suit a big club. The variant that asks questions of the opposition rather than waiting for them to react, yet at the same time the defence is not neglected. A style and mentality very similar to that of city rivals Juventus, with an underlying hint at Zeman’s attacking philosophy but less careless in its execution. A manager a team like Inter would really want to have in place of Stramaccioni and his passive game.

The thing with Ventura is that it often gets surprisingly unlucky for him. I guess he is not bold enough to be favoured by fortune but he really shouldn’t have much trouble staving off relegation at this point.

Verdict: safe

They have quite a number of top ten teams left to play so perhaps they will be hitting a dark patch along the way but I would not question their ability to get the job done.

The Odds: At odds of 21.00, Torino look safe to avoid relegation in 2013.

Genoa

More question marks would rightly hang upon Genoa’s chances. Having lost 6 home games already, the second highest after newly promoted Pescara’s total of 8, and keeping in mind that they are the kind of team which relies a lot on home soil for points, you would have to ask yourself whether they have what it takes to survive the plight.

Since Ballardini took over though, shifting his attention to Borriello in attack supported only by Bertolacci, and appointing Matuzalem responsible for keeping the ball flowing quickly in midfield, things have started to look much better. They are still dangerously close to the red line and a defeat in Palermo on Saturday will reopen the race pulling them into the whirlwind.

Nonetheless they are yet to welcome the likes of Siena, Pescara and Atalanta at home, and out of the top teams they host Milan and Inter, which are the least stable of the sides in the running for places in Europe.

Verdict: safe

They could still get sucked into the danger zone with a very difficult month ahead of them. From then onwards they should have a favourable schedule of fixtures that will allow them to gather enough points to make it another close call, very much on the same lines as last season.

The Odds: Best priced at 2.50, relegation still looms as a possibility for Genoa this season.

Sampdoria

In a much more comfortable place than their city rivals Genoa but just like them they resorted to changes at the helm after a horrid run of results. The Blucerchiati too have lost an unusual amount of home games but have halted that freefall to 5 thus far. I do not think they can worsen it by much despite still being required to welcome four of the current top seven sides in the standings.

Juventus will be the most obvious danger within this context, wanting to get revenge for that unexpected home defeat in January and more so because of the fact that the title race could go to the wire and require they get points from the Ferraris on the final day. Once again Sampdoria may be called on to have a say in the title race, with the chance of playing another trick on a main contender, this time being Juventus rather than Roma.

The concern for manager Delio Rossi will be to get his team beyond mathematical certainty into Serie A in 2013-14. The rest will be bonuses that might help outshine the frequent bouts of anger he displays.

Verdict: safe

Few doubts about this verdict and it will be much earlier than any would have thought a few weeks ago. Their home form has become rock solid. It will be extremely difficult to break their tightly knit lines and with players like Icardi, Maxi Lopez and Eder they will always know where to look for the goals.

The Odds: Sampdoria appear certain to remain in Serie A in 2013/2014, currently priced at odds of 17.00 for relegation.

Siena

6 points, the penalty they started this campaign with, are an abyss to bridge. Even top teams would struggle to handle that let alone a side like Siena which knows at the start of every season that they will be battling against relegation. This year they have not displayed the defensive solidity that helped them work out miracles under Sannino last season. Moody players like Rosina in attack will mishit more often than not and having given away a player like Neto in January to cash in on him proves beyond any reasonable doubt that they have already planned for next season, dismantling and rebuilding in Serie B.

Verdict: relegated

Along with Pescara, Siena are the only other team in the current top division representing a small city in Italy. The others are all teams from much larger cities and, as an often obvious consequence of this, have more resources at their disposal. During a hard financial period it seems only natural that both of them lose their footing first.

The Odds: Siena are currently priced at the short odds of 1.25 to be relegated this season.

Cagliari

Cagliari boss Cellino is currently behind bars for issues related to the Is Arenas Stadium, the club’s new home in his grandiose plans. Too bad there is apparently enough evidence to implicate construction of the stadium using misappropriated public funds.

This has only been the latest chapter in a dramatic story that has unfolded for Cagliari this season in relation to their ability of hosting other clubs on the island of Sardegna. Very often they have had to play in other less favourable venues for them. From now onwards it is a given there will be no more home games for them this season.

Despite raising eyebrows initially and discounting it as another dubious decision of the volcanic club president, the duo in charge of the team, Pulga and Lopez, have been doing a very good job. They also have quite some talent to rely on and a team which can be said to have a solid backbone. Unfortunately the attack does misfire at times and I am not very enthusiastic about their defence either. Yet they compare very well to teams scrapping to avoid relegation in terms of personnel. Players like Nainggolan, Astori and Sau have already had vulture clubs circle above them, eager to snap them up as soon as Cagliari slip into the lower division.

Verdict: pending

They will have to play 13 away games virtually. This is what makes their struggle an uphill task and not the ability to count on valid players. In my view they are the main candidate for that final seat on the train headed to Serie B, in contention with Palermo.

The Odds: Cagliari are poised to avoid relegation this season, currently priced at odds of 11.00 for the drop.

Bologna

They have never really picked themselves up and strung together a satisfactory run of results. They are very much like Celta in la Liga, with a good enough brand of football but unable to stamp their feet down on the road. In fact they are the first club to have reached double figures in terms of losses on the road this season.

The attacking potential is quite remarkable with current national team players Diamanti and Gilardino leading the line. The trouble is that when these misfire then goals are hard to come by. Bologna are yet to draw away from home though and this is quite significant in explaining how Pioli has transformed his game from an overly defensive one towards a variation that asks of his team to look for victory. That’s how they snatched victory against Roma and Napoli in 2-3 away thrillers.

They await on very winnable games although it should be in April that the majority of these should come along.

Verdict: safe

It is a team with heavy potential and handled by a good manager. One could not explain the excellent away wins, coming from behind, in such venues as the San Paolo and the Olimpico otherwise. I am confident they will resurface, especially because their schedule favours a smooth recovery.

The Odds: At odds of 5.00 the bookmakers don't consider Bologna sure things to return to Serie A next season.

Atalanta

Achieving success is one thing but repeating oneself is definitely a more difficult task. Colantuono has managed to do just that though …at least until November. In December and February the team has won just one game per month and January has not seen them register any three-pointers, probably a consequence of the transfer rumours that had disrupted their main striker Denis.

All of this has seen Atalanta slowly, but surely, navigate their damaged boat towards World’s end. Soon they will be playing six-pointer matches against direct rivals involved in the relegation squabble. Those will be the telling games with regards to Atalanta’s fate.

I honestly cannot see them drop to Serie B. The manager has done a wonderful job and although things have seemed too lax lately they will be able to turn to the characteristic discipline which so often helped them over obstacles in the past year and a half.

Verdict: safe

Too solid and organised a unit to give up on the battle so soon. ‘La Dea’ should work its way out of trouble by proving a much more reliable proposition than any of the relegation rivals it is to face in the coming weeks.

The Odds: Atalanta are currently priced at odds of 11.00 to be relegated in 2013.