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Inside the Promotion machine

Several articles back I covered relegation targets so perhaps it’s time to talk on promotion, how it works in Italy and who in Serie B is positioned to make it happen.

Basically this is how it will play out, the top two teams from Serie B are automatically promoted. If the difference between third and fourth place is less than ten points, the next four teams play off with the winner gaining the third promotion spot, otherwise the third placed team is promoted. More…

The following table lists the current standings for the top six in Serie B and if nothing changes from now until end of season, we will see a play off for that third place promotion.

The Top Three

With five match days remaining leaders Chievo face off in four of those against clubs from the bottom half of the table. Leading all comers Chievo are in the favored position of having the most favorable schedule for promotion success.

In second place are Albinoleffe having come literally from nowhere in the last decade but before talking on that miracle lets discuss third place Lecce.

Lecce haven’t lost a match in their last 12, only 4-points off leaders Chievo and Serie B glory. The southerners, relegation victims two years ago, were joined in their decent from Serie A by Tresvio and the mighty Juventus caught in the Calciopoli scandal. Lecce has waged a dogged campaign, losing only once at home on October 20th against fifth place Brescia. The club have three home matches remaining and maintaining that fortress record surely will position them for promotion. I do get the feeling Lecce travels downward are a mere blip on calcio radar but protecting their one point lead over Bologna does them little good for automatic promotion. Lecce must overtake new boys Albinoleffe who they play on May 10 if they hope to avoid a play off and they must throw everything into that match.

Onto the David and Goliath story, the star of the show, Albinoleffe. The club barely a decade old, was formed from the merger of former Serie C2 teams Albinese Calcio and S.C. Leffe. After being promoted to Italian Serie C1, in 2003 AlbinoLeffe, under coach Elio Gustinetti, gained a surprising triumph in the division play-off final, beating Pisa, giving them the right to play in Serie B. For two seasons the club treaded water in B, and then lost their favorite son Gustinetti who went in search of new pastures. Vincenzo Esposito stepped into his shoes, but after a disastrous start was replaced by Emiliano Mondonico, who staved off relegation that year before engineering last season’s impressive 10th-place finish. [1]

(video, one highlight of the 2006-2007 season was of course the 1 – 1 home draw against Juventus when Albinoleffe took an early lead over the giants with Joelson converting the penalty awarded after Gigi Buffon tripped striker Ruben Garlini in the box.)

Mondonico’s success however was quickly forgotten with the return of Gustinetti to lead the club yet again with “fluid, effervescent, two-touch” football observed by Corriere dello Sport writer Fabio Monti. Albinoleffe on the cusp of their greatest triumph, promotion to Serie A, have several difficult matches remaining. Mentioned already is the May 10th winner take all match against Lecce, but they also face visitors Rimini Calcio, a team they’ve not been able to beat in their last five meetings and finally they play away to eleventh place Ascoli. Ascoli have also been difficult for Albinoleffe to overcome, with the little guys winning only once in the last five head-to-head.

References

[1] The Guardian – Can Albinoleffe write the greatest fairytail of all ?

[2] Corriere dello Sport – Il calcio più bello? In provincia di Bergamo

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