Club Focus – Chievo – Pioli easing back into life in Serie A

Week one of the new Serie A season saw Chievo record a great home win over Catania in Coach Stefano Pioli’s first game in charge. Although the Sergio Pellissier penalty that wrapped up the points for the ‘flying donkeys’ was controversial, the overall result certainly wasn’t. The initial foul on the ‘Gialloblu’ captain was outside the box, but the sheer weight of possession and territorial advantage enjoyed by the hosts in the second half, meant that a winning goal was more than deserved. This was a magnificent result in that it gave new coach Pioli a great starting point to his return to a Serie A bench, just three years after his last season there with hometown club Parma ended with the sack in January. Pioli will hope to get a full season with the Stadio Bentegodi club to continue the good progress made by previous coach Domenico Di Carlo (now at Sampdoria).
Immediately after the game, Pioli vowed not to rest on his laurels following one good performance and great win. After all, there were at that stage still two days to go until the transfer deadline day and plenty of wheeling and dealing to be done. Pioli’s deadline day swoops included the signings of Rincon (the Brazilian defender) on a co-ownership deal with current employers Inter and Swiss international midfielder Gelson Fernandes from French club St Etienne. Rincon was born in Sao Paulo and first arrived in the peninsula in 2006 when he signed for Empoli despite having already agreed a deal with Manchester United. The deal with Utd fell through due to work permit issues and he signed for Empoli instead. He was quickly snapped up by Inter, who immediately loaned him back to Empoli and despite being at the club for two years, he only made four appearances for them. He then had loan spells at Ancona and Piacenza before arriving at the Stadio Bentegodi. In his native Brazil, he was tipped from an early age to be the natural successor to legendary right-back Cafu. This hasn’t proved to be the case so far and his first priority is to dislodge first choice full-back Gennaro Sardo, who lined up against Catania on the opening day.

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Fernandes, on the other hand, could count himself unlucky. The Swiss international midfielder signed for Manchester City from Sion for a fee of £4.2million and joined the Sven Goran-Eriksson revolution at Eastlands. Eriksson commented that Fernandes was ‘the best young Swiss player I have seen’ when he signed. He hit an instant rapport with the City faithful and played an important role in the middle of the park under Eriksson. All this changed however when Eriksson was sacked and replaced by Mark Hughes. Fernandes found himself out of favour and soon moved onto France where he joined St Etienne for a fee of around £2million. He tied up his move to the ‘flying donkeys’ on transfer deadline day and will be hard pushed to find a way through first choice midfield partnership of Michele Marcolini and Luca Rigoni. He has, however, made 27 appearances for Switzerland and played his part in their World Cup campaign in South Africa.
On Sunday, the ‘Gialloblu’ travel to face Genoa in their first away game of the new campaign. It will be the battle of two clubs who won their opening day fixtures after Genoa’s hard fought 1-0 win at Udinese. One piece of good news is that the ‘Rossoblu’ will be without their injured ‘Azzurri’ striker Luca Toni, who was signed in the summer from Bayern Munich. This will make defensive pairing Bostjan Cesar and Marco Andreolli’s task a little easier although they will still have to stop former ‘flying donkey’s’ front man Giuseppe Sculli who is always a danger. The ‘Rossoblu’ may introduce new signing Kakha Kaladze to their backline in order to stop ‘Gialloblu’ hit man Sergio Pellissier and his new striking partner Davide Moscardelli (who was also on target in the opening day victory over Catania). The former Piacenza front man will be travelling to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris full of confidence after netting his first ever Serie A goal in his first ever game at that level. The ‘Gialloblu’ faithful will be praying that he is able to regularly weigh in with such vital goals as it relieves the pressure on captain Pellissier, a man they have had to rely on a little too often in recent years. Either way, after the start the ‘flying donkeys’ have made, they will be travelling full of confidence for a positive result on Sunday.
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