Club Focus – Chievo – Pioli has tough decisions to make to stop the home day blues

Chievo Coach Stefano Pioli will have some tough decisions to make to turn the tide on the Gialloblu’s home form. The Flying Donkeys began the season with a controversial late 2-1 win at home to Catania. The two home games since have ended with 1-0 defeats, firstly by a newly-promoted Brescia and last weekend against Lazio. In between these two home games, the Gialloblu’s have had two fantastic away wins (both 3-1) at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris against Genoa and then even more impressively at the Stadio San Paolo against a usually water-tight Napoli. The main feature of both of these fantastic away wins has been a willingness to attack and a freedom to make the most of all their counter attacks. The most satisfying part of both of those away victories for Pioli has been the fact that his side went into two of the most intimidating grounds and performed with a fluidity and style that seems to have made a mockery of the expert’s predictions of a relegation scrap for Chievo. Pioli now needs to find a way of transferring the away form into similar performances and results in front of their own faithful at the Stadio Bentegodi.

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This weekend it is the turn of Cagliari to travel to the Bentegodi. Their usually mean defence was unravelled on Sunday evening in Turin as they went down 4-2 to Juventus and a Milos Krasic hat-trick. The Rossoblu however will take heart from the way that the Gialloblu have failed to deliver at home this season, despite the fact that the Sardinins away form has been pretty dreadful so far. They began the season with a 0-0 draw at Palermo. This was then followed up by a wonderful performance at the Stadio Saint’Elia as they took apart last season’s nearly men Roma, with a stunning 5-1 victory, Roma having been reduced to 10 men. That performance was followed by successive 0-0 draws, away to Bari and then at home to Sampdoria, before being taken apart themselves at Juventus in week five last weekend.
Chievo have the past on their side in this fixture as they won the Bentegodi game last season 2-1. The winner that day was scored by Uruguayan hit-man Pablo Granoche (his first for the club). He could play a major part this season, as he is likely to make a rare start alongside Davide Moscardelli in the expected absence of skipper Sergio Pellissier. Pellissier hobbled off early in the second half of the Lazio defeat and has since been diagnosed with inflammation of the lower back. It is hoped that the skipper will return for the next game which is away to Milan on the 17th October, the week after the international break. The Gialloblu faithful will be hoping that either Moscardelli or Granoche step into replace Pellissier in front of goal, as the striker has so far netted four of the side’s eight goals, exactly half of their tally, which underlines his importance to the team. Also missing for the Flying Donkey’s will be defender Santiago Morero and Brazilian midfielder Luciano. Luciano started the wins over both Catania and Genoa but hobbled off after just 15 minutes of the 1-0 home defeat to Brescia. He was suffering from swelling in his knee, but it is still hoped he can avoid surgery and will probably sit out for another month.
It has been eight years now since the miracle of Chievo began in the top flight. Two seasons of European football have been achieved in that time. The Gialloblu have proved again so far this season that they retain the ability to shock. Currently the Gialloblu sit in third place, just a solitary point off joint leaders Inter and Lazio, but Coach Pioli knows deep down that it perhaps should be at lot better. Those two home defeats to Brescia and Lazio were very much winnable games and if they had done so then the Flying Donkey’s would be sat out front, five points clear. It can still be done this weekend if they get back to winning ways, and Inter and Lazio drop points at home to Juventus and Brescia respectively, then the Gialloblu will be back on top. Unfortunately with home gates of just 10-11000, survival will always be the priority for the Bentegodi club, but they have proved this season that there is no reason why this shouldn’t be achieved by as close to Christmas as possible, and then the club can push on and look to achieve the top half finish they deserve and who knows what else.
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