It was a desperate, desperate game between two desperate, desperate sides. Bari however could be forgiven as their mission was simply to avoid a sixth consecutive defeat. The fact that Chievo were bitterly disappointed with a result that bettered both results against Bari last season is testament to the fantastic start that the Gialloblu have made. The 0-0 draw in the Stadio Bentegodi was devoid of chances and it was devoid of ideas. It was tepid and uninspiring. At the start of the season many experts predicted that Chievo would struggle to beat the drop this season. After seven rounds, the Gialloblu sat in fourth place with whisperings of European football next season. Those that have witnessed their slump into three games without a win and, more importantly, three games without a goal will no doubt confirm that those predictions are not as far from the mark as they seemed three or four weeks ago.
Personnel wise, Coach Stefano Pioli made several changes from the side that were well beaten at Fiorentina on Sunday. He made one enforced change in defence, with Nicolas Frey unable to recover from his knee injury in Florence. He was replaced at right back by Gennaro Sardo. That meant that Marco Andreolli and Slovenian international Bostjan Cesar continued their impressive partnership at the heart of the Gialloblu rearguard. Andrea Mantovani was ever present at left back. In midfield, Pioli only named one player from the engine room of the Fiorentina defeat, Guinea international Kevin Constant. The three changes saw Gelson Fernandes return from suspension, Luca Rigoni return from injury, having made a fleeting appearance as a substitute at Fiorentina, and Mariano Bogliacino was recalled. Bowing out of the side were Roberto Guana, Simone Bentivoglio and Michele Marcolini. Up front, Pioli opted to keep Davide Moscardelli but replaced Frenchman Cyril Thereau with Uruguayan Pablo Granoche. This was because skipper Sergio Pellissier was still being kept out with a troublesome knock he took on his knee. Also missing was influential Brazilian midfielder Luciano. Unfortunately for the Gialloblu, Marco Andreolli lasted a mere 25 minutes before hobbling off injured and being replaced by Davide Mandelli. This means that Pioli will have a bit of defensive crisis before the weekend’s fixture.
In other news this week, the Gialloblu arranged a very interesting charity match on Monday night at their training headquarters between some of the current squad, a few lucky flying donkeys supporters and a team made up of former Gialloblu players. This team included players such as Mauro Guiliano, Giuseppe Folli and the legendary centre-back Lorenzo D’Anna. D’Anna played for the club for thirteen years between 1994 and 2007 and made close to 400 appearances for the flying donkeys. He was also their captain and the first to captained the Gialloblu to Serie A. He still plays now for lower league Treviso at the age of 38. Pioli also helped out on the day to ensure the game went without a hitch and released some of his staff to help out. The whole day was very successful and ended with a meal at a top city restaurant.
Pioli’s next problem is to turn his attention to Sunday afternoon and the difficult trip to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris for a game against Sampdoria, now coached by former Gialloblu boss Domenico Di Carlo. Pioli will be looking for a similar performance to the one that his side put in at the start of the season at that ground, when they defeated Sampdoria’s intercity rivals and ground sharers Genoa. The 3-1 result that day sent shock waves through Italian football, as the side that managed to finish in the top half of Serie A were expected to make a fantastic start to this season and challenge for a place in Europe, especially after signing Luca Toni. It will take a similarly huge performance from the Gialloblu this weekend to get any kind of result against their former Coach. Sampdoria qualified for Champions league football last season, although they crashed out in the qualifying round to an impressive Werder Bremen side. Despite having well publicised problems with talisman Antonio Cassano, Sampdoria will expect to be too strong for an out of form Gialloblu side that still remain more than capable of raising their game. Pioli expects to have Sergio Pellissier available once again although they are struggling defensively with both Nicolas Frey and Marco Andreolli missing.