Serie B – Week 18 – It’s tough down at the bottom

With eighteen games gone, Serie B is really starting to take shape with potential title winners, promotion favourites and relegation candidates all emerging. The bottom two entered this weeks fixtures desperate to drag themselves up the table, things are tight, as other than Portogruaro, who are bottom on 14 points, Triestina, Piacenza, Sassuolo and Ascoli all have amassed 17 points.
Portogruaro have had a tough season – newly promoted, they started well, winning three of their first six games, sadly they have not managed to win since and recently have conceded eight goals in their last two games before their tie with Atalanta. It was not a game that they were expected to get much out of as Atalanta are pushing for the title and a return to Serie A, flying high at the moment to say the least. The game could not have started any worse for the home side as with only one minute on the clock a long ball over the top outwitted the Portogruaro back line and as the ball was crossed into the box Francesco Ruopolo’s untidy volley gave the away side the lead. Things only got worse for the home side as just after the half hour mark they conceded again, this time through a fantastic individual goal from Fabio Ceravolo who was allowed to run and run before delicately lifting the ball over a grounded Francesco Rossi. Portogruaro did give themselves some hope when Marco Cunico smashed home a penalty on 75 minutes but it was too little too late and Atalanta easily contained the home side’s late flurry. Rooted to the bottom of the table no fixture will look welcoming, Portogruaro have to travel to Empoli away next and will have to show vast signs of improvement to get anything out of this game.
Triestina are also a club in crisis, second from bottom with only three wins to their name they faced a tricky away tie against 12th placed Cittadella. There was something in the air it seemed – an early goal was scored in this match also, however, it did not go the way of the away side. Only 6 minutes were on the clock when a deep cross was converted by Manolo Gabbiadini’s clever volley. In fairness to Triestina, they rallied well and on 38 minutes they won a penalty, Emiliano Testini stepped up and emphatically drilled home from the spot. The away fans had not even finished celebrating when, only five minutes after they were level, they went behind, Cittadella won a free kick from some way out and when the shot rebounded off the post Raffaele Perna was on hand to head in. Two minutes after half time, the game was as good as over as Triestina leaked a third goal, Raffaele Perna’s superb pass found Manolo Gabbiadini who somehow managed to slot the ball in from the tightest of angles. The partnership of Perna and Gabbiadini was tearing Triestina apart and it was the latter who picked out Perna for his second of the game from 12 yards out albeit with a major deflection. Next up for Triestina is a visit from Torino who currently lie in seventh place, they will need stop the rot somewhere although this maybe a tall order next weekend.
With Sassuolo and Piacenza playing out a 1-1 draw the bottom of the table is tight, in a strange situation there are many teams not on form and therefore there is no team falling away. Even Portogruaro are only one win from being level on points with four other teams whilst Triestina are only three points off 15th. This leaves the Serie B’s bottom half all separated by only 10 points from Portogruaro on 14 points to 11th place Pescara on 24 points every team must fight hard to pick up every single point. A bad run of three games can now be enough to transform a club in the relegation zone into a mid table team and with a long way to go in the season it is almost impossible to predict who will be languishing near the drop come May. Portogruaro and Triestina can take heart that although their form is currently poor if they fight for every point they may well save themselves still.

Week 18
Albinoleffe 2-0 Empoli
Ascoli 1-0 Padova
Cittadella 4-1 Triestina
Grosseto 3-1 Modena
Livorno 1-1 Pescara
Novara 3-0 Crotone
Portogruaro 1-2 Atalanta
Sassuolo 1-1 Piacenza
Torino 1-1 Siena
Varese 1-0 Reggina
Vicenza 1-0 Frosinone

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