The air tingled with a sense of static electricity, the fans squeezed shoulder to shoulder as they navigated their way to the stadium and through the turnstiles. In the tunnels, up and down the peninsula that familiar sound of the clink of studs off the concrete ground had returned.
And as the players trooped onto the pitches they were met by a cacophony of noise from their adoring faithful. It may only have been three weeks, but it had felt like an eternity, Serie B was back and ready to spew out the same madcap results that had dotted the opening 21 weeks of the campaign.
To evidence this, we only need to look no further than the Galletti of Bari. A tepid performance away to Cittadella saw the Puglian go down 2-0 and leave an already disappointing season feel even worse. Yet despite the negativity surrounding the clubs form they remain only two points off eight positon and a place in the promotion play-offs. But what makes this league so great is the fact that while two points off the play-offs, Bari are also only six points off automatic relegation.
Indeed, even Cesena, all the way down in 20th can conceivable believe that with a good run of form over the second part of this campaign that they too may end up squeaking that last and prized play-off spot.
The competitive nature of the division is further showcased in the fact that the top two sides heading into the weekend both lost (Verona surprisingly 2-0 to Latina and Frosinone 2-1 to Entella) while only one of the bottom five sides suffered defeat, with the one doing so suffering that defeat at the hands of fellow bottom five side Pisa.
That defeat for Ternana against the Neroazzuro trigged a sequence of events that eventually saw manager Benito Carbone hand in his resignation. The Rossoverde were always expected to struggle this season but their form of late has been truly appalling and they have slipped ever further into the relegation mire.
Speaking of the relegation mire a newish looking Trapani side took to the field in blustery conditions hoping to start the first leg in what many would consider to be the impossible task of avoiding relegation. The Granata were pitiful throughout the first 21 matches and deserved to be where they were. But Saturday’s 2-1 win over Novara, only their second of the season, gives a little bit of hope to a situation that up until then had none.
The real big winners of the weekend however are SPAL. The club from Ferrara have been another fairy tale story in a league that has produced many in the last couple of seasons. A 2-0 home win against fellow underdogs Benevento has moved the Spallini up into second and an automatic promotion spot. As for Benevento, while defeat will have hurt them they have enough talent to bounce back and continue to make this a remarkable season.
Despite only losing four times in 22 matches, the least amount of any side in the division, Latina sit only two points off relegation, why? Quite simply they have drawn what the professionals describe as a crap load of matches, 14 to be precise. However, their win at the weekend against Verona proves they can match it with anyone, so if they can turn a few more draws into wins there is no telling where the Leonialti may end up.
Three defeats in five is not promotion material, yet that’s the situation Frosinone find themselves in. A late collapse with ten men against Virtus Entella will have hurt and a bounce back result is required.
The opposite of Latina, Cittadella have only drawn once this season, but remain only four points off the top. Can this win or bust mentality really be sustained with success until the end of the season.
View Table HERE.
Week 22 Results:
Brescia 0-2 Avellino, Cittadella 2-0 Bari, SPAL 2-0 Benevento, Virtus Entella 2-1 Frosinone, Latina, 2-0 Hellas Verona, Tarpani 2-1 Novara, Pisa 1-0 Ternana, Carpi 0-0 Vicenza, Ascoli (postponed) Pro Vercelli, Salernitana 1-0 Spezia, Perugia 3-3 Cesena.