It was a sad indictment of Cittadella’s last spell in Serie B that it is best remembered for the fact that they played a 45-year-old Andrea Pierbon in goal for the majority of the campaign. Now two seasons on however and the Granata are back in the second tier with Pierobon in tow, although as a coach rather than player this time.
And while their last spell in the division was ultimately forgettable, this time around they have started in a far different vain altogether. It’s now four games into the new season and the club from the province of Padua are the only ones remaining with a 100% record. In fact, despite it still being early doors the Granata have opened a none too shabby five-point lead over the nearest side which in itself is the surprising Benevento.
How is it then that this tiny club from the north of Italy have managed to find themselves at the top of Serie B and potentially beginning an amazing odyssey that might bring them to the biggest stage of all. Well one thing is for sure it has not been done on the biggest budget the world has ever seen and nor has it been done with a particularly unbelievably talent squad.
Now that last point may seem a little mean given where the club currently sit at the moment. But take a look at their squad for the current year and you may be surprised at how few household names are in it. Indeed, even their manager Roberto Venturato is a verifiable nobody. This is the 53-year old’s sixth job in management and his first in Serie B, with previous spells at clubs such as Pizzighettone, Castellana and Pergolettese on his C.V.
What they evidently do have is a strong team ethic that is standing them in good stead, plus Venturato is obviously a manager that is growing into his own after years of experience. Something that cannot be overlooked though is that the club have simply developed the knack of winning football matches. Last season in Lega Pro they were virtually unstoppable, blitzkrieg-ing their way across the shattered fields of what was their opponents.
That winning mentality has simply just been carried on over into another year and the confidence you get from just always winning gives you the belief that no matter what is put in front of you it will be overcome. Also as a bit of an underdog Cittadella do have some recent history on their side with the promotions of Carpi, Frosinone and Crotone in recent years giving hope to all the minnows. If the Granata though are eventually to go up into Serie A it will be a minor miracle, akin to San Marino winning the World Cup. I would say stranger things have happened but really Cittadella five points clear at the top I don’t think they have.
Finally mentioning some actually football that took place this weekend and it was Novara who were the latest to feel the force of the Cittadella tornado. Their opening goal came after 36 minutes but it could have come much earlier with the Granata passing up numerous opportunities to break the deadlock. Yet when it did come it came through the simplest of finishes when Luca Strizzolo placed home from a distance measuring about as much as a decapitated ant.
As if sensing that his first goal in all truth was pretty crap, Strizzolo more than made up for it with his second. Showing a great touch and then strength he made his way powerfully towards the Novara box before delicately sliding home for 2-0. On 73 minutes it was 3-0, thanks largely to Novara keeper David Da Costa racing from his goal and then misjudging the bounce of the ball in a tackle with the eventuall scorer Gianluca Litteri, who then stole in and finished off. Novara would pull one back on 87 minutes but yet again it proved to be Cittadella’s day.
Elsewhere around the league and on Saturday night Bari overturned Cesena at the San Nicola to win 2-1 and move into fourth in the table. I say Bari beat Cesena, although I would probably be more accurate in saying that Ricciardo Maniero beat Cesena. In fact, Bari may soon have to start thinking about changing the club name to Maniero FC seeing as the big striker is still the only player to have scored for the club after the first four rounds.
His first on this particular night was a lovely glancing header into the top left corner after a ball in from wide left. Cesena would level from a nice free kick on the edge of the area before that man Maniero would win and convert a penalty in the final seven minutes to give the Galletti a crucial win.
Verona got back into the winning groove at the Bentegodi when they beat the Lupi of Avellino 3-1. Daniel Bessa opened the scoring for the Gialloblu and will gain the credit even if he owes most of his good fortune to some pretty horrid keeping by Radunovic. Nicola Belloni would reply for the southerners but it was only a short levelling of matters as only a minute later on 37, Eros Pisano would head home a Verona second. Three minutes after that the win was secured thanks to Romulo and some embarrassing defending from the visitors. Verona go third, Avellino are a worrying third from bottom.
Vicenza fans were left dazed and confused leaving the Stadio Arechi in Salerno on Saturday night as they witnessed something they had not seen since the second last week of the 2015/16 season. What was that strange phenomenon you may ask, well it is this little thing called a goal. And as the old adage goes they were like buses, you wait ages for one and then two show up at the same time or in this case three as the Lane came away with a fine 3-2 against Salernitana. Still however their should be a deal of worry over the offensive output of Franco Lerda’s men.
A surprise early contender for the Serie B Capocannionere title is 28-year-old Cittadella forward Gianluca Litteri who has four goals alongside Ricciardo Maniero. In a career spent mostly in Serie B Litteri has never been what you would consider prolific. Indeed, more often than not he has been as deadly up front as an M1 Garand rifle was of use in taking out of King Tiger Tank (World War II reference there, look it up you philistines).
Salernitana, much was expected of them last season and they really failed to deliver and only just survived. In has come Beppe Sannino and much more was expected of them this season and once more they have so far failed to deliver. This is a club with massive potential that seemingly just can never put it all together.
Ascoli’s current record stands at played 3, drew 3, scored 3 conceded 3. No real great insight here but I think it just looks rather cool on the table.
Finally, we have our first midweek round of matches coming up, with plenty of chances for sides to finally get their season off the ground.
View Current Table HERE
Week 4 Results
Bari 2-1 Cesena, Carpi 0-0 Frosinone, Salernitana 2-3 Vicenza, Cittadella 3-1 Novara, Latina 1-1 Benevento, Perugia 1-1 Ternana, Pisa 1-0 Brescia, SPAL 2-2 Virtus Entella, Spezia 2-1 Pro Vercelli, Trapani 1-1 Ascoli, Hellas Verona 3-1 Avellino