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Adjusting to the gap between Serie A and Serie B

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By David Swan

Thursday 30 December 2010

Ignoring the fact they were all promoted last season from Serie B, there is one common denominator linking Lecce, Cesena and Brescia - a lack of goals this season. The issue facing the newly promoted sides is ensuring they have enough attacking power to make an impact at the highest level. Unfortunately, they have too many players who are having trouble coping with the jump in quality, and it is having an adverse affect on their prospects of survival.

Éder is possibly the best example of a striker who is one division too high. He was Serie B top scorer last season, having scored 27 goals for Empoli. He was certain to move to a Serie A club for the first time, and was linked with all and sundry – including an astonishing transfer to Milan – with many seemingly failing to notice just under half of his tally came from the penalty spot. In the end, he has had to settle for Brescia, and those clubs who were supposedly interested in his services must be breathing a huge sigh of relief. Having nearly hit 30 goals last season, he has just one this term, with not a single penalty keeping him in business.

Contrast that with his strike partner, Andrea Caracciolo, who already has five goals to his name (although three of these have come from penalties) and looks an infinitely greater threat in the penalty box. He scored 25 goals in Serie B in 2009/10, but his past experience in Serie A is helping immensely. His nous when battling for the ball against better defenders and his movement in the penalty area has the hallmark of a player who has scored at this level before. He managed 12 goals in 35 appearances for Brescia back in 2004/05, and hit nine in 35 appearances the following season with Palermo – a record that suggests he has the ability to score more this season.

Lecce faces similar problems with Daniele Corvia, who managed 17 goals in their promotion efforts last season, but has a feeble two in 12 appearances this term. Like Caracciolo, he has experience of playing in Serie A, but it is a huge contrast with the Brescia man who has shown he is probably out of his depth, having only managed one goal throughout the entire 2006/07 season for Siena (he repeated the trick the next season). It is a poor track record and indicative of a player who is not likely to score enough goals to keep a team in this league. Lecce Coach Luigi De Canio has cottoned on relatively quickly and dropped him from his line-up in November, instead preferring David di Michele, who does have a decent record of scoring at this level (nine in 29 appearances for Palermo in 2006/07), and has been rewarded with four goals.

Cesena had a slightly different problem coming up to Serie A, and it has probably worked slightly in their favour. Their top scorer last season was Guilhermo do Prado with a measly nine goals, a total that did not suggest he was going to cut it. He was offloaded to Southampton on loan, and in came Erjon Bogdani from Chievo – an Albanian who had an unspectacular 2009/10 campaign, but who has scored goals in Serie A before (11 in 34 appearances for Siena in 2004/05), and has returned four goals since his move. They did not have a striker who hit goal after goal in the second tier, and so were not taking a punt on the same individual doing the same in the top tier. Instead, they were forced to go straight for a guy who had demonstrated some goalscoring ability in Serie A before.

But even Cesena are not without adjustment issues. Emanuele Giaccherini, for all the early praise he received for his performances, has scored just once so far (he bagged eight in Serie B), and Ezequiel Schelotto has not scored at all having reached six goals last season. Neither has played in Serie A before, and both are finding it very difficult to score goals against the higher quality opposition, despite the rather adventurous 4-3-3 Coach Massimo Ficcadenti likes to employ.

Ultimately, all three clubs are being hurt by only having one effective striker, and in all cases the man with the proven track record is the one scoring the goals. Adjusting to Serie A without prior experience is turning out to be an incredibly arduous task for many players in the newly promoted teams, particularly those attackers.

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