Wednesday, December 3 rd, 2014
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Serie A's newcomers: the seahorses, the coach-eater and Big-Mac Maccarone
The three newly-promoted sides, Palermo, Empoli and Cesena already tasted Italian football's top flight in a recent past. In the last season the Sicilian club beat the 85-points record set by Juventus in Serie B. It's time to chase a European qualificatio
by Mohamed Ezzat
The 2014-15 season has brought us so far 3 new competitors from Serie B: Palermo, Cesena and Empoli. None of them is new to the Italian top flight.

Let's start from the club that comes from Riviera Romagnola: Cesena. The club was founded in 1940 and obtained their first promotion to Serie A in 1973. Since then, the club has been in the Serie A for a total of 11 seasons, reaching the best achievement in 1976 with a sixth place finish and a short run in the following season's UEFA Cup.

The Cavallucci Marini (seahorses) achieved three other promotions in Serie A in 1981, 1987 and 2010, the last one after two consecutive promotions - from the third league (Lega Pro) in 2009 and from Serie B in 2010, and both came in the final game of the season! Despite having been promoted to Serie A, their road to the top three was anything but easy. They finished fourth and they were forced to clash with another 5 teams to go for the promotion playoffs. The Bianconeri prevailed over Latina on a 4–2 aggregate. In that match, most of the players (12 out of 20) were on loan from other clubs, and only 4 were under contract in the starting line-up (Renzetti, De Feudis, Garritano and Defrel), eight if we count the other four who sat on the bench, (Iglio, Consolini, Rodríguez and Succi). Cesena are not expected to hold a winning-underdog role as happened to Hellas Verona, as their financial difficulties are preventing them from reinforcing the squad as much as they need.

Empoli ended the last Serie B season as runner ups behind Palermo. The Tuscan club was founded in 1920 and spent most of the last decade bouncing between Serie A and Serie B. Most recently, Empoli was relegated to Serie B in 2004, but secured promotion back to Serie A in the next season, finishing first in Serie B and qualified for European football for the first time in their history with a respectable 7th place finish. 2007–08 was the seventh Serie A season for Empoli, particularly impressive for a team in a city of only 45,000 inhabitants.

Empoli have one of the best youth teams in Italy. An amazing talent like Vincenzo Montella made his first steps there. The former Roma and Zenit San Petersburg manager Luciano Spalletti also had some good times there as a player and later as a coach, where he started his career. Empoli will count on a wonderful attacking duo: Ciccio Tavano and Massimo "Big Mac" Maccarone. They sum 70 years (35 each), but it seems that time didn't pass for them, as Maccarone scored 15 goals and Tavano 22 in the last season. Both are Empoli's legends as Tavano will play his 9th season there (scoring 108 goals) and 2014-2015 will be the sixth for Maccarone. Time well spent, as “Big Mac” netted 66 times. Maccarone also played in the Premier League with Middlesbrough, where he found the net 18 times. Empoli are not going to be an easy opponent for a lot of teams in the 2014-2015.

Palermo literally dominated the last Serie B setting a new record of 86 points, a great feat especially because they beat the previous 85 points record set by Juventus in their first – and last, so far – Serie B season in 2006-2007. The Rosanero (pink-black) were born in 1900 as Anglo Panormitan Athletic and Football Club, the club had various names before assuming its final form in 1987 and is the top-ranked football club from the island of Sicily. During their history, Palermo played in all the professional leagues of Italy, and took part to several Serie A seasons during the 1960s and early 1970s. Palermo reached the Coppa Italia final for three times: 1973-74 (they lost against Bologna), 1974-78 (Juventus prevailed at the extra-time) and 2010-2011, when Inter raised the trophy.

Following its return to Serie A in 2004, the club has become one of the most prominent in Italy, also providing four players to the Italian team that won the 2006 FIFA World Cup: Cristian Zaccardo, Andrea Barzagli, Simone Barone and the unforgettable Fabio Grosso. In their recent history the Aquile (eagles) reached a UEFA Cup place in three seasons, narrowly missing UEFA Champions League qualification in 2007 and 2010.

Football teams need stability, but this is something that president Maurizio Zamparini doesn’t believe in. Although he's from Veneto (a northern-east Italian region) he has a Sicilian temper: he always offers some original statements to the press and, above all, he's a "coach-eater": in 25 years of presidency (between Venezia and Palermo) he brought in 44 coaches! At Palermo, he changed 28 coaches in 11 years. His latest victim is Gennaro Gattuso, hired as manager for the club's 2013–14 Serie B campaign, but sacked shortly after. Dear coach Giuseppe Iachini: forewarned is forearmed...

Saturday, August 2 nd, 2014
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