Italian Serie B, Week 1 Review: Italian Football's Second Division Kicks Off!

VERONA, ITALY - AUGUST 26: Pescara Calcio, head coach Zdenek Zeman, during the Serie B match between Hellas Verona FC and Pescara Calcio at Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi on August 26, 2011 in Verona, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

As Serie A has been suspended, Italian football fans have to look towards Serie B's first round of games.

Since the Serie A club owners and players failed to reach a collective bargaining agreement, the first round of games has been suspended. The Players' Association have also claimed that Week 2 could also be called off. 

So with no Serie A for at least another two weeks, Italian football fanatics have turned their attention to the magical surprises of Serie B that started on Thursday.

Sampdoria 2-2 Padova

A game between two sides that ended last season full of disappointment kicked off Serie B, Sampdoria were relegated from the top division having started the season in the Champions League. While Novara beat Padova in a play-off to get into Serie A over two legs. With both sides aiming for promotion, perhaps it was a fair that the game ended in a draw. Cristian Bertani opened the scoring, but Padova equalised with an amazing strike by Omar Milanetto. Samp captain Angelo Palombo gave his side the lead, but it ended two-two as centre back Raffaele Schiavi also got on the score sheet. A rude awakening for Samp, as they realise that life in B might not be that straightforward.

Verona 1-2 Pescara

One of the big news stories in B this summer was that journeyman manager Zdeněk Zeman would be taking over at Pescara, and he got off to a great start with a win against Verona. Zeman has brought in his new attacking and very little defending tactics that are always entertaining. Verona are one of the promoted teams this season, after four years in Serie C1. In the thirteenth minute Pescara lead thanks to Ciro Immobile, a player that started his career in the Juventus youth system. In the second half an own goal by Luca Ceccarelli doubled their lead, but the Verona man redeemed himself by getting a consolation goal two minutes from time. Zeman's men off to a good start, watch out for them this season. 

Bari 0-0 Varese

Yet again two teams that are aiming to get into Serie A played out a draw. Bari struggled horribly last season in A, and it looks like this season won't be any different. There has been a bit of unrest among the players, the culminated in one throwing a plate at another. Verona on the other hand lost out to Padova in a play-off semi final after finishing fourth last season. The game it's self was a bit of a disappointed, both sides taking a valuable point in the end.

Empoli 2-1 Juve Stabia

Empoli are another side that have their sights on the play-offs, while Juve Stabia are newly promoted and are expected to go straight back down. Juve are here just to enjoy it and really have nothing to loss and are full of enthusiasm, and they actually went ahead when a header hit the post and Lithuanian striker Tomas Danilevicius got the tap in. Empoli went on to dominate the game and missed count less chances, including a brilliant free kick that bounced off the post. The second half came around and they eventually equalised through Napoli loanee Nicolao Dumitru, as he thumped it in from a few yards out. Juve has no reply and got weaker as the game went on even having to save the ball of the line, and the inevitable happened when Empoli went ahead. This time in the seventy-eight minute through Francesco Tavano, as he coolly slotted home on the edge of the box. It was not all good news fro Empoli however, as Mirko Valdifiori has shown a straight red for a high foot eight minutes from time. Juve had a few chances, but it ended 2-1 to Empoli.

Ascoli 1-2 Torino

Both of these sides long to get back into the glory days of the top division and expect to see both challenging throughout the season. Torinio have been desperately trying to keep hold of stars Angelo Ogbonna and Rolando Bianchi, and it looks as though they will. Ascoli start the season with -7 points as they were convicted off match-fixing. Despite Torinio being favourites Ascoli took the lead after just four minutes through Palermo Loanee Siniša Anđelković. His header slowly rolled over line from a corner. Just minutes before Torinio claimed they had the ball over the Ascoli line, but it was not given. Both sides had chances, but it took until the seventy-second minute for another goal. Tornio were awarded a debatable penalty, and Bianchi put it away. Ten minutes from time Marcello Gazzola was sent off for a second yellow after coming on. Ascoli hearts were broken when three minutes from time Milan loanee Nnamdi Oduamadi gave Torino the win with a cool finish one-on-one with the keeper. 

Brescia 2-0 Vicenza

Brescia are yet another one of the teams looking to get back into Serie A, as they were relegated last season. While Vicenza have been in Serie B for eleven seasons, and not a lot has changed. Brescia opened the scoring after just nine minutes through Hungarian striker Róbert Feczesin. He had an easy tap in after a good team move. Brescia completely dominated the game, with numerous chances amd even hit the post. Eventually Brazilian striker on loan from AZ Alkmaar Jonathas Maurício grabbed a second in the fifty-sixth minute. That was game over, but it had really ended in the ninth minute.

Crotone 1-2 Livorno

Livorno kicked off their fifty-third season in Serie B, and have the most foreigners in the league with fourteen. While Crotone are dark horses for perhaps a play-off place, but it looks like they'll have stiff competition. Crotone took the lead after twelve minutes with Alessandro Florenzi getting his head on a corner that the Livorno defence froze. Livorno woke up a few minutes later and had two penalty claims in the space of five minutes. One was not given while the other was, and Federico Dionsi stepped up and coolly finished. Crotone had numerous chances, and the Livorno keeper pulled off some amazing saves. Luck was with Livorno however, and they were awarded another penalty, and it was duly dispatched yet again by Dionsi. Crotone battled on bravely, and were extremely unlucky, eventually losing 2-1.

Reggina 4-1 Modena

Reggina lost out to Novara in a play-off semi finals last term, and will be looking to bounce back and have another crack at them. Modena on the other hand are a very inconsistent side, they will go on good runs and then they will fall apart, they really need stability. Both sides started brightly put it was Reggina that went a goal to the good withAlessio Campagnacci's exquisite shot that hit the crossbar and went in. He completed a brace when the Modena defense was too slow and all he had to do was slot it home. Simone Missiroli used his incredible pace to beat the whole Modena defence and put it in off the post. Modena got what could only have been a consolation in the fifty-eight minute, and it was Milan loanee Davide Di Gennaro. Simone Rizzato secured the victory for Reggina with a good finish. Modena have a lot of work to do.

Cittadella 2-1 Albinoleffe

Cittadella are a consistently mediocre side, and never seem to have the will to push up the table. Albionleffe are lucky to still be in Serie B, as they beat Piacenza in a play-off to stay up. With nineteen minutes gone a freekick was floated in and was headed across to Daniele Gasparetto headed it into an empty net to put Cittadella ahead. They now had all the momentum, but a defensive mistake saw a penalty awarded to Albinoleffe. The keeper came close but Pierre Regonesi put it in to level the scoring. Cittadella went on to win with a beautiful team goal, as Ferdinando Vitofrancesco picked up a great backheel and put it in the top corner from outside the box.

Sassuolo 3-1 Nocerina

Both Sassuolo and Nocerina will be down in the bottom half of the table come next May, so it was important to both that they get a result in early. It was a dream start for Nocerina, as a corner was scrambled into the net by R. Di Maio. It was short lived as Sassuolo replied with a corner of their own, Emanuele Terranova heading home. Sassuolo went ahead as Genoa loanee Yiadom Boakye powered it into the bottom corner from outside the box. The game ended before half time as Gianluca Sansone bundled it over the line from a cross. There were no goals in the second half. Nocerina starting badly.

Grosseto 2-0 Gubbio

Like the match before, both of these sides will struggle to pick up results this season. Gubbio are a sensational story, as two years ago they were in the fourth division. Luis Alfageme forced the ball into the net as the only player that looked like moving for Gubbio was the keeper. Grosseto doubled their lead with the worst goalkeeping I have ever seen. Gaetano Caridi stuck it in, as the Gubbio keeper decided not to pick the ball up. Game over.

At times Serie B (or Serie Bwin) can be exciting and full of goals, then it can be full of errors and players that should not be professionals. It's interesting to look at youth players that Serie A teams have loaned down to the division for experience. While there are also many journeyman and players that never lived up to their potential. Serie B is worth keeping your eye on.

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