As the contrasting fortunes of Pescara and Torino have demonstrated this season, it doesn't always follow that the better Serie B side will more ably adapt to life in Serie A. There's many factors which come into play, and which have seen Torino become a pretty secure unit and Pescara a hapless, miserable bunch who haven't won a game in over four months. Sampdoria -- who were promoted only by virtue of winning the Serie B playoffs last season -- have done even better than Toro.
Of course, it doesn't always work out that way. The season before last, Atalanta were promoted as champions, and managed to survive in Serie A comfortably -- despite a six-point deduction. Siena, who were promoted automatically, also survived relegation. It was the team that won the playoffs, Novara, who wound up as the hapless miserables. So, it's pretty hard to predict who'll actually manage to survive -- or at least come close to surviving. So, at risk of an eggy face, here's an attempt.
Like Pescara, Sassuolo have been narrowly promoted from Serie B as champions, and have also done it playing an impressive, offensive 4-3-3. Eusebio Di Francesco's reputation as a coach has soared. Yet, they've not convinced that they're anywhere near ready for a season in Serie A. They've been impressive collectively with a couple of standout performers, but they're mostly a side without any experience above the second tier.
Experience is important in stopping a team frantically panicking when the inevitable bad results set in. Already Sassuolo's relatively young side have looked unconvincing when under serious pressure, throwing away three chances at promotion before eventually beating Livorno on the final game of the season. Pescara gambled on talented youth rather than solid experience ahead of last season -- see Juanfer Quintero, Vladimír Weiss and Ante Vukušić -- when immediate survival was more important than a long-term project. It was a disastrous transfer policy.
That's not the only Pescara parallel -- Sassuolo have been promoted by scoring lots of goals, but defensively they've not been as convincing, conceding eight more times than their also-promoted Hellas Verona. In Serie A it's probably more important to be able to keep a clean sheet than hope to outscore better opponents -- just ask Zdeněk Zeman, with his Pescara team a prime example of how an over reliance on attack will lead to sides becoming unstuck.
However, where Sassuolo are better suited to promotion than the delfini is that they're probably not going to have the core of their team ripped apart this summer. Whereas Pescara lost literally the four most important cogs in their wonderful Serie B machine -- Zeman, Lorenzo Insigne, Marco Verratti and Ciro Immobile -- Sassuolo aren't as heavily reliant on loanees. In fact, even if they don't hold on to Richmond Boakye, Andrea Catellani and Raman Chibsah -- their three first-team loanees -- it wouldn't be terminal.
Still, they can't rest on their laurels. Torino made solid purchases last summer of Serie A players with a proven CV. Alessandro Gazzi joined from Siena to bolster the midfield, goalkeeper Jean-François Gillet arrived from Bologna and Alessio Cerci was a masterstroke of a signing from Fiorentina, helping Toro beat the drop. Sassuolo must do the same. They need to strengthen, and, owned by one of Italy's richest men, they've no excuses not to do so. The likes of 18-year-old Domenico Berardi look outstanding prospects, though can't be expected to deliver consistently on such a high level yet.
Hellas Verona must also be busy in the off-season, as, of the two promoted sides, it's the gialloblu who seem more likely to lose important players. Starting right-back Fabrizio Cacciatore is owned by Sampdoria and exciting left-back-cum-winger Raphael Martinho by Catania, while there are a handful more of loanees to be found on the bench. Midfielder Jorginho has been attracting the attention of AC Milan, with some reporting a deal has already been agreed.
However, Hellas are at an advantage in having a sturdy defence and considerably more experienced side. By a not-insignificant six-goal margin, they've conceded fewer goals than any other side in the division, while also boasting the league's top scorer in 29-year-old ex-Fiorentina and Lecce striker Daniele Cacia. He's just one in a string of experienced players in the mastini starting eleven.
Under Andrea Mandorlini Hellas have shown an ability to play on the counter-attack, and adopt an all-round more cautious approach than Sassuolo; less reliant on control of possession. It's a strategy which should stand them in good stead next season, and one which initially gives them as good a chance of survival as the Serie B champions, who'll certainly have to adapt their style.
That's not to suggest they Hellas will manage to survive in Serie A -- their concerns about departing personnel are obvious, and even a fair portion of their main starters haven't had much more of a feel for Serie A. But, from a starting position, their experience and strategy means they look better set than Sassuolo for the inescapable onslaught to follow. Whether that will be the case come August will depend on how both sides' transfer campaigns play out.