Wednesday May 16 2018
Survival of the fittest

Going into the final round of the season, there are still five teams who could be relegated to Serie B, so Ramez Nathan analyses the situation.

After only one season, Benevento and Hellas Verona have already lost their status in the top flight, and in the past two weeks the fate of who will join them in Serie B has been twisting and turning dramatically.

For a long while Chievo and Udinese seemed to be the worst sides in Serie A. Rolando Maran grabbed only two wins in his last 22 games in charge of the Flying Donkeys, while Massimo Oddo lost 11 a club record consecutive matches before getting the sack.

However, the two clubs changed their Coaches, Lorenzo D'Anna grabbing all six points from his two games at the helm of Chievo and Igor Tudor collecting four points in his three games.

It is hard to see one of the two teams descending to Serie B, as the last fixture for the Zebrette will be against a Bologna side that failed to win any of their last five matches and a Coach that has one foot out the club. Meanwhile Chievo will be against the team tailing the league, with the worst defence in the competition, Benevento. Even if one of them suffered defeat, it will need the other four to win their ties for Udinese or Chievo to be relegated.

On the other hand, last season's miracle makers Crotone and newcomers SPAL have enjoyed flashes of magic throughout this campaign, earning draws with Juventus and Inter, yet are the closest to the bottom with tough games lying ahead of them.

The Pitagorici will travel to the Stadio San Paolo to face Napoli and the Biancazzurri are up against one of the best Sampdoria sides since Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini left the club.

The two teams could still survive even if they did not win their last game of the season, as a draw for each side could see Cagliari fall down the pecking order.

Last week's triumph over Fiorentina was shocking and vital for the Sardinians, putting them one point ahead of Crotone and SPAL, but they are facing the toughest final fixture. Atalanta need the points to secure their Europa League status.

Cagliari hold the third worst front-line with 32 goals and the last time they achieved two wins in a row was back in November.

Neutrals will feel rather sad to see Benevento go, as they may have been appalling at times, but were rarely dull. SPAL and Crotone brought some sparkle to the relegation battle and it’d be disappointing to see them go while Chievo, Udinese and Bologna can coast to safety doing the bare minimum.

If a team can lose 11 rounds in a row and still not go down, it doesn’t say much for the competitiveness of the league.

Have your say...

not just tv money stadium ticket sales merchandising fees sponsorship a range of extra income generated by having a 20 team league. I think you would serious issues as well in structuring relegation and promotion initially. I would also question the tv deal sky seems to operating a unfair advantage in this market i will never understand why a company which comes along and bids more for the rights is turned away. I would question with advantage how you will get a better deal.
on the 17th May, 2018 at 2:55pm

the tv money might be down 10% due to less games, but then it'll also be shared between 18 teams, so the net impact for clubs will be minimal. They can even negotiate the same or a higher price, since quality of games should be better.

if u mean youngsters from the big teams, yes, they might play 2-3 less games. but how many talents come out of Verona, Benevento, etc? makes no diff if they played in B

Serie B will be more competitive too. better teams, and more incentive for promotion
on the 17th May, 2018 at 8:13am
I’m for 18 teams rather than 20. It will tighten up competition relegation battles will be even more intense. Better transfers in windows cuz of better players. The seasons are overbooked, too many games.europa and CL games will matter more to teams. Nothing will change in Serie B. Make it 22 teams look at poor Benevento started 1st season ever in A,was in last place entire season from 1st game to last. Media set wants to show only good games. 34 games is still alot.and there’s Coppa Italia.
on the 17th May, 2018 at 5:36am
Based on the list I just provided, Serie A should take a bigger step and reduce the number of teams to 16, with one or two relegated each year. Given the number of games and traveling players have in a calendar year, less is more in terms of football quality. This will also allow teams to spend more time practicing and put more emphasis on every week. People would probably watch more of each game given its added importance and the limited amount of games.
on the 16th May, 2018 at 10:23pm
I say that Serie A should take a big step and downsize the league to 16 teams. With the number of games that players have in a single year, less would be more in terms of football quality. Further, each game would mean a lot more and teams would be able to spend more time practicing.
on the 16th May, 2018 at 10:18pm
These are the teams who finished 16-20 the past few years:
10-11: Bologna, Lecce, Sampdoria, Brescia, Bari
11-12: Palermo, Genoa, Lecce, Novara, Cesena
12-13: Torino, Genoa, Palermo, Siena, Pescara
13-14: Chievo, Sassuolo, Catania, Bologna, Livorno
14-15: Udinese, Atalanta, Cagliari, Cesena, Parma
15-16: Palermo, Udinese, Carpi, Frosinone, Verona
16-17: Genoa, Crotone, Empoli, Palermo, Pescara

I am not sure Serie A as a whole would miss the majority of these teams.
on the 16th May, 2018 at 10:08pm

if you reduce the amount of teams you reduce the amount of games which reduces the amount of money needed to buy the tv rights.

less games mean less time for younger players to get first team football

limiting the league places will create a league in which only the richest clubs can afford to compete

it would negatively affect serie b in so ways i can't even begin to get into them

most top european leagues play with 20 teams even germany is considering expanding their top tier
on the 16th May, 2018 at 4:32pm
I suppose so but lets be fair here in order for chievo or udinese to be dragged into crotone has to beat napoli and spal has to beat sampdoria. Calgari in particular have a real tough game against atalanta who are fighting for 6th. I would bet on calgari to get a draw spal because they are at home might get a draw crotone away at napoli who knows should lose to be honest.
on the 16th May, 2018 at 4:26pm
We really need to have 18 teams in Serie A. So many advantages!

1. More competitive league as the best players are spread out between 18 clubs rather than 20. So quality of football improves.
2. 4 less games for teams. Helpful for the teams in Europe to manage their workloads & be more competitive. Allows an extra week of winter break.
3. Closer relegation fight, occasionally including a big team. 16th place can have a playoff with 3rd ranked Serie B team.
4. Reduces number of one-sided games.
on the 16th May, 2018 at 8:06am

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