Every year as Serie A welcomes its three newest entrants to the league, there is always plenty discussion about which of them has the most potential staying power.
It is never easy being the “new kid” in town as the rest of the field tends to circle the promoted sides on the calendar as opportunities to snatch up easy points in a long season. In 2020-21, however, Spezia have been anything but a pushover, claiming the scalps of some top sides and proving a worthy adversary on any givenmatch-day.
Of the three new contestants, Benevento seemed to embark on the most ambitious survival quest in their return to top flight under Pippo Inzaghi, executing a few shrewd signings in the summer to withstand potentially troubled waters. Then there is the Calabrese from Crotone who, with prior experience in the division, could perhaps look to navigate the league diﬀerently and take another approach to overcome a lack in firepower. For Spezia though, who earned promotion for the first time from Serie B via play-oﬀs, the expectations weremixed.
Newly purchased by American owner Robert Platek, The Ligurian club’s wage bill is the current lowest of all Serie A sides and coach Vincenzo Italiano has only two previous seasons of experience to his name in the professional ranks prior to this one, the most notable being at Trapani.
In a squad with a healthy mixture of locally developed players and calcio journeymen, it would certainly take something extra special from the man in the dug-out to tie loose ends and employ a system that could ultimately obtain results. That is exactly what we have seen through 22 rounds.
Mister Italiano’s 4-3-3 emphasizes deploying a front three which will commit to pressing assignments that typically prove challenging to maintain after the initial stages of a match.
It becomes problematic when energy is depleted and the intensity is simply not there to preventthe opposition from building eﬀectively beyond the initial wave. Unless there is a collective commitment to this, it it very diﬃcult to stay in a match as passing lanes and space are often gaped open as a result of switching oﬀ.
While they have certainly experienced a fair share of trouble against some of the league’s top competitors, Italiano’s tactics have often kept the Aquilotti lingering around to scrap for results, or at the very least, make the opposition grind it out until the very end.
Notable league results include victories over Benevento (0-3), Napoli (1-2), Sassuolo (1-2) and the most recent a clean sheet of league leading Milan (2-0), while also suﬀering narrow defeats to Inter, Lazio and Roma that show their fighting spirit in the face of stronger sides.
One could attempt to highlight the individual exploits of Riccardo Saponara, Milan loanee Tommaso Poebga, Matteo Ricci, or academy graduates Simone Bastoni and Giulio Maggiore. But this is a side led by a manager who runs a squad out there who plays collectively for one another, without fear, and instead, encourages them to express themselves while adhering to a style of play that can be put to memory.
Sitting nine points clear of the drop in 13th, Spezia are the little fish in a large pond that while isn’t quite out of the woods just yet, shows tremendous belief in Italiano, his vision and approach to earning a spot at the dinner table for next season.