Back in Serie A three years on from their relegation, there’s a new look about Pescara, writes Rossella Marrai-Ricco.
It was unlike all the celebrations calcio fans had seen from Massimo Oddo. Famous for bursting out into pure joy, stripping down to his briefs and gulping back swigs of champagne, the blue-eyed Coach showed a more mature and sensitive side to himself after his side secured promotion against Trapani. The former defender left the wild celebrations for his players while he embraced a teary Serse Cosmi on the sidelines after Pescara’s 3-1 aggregate win.
Pescara’s elevation into the league above was one that many felt was deserved. Passion and dedication was continuously on display, while off-field Oddo would cap off every result with a motivational analysis on his Instagram account.
His own personal touch is what separated his team from the others, but he won’t be able to rely purely on that when the Biancazzurri gear up to face the big boys.
The loss of Gianluca Lapadula to the tactician’s former club Milan will weigh heavily at the back of their minds. The 26-year-old finished as Serie B’s top scorer with 27 goals in 40 appearances, and his exit has added pressure onto Gianluca Caprari’s shoulders.
The biggest let-down of the 2012-13 side was that management failed to strengthen the squad after their automatic promotion. This time round, the board has been working hard at building a team fit enough to survive the relegation battle.
Oddo has already stated he isn’t scared of fighting for survival, and he is well aware of what type of players he wants in his side in order to stay afloat. His clear project has won over the trust of the players and the executives, but he will need the results to do the talking for him.
The former Milan man will make his Serie A coaching debut after having led Pescara to promotion via the Serie B play-offs. The animated tactician likes to instill a sense of team spirit within the squad, and a large portion of his game relies on this motivation and mental preparation.
The 23-year-old finished as Pescara’s second highest goal-scorer last season with 17 strikes in 38 games, and the pressure is on to take over from the departed Lapadula as the club’s leading striker.
The Albanian was snapped up by Pescara from Inter and he has already proven to be a positive buy, as he has found the back of the net on a handful of occasions during pre-season. At the age of just 19, the Delfini have a young talent on their side.
Once considered one of Milan’s most promising midfielders, Cristante endured limited game time last season at Benfica and then Palermo. However, there is no doubting his talent, and if Oddo can get the best out of him, the 21-year-old could be knocking on the Azzurri door.
The Chilean was surprisingly linked with a return to Italy, with Oddo said to be a fan of his. Pizarro’s experience would have been crucial to a young side looking to establish themselves in Serie A.
BIZZARRI; Zampano, BIRAGHI, Coda, Zuparic; Memushaj, BRUGMAN, Benali, Verre; Caprari, MANAJ