2017-18 SERIE A PREVIEW

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The first Serie A season in Benevento’s 88-year history will be a memorable one, writes Andrew Richardson

Benevento fairy-tale

Benevento are the latest Italian side to enjoy a fairy-tale promotion to Serie A after Carpi two years ago and Crotone last term. Both found it hard, but only the latter lived to fight another campaign — and even that was in miraculous circumstances. Their aim is simple: to do whatever it takes to finish the season in at least 17th place.

Despite every expert predicting the club will be down by Christmas, owner Oreste Vigorito is adamant they are up for the fight. “We will make sure this is a good season,” he said during the 2017-18 kit launch. “I am proud and guarantee we will not be in over our heads in Serie A.”

They finished last season in fifth place in Serie B and actually beat Carpi 1-0 in a tense play-off to ensure an historic promotion to Italy’s top flight for the first time in their 88-year history.

It caps an incredible 12 years for the Streghe, who actually went out of business in 2005. Benevento Calcio S.p.A. replaced F.C. Sporting Benevento S.r.I. and started the 2007-08 campaign in Italy’s fourth tier. They made their way up the divisions and now matches against the likes of Juventus, Roma and the Milan clubs await them.

They have kept faith with Marco Baroni, the Coach who oversaw the miracle, and will still be reliant on Fabio Ceravolo, who hit 20 goals en route to promotion last season.

However, as Gianluca Lapadula proved, a successful goal-scoring campaign in B does not always translate in to A. The Genoa loanee scored 27 for Pescara in the second tier before joining Milan, where he struggled.

Vigorito ensured the club retained the services of Lorenzo Venuti, as they brought in the Fiorentina right-back on loan for a second successive season. The 22-year-old was an ever-present during their promotion campaign.

Benevento have put their trust in loan spells, as they look to avoid spending huge sums on players with Serie A survival far from guaranteed. As well as Venuti, the Campania-based club have also brought George Puscas back from Inter. The Romanian striker scored the famous winner against Carpi which clinched promotion in June. Danilo Cataldi is another loan arrival, joining from Lazio until the end of the season, as is Colombian striker Alexis Zapata, who came from Udinese.

Survival in Serie A has never been as achievable as next season, however, with the likes of Spal and Crotone also in the top flight and at a similar level to Benevento.

For Baroni’s side, 17th would be a dream finish. Sassuolo, who were the original miracle when they achieved promotion in 2013, may also struggle next season after losing Coach Eusebio Di Francesco to Roma.

Last season, Benevento finished fourth in both the most goals and fewest conceded chart, and will need to once again strike a good balance to have any chance of survival.

The team

2017-18 prediction

To finish in 17th place would be incredible for Benevento, but that looks a stretch. Their signings are big gambles, with several young players. They are helped by the fact there are teams in similar circumstances, but will need to stay clear of injuries and have plenty of luck along the way. A win over a top team would be memorable, but the main thing will be to take points off their relegation rivals.

Graphics created using Piktochart