World Cup 2006 reunion for Grosso, Nesta and Inzaghi in Serie B playoffsby Chloe Beresford / 01 June 2018, 22:01Tweet
While Empoli and Parma have already successfully secured automatic promotion to Serie A, fans of Italian football are still waiting to see who the third side to join the division will be as the playoff process was thrown into chaos last week.
Bari, Cittadella, Perugia and Venezia were due to battle it out for a place in the semi-finals alongside Frosinone and Palermo, however a hearing was set for May 25th as Bari were accused of financial irregularities and the matches were duly postponed.
The Galletti were found guilty of having incorrectly paid their players and were deducted two points, meaning that their match with Cittadella will now be played away from home, with the dates now set for this Sunday, June 3rd. The semi-finals are now scheduled for Wednesday, June 6th and the final over two legs on June 13th and 16th.
However, this is not the only thing that has created interest in who will come up from the second tier, as no less than three of the six bosses involved were team-mates in Italy’s World Cup winning squad from 2006.
Fabio Grosso - who scored the winning penalty versus France in the final - is in charge at Bari, while Pippo Inzaghi and Alessandro Nesta currently hold the reins at Venezia and Perugia respectively.
At least one of the trio will definitely make the semi-final, with Nesta the most recent appointment of them all. The former Lazio and Milan centre-back has two years experience in the North American Soccer League with Miami FC, however he left the club at the end of the 2017 season after failing in his attempt to reach the MLS after losing out in the playoffs.
Nesta arrived at Perugia earlier this month after they bizarrely fired Coach Roberto Breda, a man who arrived in October and had guided the side into a promotion spot. Now his successor will lead the team through the playoffs, essentially on the back of another man’s achievements.
“The President and I talked a few months ago and he proposed that I come to Perugia, but I was busy with another team,” Nesta revealed at his unveiling.
“I thank Breda, even if I do not know him, because he gave me the opportunity to play the play-offs. I’ll buy him a coffee if I see him.
“I’ve just arrived, so for me it all starts from zero. I hope the fans understand that and adjust everything accordingly.
"If the fans have a problem then they can come and see me and we can work it out - with words, of course, because physically I’m not up to it anymore!
"As for the players, I’ve known Alessandro Diamanti for a long time, I’ve played against him and he’s a pest on the pitch. I’ve been studying Perugia since Christmas though, so I already know everything.”
Meanwhile, Nesta’s former Rossoneri team-mate Inzaghi can take a lot more credit for the success of his Venezia side, having won Lega Pro in order to secure promotion to the second tier last season and finishing fifth this term in order to earn their playoff spot. This side’s ambitious American owners bought the club after bankruptcy in October 2015, and appointed Inzaghi just one season after winning promotion to Lega Pro at the first attempt.
If Inzaghi can beat his friend Nesta and advance to the semi-finals, Venezia could see their third-straight promotion into the top flight for the first time since the 2001/02 campaign, a remarkable achievement for all concerned.
For all the reasons outlined above, it is certainly worth keeping an eye on these second-tier playoffs this weekend, a cluster of matches where anything and everything could potentially happen.
The Andrea Pirlo testimonial. My goodness! We've witnessed some stars in our lifetime. Pippo Inzaghi still got it pic.twitter.com/nK0FOwVYyR— Deric Frost (@iDeric) May 23, 2018