Analyzing the Fight for Survival in Serie A

The last international break has been and gone and top-flight football is back during the Easter holidays in Italy. The race for survival is getting interesting with just five points separating Sassuolo in 19th to Lecce in 13th in the Serie A standings. Sitting rock bottom is Salernitana who have just appointed their fourth coach of the season in Stefano Colantuono. Paulo Sousa was brought in last season/last year in February 2023 and started the current campaign in charge but was fired on October 10th 2023.


Filippo Inzaghi was announced on the same day but he lasted just 124 days and was fired on February 11th, 2024. Fabio Liverani was then brought in to replace Inzaghi, Liverani only lasted five games. Four defeats and a sole draw away at Udinese was enough for Liverani to be fired. There were strong rumours of Filippo Inzaghi being brought back to be back on the bench for the final nine games of the season but Salernitana appointed Stefano Colantuono who had been appointed the club academy manager in August 2022.



This is the third time that Colantuono has been in charge on the Salernitana bench, fired after almost a year in charge in December 2018. Re-hired in October 2021 after replacing Fabrizio Castori, he would be sacked in February 2022 after a 1-1 away draw at Genoa.  It has been a nightmare season for Salernitana with just two league wins all season, both coming in the first half of the season: a 2-1 home win over Lazio and on the final matchday of 2023 gameday eighteen a 1-0 away win at Hellas Verona.


To start 2024, Salernitana have picked up just two points from a possible thirty three. Nine defeats out of the last eleven games, the two draws were a 0-0 draw away at Torino and a 1-1 draw at Udinese. The next game is on Easter Monday in the lunch time kick-off away at Bologna, but the next game after is the bottom-of-the-table clash against second-bottom Sassuolo.


The remaining fixtures for Salernitana they play three of the bottom seven but do play including the game on Monday against Bologna four out of the top six. They also play Lazio and Fiorentina who are two teams hovering just outside of the top seven. A tall order for Colantuono and Salernitana in the fight for top-flight survival in Italy. 


Next is Sassuolo and a team I have seen in recent seasons in Italy give bloody noses to the top seven and regularly pick up points against the seven sisters of Italian football. But this season on the pitch the club has been in freefall, Sassuolo find themselves second-bottom in Serie A with twenty three points from twenty nine points. Sassuolo are onto the third coach of the season.


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Alessio Dionisi, who replaced Roberto De Zerbi in 2021, was fired on February 25th and replaced for one game by Sassuolo Primavera manager Emiliano Bigica, who oversaw a 6-1 home defeat to Napoli. Davide Ballardini, one of Italian football’s foremost firefighters, has taken charge, and he’ll be looking to complete yet another great escape with the Neroverdi.


Roma found it tough as they scraped to a 1-0 home win. The run of form that Sassuolo has been on since the middle of November has been appalling, on matchday thirteen they won 4-3 away at Empoli, since Sassuolo picked up two wins from sixteen games in Serie A. Twelve defeats and two draws, the two wins was both 1-0 home wins over Fiorentina and Frosinone and the two draws were a 2-2 draw away at Udinese and 1-1 home draw at home to Torino. 


The midfield core of the side from last season was ripped apart as both Davide Frattesi and Maxime Lopez left the club originally on loan to both Inter Milan and Fiorentina, respectively. The loss of top scorer Domenico Berardi to a season-ending Achilles injury is a massive blow, he missed a month of action in late January to late February with a knee injury.


Berardi started the season wonderfully with nine goals and three assists in fourteen games, then went goalless in his next three games against AC Milan, Fiorentina, and Juventus. He then played sixty minutes against Hellas Verona where Sassuolo struggled to a 1-0 away defeat and picked up the Achilles injury which Berardi will miss the rest of the season and puts him a massive doubt for the Euros in Germany in the summer. 




Frosinone are the third club to sit in the relegation zone and the first of the promoted clubs from Serie B last season, coached by former Roma and Sassuolo coach Eusebio Di Francesco. Frosinone started the season well playing exciting attacking football with a core of on-loan young players from Juventus, Matias Soule excelling and showing his potential to the world. All of Frosinone’s wins this season in Serie A have been at home with wins over Atalanta, Sassuolo, Hellas Verona, Empoli, Genoa and on matchday twenty-one the last win for Frosinone was a 3-1 home win over Cagliari. 


The main struggles for Frosinone this season in Serie A have been the away for with, eleven defeats from fourteen games. Just three draws which is appalling, they have picked up just three points from a possible forty-two which has been the club downfall this season under Di Francesco, they struggle to pick up points away from home. 


Going into the Easter fixture away at Genoa and the remaining eight games after that the form showed by Di Francesco’s Frosinone side is worrying, six defeats in the last seven games has seen the club drop from thirteenth in the Serie A standings to looking over the shoulders and sitting in the final relegation spot. Just one point picked up from a possible twenty-one which was a 1-1 home draw against Lecce. There have been some big defeats also including a 5-1 away defeat to Fiorentina and 3-0 home loss to AS Roma. 


There are five clubs separated by just three points above the relegation zone with Empoli in seventeenth on twenty five points to Lecce in thirteenth on twenty eight points, all fighting and scrapping for points. Empoli’s form in recent months has been sensational since Davide Nicola has come in charge and replaced Aurelio Andreazzoli. Andreazzoli was fired just after sixteen games in charge, having previously taken charge after Paolo Zanetti was sacked following a 7-0 loss to Roma on matchday four.



Empoli were second-bottom when the fire-fighter type coach/manager Davide Nicola came in, he has a reputation for saving clubs from precarious positions such as Salernitana, Torino and Crotone. Empoli went unbeaten in Davide Nicola’s first six games in charge with three wins and three draws. But the last three games have seen three defeats on the spin all 1-0 to Cagliari, AC Milan and to Bologna where they played well for seventy minutes and sat back invited the pressure and conceded a late goal in stoppage time to Giovanni Fabbian. 


It does get more tough for Davide Nicola’s Empoli side on Monday night where they travel to Milan to take on the league leaders Inter. But for Empoli they do play three teams in the final nine games of the season who are also fighting for Serie A survival in Lecce, Frosinone, and Udinese. 


Cagliari under legendary coach Claudio Ranieri find themselves just above the relegation zone in sixteenth place with twenty-six points from twenty nine games, the same points tally as Hellas Verona in fifteenth place, but Cagliari have a worse goal difference of minus twenty one to minus thirteen of Hellas Verona. They were promoted through the Serie B play offs, beating Parma in the semifinal and Bari in the final over two legs thanks to a dramatic late goal from Leonardo Pavoletti winning the game and the tie 1-0. 


In Serie A, they have found it a bit tough and have managed to grind results recently, remember they did go winless at the start of the season and did not manage to pick up there first win of the season until late October on match day ten in that crazy game against Frosinone. They were 3-0 down after seventy-one minutes and managed to win the game 4-3 thanks to two late goals in stoppage time from Leonardo Pavoletti. Mario Mancosu in this game also missed a penalty for Cagliari in the first half. 



The home form has been key for Cagliari this season under Claudio Ranieri, five out of the six home wins this season have come at home. The away form has been the struggle with ten defeats out of fifteen with one win and four draws. The form recently for Cagliari has been good with one defeat in the last five games, the sole defeat was the last game before the international break which was a 1-0 away defeat to Monza.


Two draws against Udinese and Napoli and two wins over Empoli and Salernitana. The win over Empoli was the sole win away from Sardinia this season to date. To kick off the action after the international break Cagliari have back-to-back home games against Hellas Verona and Atalanta.  Hellas Verona as mentioned before are ahead of Cagliari on goal difference and are having to rebuild again after a fire sale of players in the January transfer window, key players of Josh Doig, Isak Hien, Filippo Terracciano, Martin Hongla and Cyril Ngonge departed to Sassuolo, Atalanta, AC Milan, Granada, and Napoli, respectively. 


After guiding Lecce to safety in Serie A in the 2022/23 season, Marco Baroni was given the job at Hellas Verona and was in the top four after the first two games of the season with two wins from two. Wins away at Empoli and a home win over Roma propelled Hellas Verona into the heady heights of the top four. But results started to take a turn for the worse with a fifteen game winless run would follow, and Hellas Verona would skittle down the league table to second bottom before a 2-0 home win over Cagliari would lift them out of the Serie A relegation zone. 


The loss of key players in January saw an upturn in form with two wins, two draws and two defeats in the last six games, the two draws were back-to-back against Monza and at home to Juventus. The two wins were also back-to-back against Sassuolo and Lecce and both were 1-0 wins. The two defeats were either side of the two wins against Bologna away from home and at home to AC Milan. The home form like the other side battling for safety is crucial for Hellas Verona, they have picked up four out of the six wins at home this season and picked up 1.21 points per game at home. 


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Udinese have had by their own standards a very poor season, went the first ten games in Serie A winless which cost Andrea Sottil his job. Gabriele Cioffi came into replace him and picked up their first win of the season on matchday eleven with 1-0 away win in Milan over AC Milan thanks to a goal from Roberto Pereyra. Udinese would only win one more game in the first half of the season in the final matchday of 2023 which was a 3-0 home win over Bologna which caused a massive surprise as Bologna had been the fairy tale story of this season being in the top four fighting for Champion league football. 


In the eleven games played in Serie A in 2024, Udinese have struggled for form and consistency under Gabriele Cioffi, winning just two games but they have come away from home against Juventus and Lazio. Udinese did lose the last game before the international break at home to Torino 2-0. On Easter Monday, Udinese do travel to Sassuolo in a definition of a six pointer, the two games after Sassuolo away is tricky games against Inter Milan and AS Roma. 


The final team is Lecce, and they are in thirteenth position in Serie A with twenty eight points from twenty nine games, they are six points behind Genoa who have been comfortably the best side of the promoted sides from Serie B. Lecce have recently sacked Robert D’Aversa after the home defeat to Hellas Verona after an on pitch incident with Hellas Verona striker Thomas Henry after the final whistle. Former Udinese and Spezia head coach Luca Gotti has come in till the end of the season and won his first game in charge 1-0 away at Salernitana. 



After a very impressive opening five games of the season where Lecce were undefeated and were in the top four. Lazio, Salernitana and Genoa were all defeated. Lecce picked up draws against Monza and Fiorentina. What followed was a fifteen game winless run which ended on matchday sixteen with a 2-1 home win over Frosinone. 


2024 has been a real struggle for Lecce with two wins out of eleven league games played, the dramatic 3-2 home win over Fiorentina in February and a 1-0 away win at Salernitana before the international break. The form in the last six games for Lecce has been rough with just four points picked up. One win, one draw and four defeats. The next two games are tough for Luca Gotti side as they take on AS Roma at home on Easter Monday and travel to Milan to take on AC Milan on April 6th


The race for the Serie A title is wrapped up as Inter Milan are streets ahead of everyone else at the head of the table. The fun and the chaos of it all is at the bottom of the table, one team in Salernitana looked doomed already. Who is sadly going to be joining them in Serie B is the question and we have a lot of football to be played and there will be a lot of twists and turns.


By: Scot Munroe / @scot_Munroe

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Marco Luzzani – Getty Images