There has been plenty of close jostling for league positions in Serie B so far in 2017-18 but the football on display has been anything but cautious or cagey.
Ten points separate first and 22nd place and just five points split second and 19th place after nine rounds in Italy’s second division; in addition to the unpredictability of the league, there has been an emergence in more attack-minded coaches than in previous years.
When discussing attacking football in Italy, Zdenek Zeman is usually one of the first names to be brought into the discussion and the coaching veteran is in his second stint with Pescara. True to Zeman’s style, the Delfini have scored 17 goals but conceded 14 goals.
The 70-year-old has already coached against one of his former players in Giovanni Stroppa, who was a midfielder at Foggia in the mid-1990s and he currently coaches the Satanelli.
Although master destroyed the apprentice with Pescara winning 5-1 in the opening round, Stroppa has rarely moved away from the cavalier 4-3-3 formation despite his side conceding 21 goals so far.
If there is a team that can claim to have an old-fashion Brazilian mindset, it is Serie B leaders Empoli. The Tuscan side have scored more than anyone else by finding the back of the net 20 times but conceding as many as 14, living up to the adage, “It doesn’t matter how many the opposition scores, we’ll score more.”
Coach Vincenzo Vivarini has abandoned the 4-3-1-2 used by previous Azzurri coaches and implemented the 3-4-1-2 formation, similar to what he used at Teramo in the 2014-15 Lega Pro campaign. Alfredo Donnarumma played in that Biancorossi side with current Genoa striker Gianluca Lapadula and he has reunited with Vivarini at Empoli.
Donnarumma is benefitting from Vivarini’s coaching because he has found the back of the net on five occasions and his teammate Francesco Caputo is currently the leading goalscorer in Serie B with eight goals, therefore forming the division’s most lethal pair with an accumulated 13 strikes.
Two points behind Empoli are Palermo, who have hired Bruno Tedino from Lega Pro side Pordenone and the 53-year-old considers himself to be a mix of Arrigo Sacchi and Pep Guardiola in coaching style.
His Rosanero side have scored a paltry 10 goals so far but his Neroverdi squad were in the most prolific in Lega Pro Girone B in 2016-17 by scoring 68 times in 38 matches so perhaps the best is yet to come under Tedino.
Another coach that has made the jump from Lega Pro to Serie B is Ternana tactician Sandro Pochesci, who was at Laziale club Fondi last season.
He told Corriere dello Sport in July that he wanted “a squad that is always in attack with three at the back and seven up front”. Although the Rossoverdi on paper don’t resemble anything like that, they are playing in a swashbuckling manner having found the back of the net on 16 occasions but have allowed in 19 strikes so far.
Cittadella are coached by the Australian-born Roberto Venturato, who got the Venetian side promoted from Lega Pro and then reached the Serie B play-offs with them in 2016-17.
Despite using the 4-3-1-2 formation, Venturato told La Gazzetta dello Sport in September 2016 that he was influenced by the Netherlands teams that the legendary Johan Cryuff played in and the Barcelona sides he coached.
With coaches like this in Serie B, the defensive specialists are becoming a thing of the past, and the Cadetti is one of the lower divisions in world football worth following more than any other.