After comfortably winning Serie B in 2019/20, expectations were high in 2020/21 for Benevento. Gli Stregoni had struggled badly during their last season in the top flight, finishing bottom in the 2017/18 season.
Flippo Inzaghi’s side were expected to fare much better and whilst they did perform better this time around, the end result was the same and perhaps even more heartbreaking.
Player of the Season: Gianluca Caprari
On loan from Sampdoria, Caprari contributed five goals and six assists in the 30 games he was involved in.
Unfortunately, this was not enough to save Benevento from relegation but Caprari will be hoping that his form results in another crack at Serie A next season. With Samp under new management, he may have a chance to reestablish himself at his parent club.
Best Signing – Gianluca Lapadula
Signed for a reported €4 million from Genoa. Lapadula was the team’s top scorer with eight goals, whilst also chipping in with five assists. A useful return for any side in the bottom half of the table.
Coach: Flippo Inzaghi
Arguably the most lethal Italian striker of his era, Pippo Inzaghi’s managerial career is now at a crossroads. Despite his success at Serie B level with Venezia and Benevento, he had found it difficult in the top flight in underwhelming spells with AC Milan and Bologna. This season his Stregoni side fared well in the first half of the season. Six wins saw Benevento sit 11th at the midway point. The second half of the season was challenging for Inzaghi and his side, with a solitary win and eight draws not enough for survival.
Inzaghi has confirmed he will now leave Benevento, firing a parting shot at a post-season press conference stating: “We were all together when we won, but I felt alone when we started losing. They even made an official statement where I was accused of not having watched the final five minutes of the game against Crotone. I can’t accept lies, it’s essential to grow also after a defeat.”
Now, he looks likely to take over at Brescia and attempt to lead another Serie B promotion push.
Memorable Moment: Juventus 0–1 Benevento
Incredibly, this was Benevento’s lone win during the ritorno part of the season, and what a win it was. A real backs-against-the-wall performance in which goalkeeper Lorenzo Montipo pulled off some fine saves to keep Cristiano Ronaldo and co at bay.
The Witches’ goal came from their only shot on target, as Adolfo Gaich pounced on Arthur Melo’s awful pass before coolly beating Wojciech Szczesny. Inzaghi’s squad clung on to give the former Juve striker a famous win.
Despite their eventual relegation, beating Italy’s most successful team for the first time in their history will live long in the memory of Benevento fans.
The Bad: The Fall-off
The entire second half of the season was bad for The Witches. Their eventual relegation during the penultimate weekend of the season culminated in tensions between the team, the club president and the Benevento ultras. After Gli Stregoni were to the drop, rumours circulated that Benevento would send a youth team to play the meaningless final game of the season at Torino.
The Curva Sud ultras group responded with a pointed statement and suggestion: “We do not agree. The team travelled all season in comfortable charter flights. We hope this time they can go in a modest team bus.”
President Oreste Vigorito agreed, meaning Inzaghi and his squad were forced to take an unpleasant 12-hour bus journey the length of Italy for the final game.
All told, an unsavory end to a Benevento season that started with so much hope and promise.