Italian Serie B’s Hot Summer
20? 19? 22? 24?
No, these are not the right numbers for your favorite lottery’s next draw; these numbers reflect the number of teams taking part in this year’s Serie B as situation is still evolving after more than 9 rounds have been played already! Let me explain this a little bit better, as the situation is still not 100% clear.
So, let’s try to clarify what happened during this past summer in Serie B; and consequently in Lega Pro.
While Serie A was trying to get back to its old fashioned times with Juventus’ acquisition of CR7 (Cristiano Ronaldo), Serie B was starting their mid-summer struggle:
- First, the sad news of glorious clubs like Bari, Avellino and Cesena going bankrupt; they will have to start back from Serie D. This temporary meant a Serie B with 19 participating teams.
- At this point, we saw the quick appeals from Catania, Novara, Siena, Ternana, Pro Vercelli and Entella. Yes, six teams appealed the decision of a 19-team based Serie B and wanted to be admitted to Italy’s second level league!
This meant that from the summer transfer window, the focus moved to the court rooms, with an endless series of decisions and appeals that led to an arm wrestling match between FIGC and Serie B itself.
So, what was the decision?
In the end, after the longest and hottest summer in recent Serie B history, they made a decision. After all sort of problems and a threatened players’ strike, it was decided that Serie B 2018-2019 would have 19 teams. This resulted in one team per week on a bye.
In fact, after an endless summer of discussions, all appeals have been rejected and a decision was finally made. This decision left many disappointed for sure, and it is still subject of discussion today. Officially the Italian Serie B 2018-2019 started on the 24th of August, when the appeals of those 6 teams above were still under evaluation.
What is Happening on the Pitch
After all the troubles, as we said, Serie B started on the 24 of August, but not without controversy.
It was not easy for the 19 Serie B team to set up an effective summer transfer window given the enormous uncertainty coming from court appeals and possible new lucky losers (and consequently more games to play).
Anyway, let’s see what is happening on the pitch.
The Top of the League
On paper, the favorites to be directly promoted in this year’s Serie B are Palermo (big disappointment for them as they could not get promoted to Serie A last year), Hellas Verona, Benevento and Crotone.
Palermo has already had to make adjustments as they changed their coach 3 weeks ago, but, they now seem on the right track.
Right now, after 8/9 games, all of these teams are in the top positions of the league, apart from Crotone, which, anyway, is only 6 points behind.
As usual, we expect a tight fight until the very last game, but we also think that Palermo and Verona seem to have a little margin on the rest of the teams.
A big surprise for now is Pescara. They were looking to have a quiet season, which means avoiding relegation without too much hassle and they are now leading the group. They have 19 points already and a small 1-point lead on Benevento and Verona that immediately follow.
Among playoff contenders we find, as usual, Spezia and Cittadella, as they came from an interesting summer transfer campaign. As usual in Serie B, surprises won’t be late. For example: Lecce and Foggia (Foggia started with an 8-point penalization), with their offensive game, have already scored interesting results and might still be able to aim for a post-season spot.
Brescia and Cremonese should not be underestimated as well. Brescia has already changed coach after just 3 weeks and were able to bounce back. Cremonese (gray and red) only lost away at Benevento.
The Battle to Avoid Relegation
Far more complicated is the fight to avoid relegation. For sure, it will be a battle till the last game to avoid going down to Lega Pro. Keep in mind that the last 3 will go down directly, while the 4th and 5th last teams will play a play-out.
We imagine that Venezia should be free from this complicated battle and should be able to avoid struggling too much. Their roster is good enough to play in Serie B.
Among the newly promoted teams, it is worth to mention Cosenza‘s home record. Padova hasn’t yet been able to get as many points as they deserve given the nice offensive game that they displayed.
Livorno is in real troubles right now, but just got 3 points last week. Could it be the deciding match to finally improve?
Carpi‘s situation looks bad too. Their summer market campaign was not enough to guarantee them a nice roster and it is difficult to imagine them in Serie B next season.
We expect ups and down from both Ascoli and Perugia, but they should be able to avoid relegation fairly easy. Perugia, is very difficult to predict, they can pretty much beat anyone but, having changed 10/11 of the starting lineup, they could also lose to anyone.
A Quick Outright Bets Analysis (after 9 rounds)
Outright Serie B 2018 – 2019 Winner
Non much to say here: Hellas Verona andPalermo are the favorite and deserve to be! As we said, it will be a close call and a long fight to conquer this year’s Serie B crown. These 2 teams are both priced at 4.5, but we think Verona has a slight margin, so that would be our pick right now.
Serie B 2018-2019 – Best of Group
This kind of bet is always tricky. It is purely made up by bookmakers just to broaden up their offer with well balanced markets with reduced value, but… Here is what we like.
- Group 3 winner: Foggia. The odds are juicy, currently priced at 6.50. Their roster is surely comparable to the other teams in their group. Unfortunately for them, they have to recover from a 8-point penalization. Itis difficult to understand how heavy that will be in the long run, but they could be worth the risk.
- Group 2 winner: Cittadella at 5.00. This is a difficult group but Cittadella, thanks to their away record and performances, can be the surprise.
Teams Head to Head
Another difficult betting category, but we like a couple of matchups:
- Pescara versus Lecce: Lecce at 2.75. Pescara started very strong, but pay attention to Lecce’s great offensive game; it could be deciding in the long run (and odds are attractive).
- Brescia versus Cremonese: a very balanced matchup. We think that Cremonese might be able to finish above Cremonese by just a few points.
That’s it for Italy’s Serie B for now, head on to BetzCenter.com for our weekly free picks on Serie B games.