Empoli sack Andreazzoli and hire Iachini


After the 5-1 loss to Napoli on Friday, Empoli have decided to fire Aurelio Andreazzoli and to bring in Giuseppe Iachini, who reportedly agreed to a two-year contract. Andreazzoli was appointed last season on December 2017 and led the team to the promotion by remaining undefeated through the rest of the year, winning 16 games and tying seven times, dominating Serie B.

However, despite being praised for their free-flowing style, the Azzurri have struggled so far in Serie A and have collected just one win, in the opener against Cagliari, have been defeated seven times and have shared the spoils with Chievo, Milan and Frosinone. They currently sit in 18th position, three points behind Udinese and Bologna, seven above the last-placed Flying Donkeys and on a par with the Ciociari.

The impact of their center-pieces Francesco Caputo, Miha Zajc and Rade Krunic has generally carried over to the top league, even though obviously lowered by the tougher competition. However, they have been held back by a weak defense since they have kept just three clean sheets and conceded a total of 20 goals. They have not been explosive enough to make up for it and they have scored 10 times, which is in line with the other relegation strugglers.

The hard-nosed Iachini is coming off a decent stint with Sassuolo, where he finished in 11th position thanks to a late surge, after taking over at the end of November, replacing Cristian Bucchi. He tallied eight wins, eight draws and eight losses. He previously coached at Udinese, Palermo, Siena, Sampdoria, Brescia and Chievo.

Iachini is certainly a more conservative and traditional choice for a low-table team, which rarely succeed with offensive-minded managers. The Tuscanians so far have been using either 4-3-2-1 or 4-3-1-2, while Iachini generally prefers a three-man defense. They could pull it off considering that they have few attacking fullbacks like Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Luca Antonelli and Manuel Pasqual that would have no trouble playing in a more advanced position and not much would change for the midfield. Zajc could easily feature as second-striker and, as a matter of fact, Matteo Politano, generally used as winger, thrived last season in that position. Their big-ticket summer acquisition Antonino La Gumina has had a rough start.

However, they have only young options behind the veterans Domenico Maietta and Matias Silvestre in the back, so the coach will have to trust one between Frederic Veseli, Jacob Rasmussen and Michal Marcjanik to install a more numerous back-line. It is possible that the new coach will try to work on the overall balance and on the attitude before putting his hands on the scheme. They have three home games coming up in the next four fixtures: they will host Udinese, Atalanta and Bologna and travel to Ferrara to face SPAL, so this is a critical juncture for their season.

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