After a couple of close calls in the past few weeks, SPAL have decided to pull the plug on Leonardo Semplici and bring in a new coach in Luigi Di Biagio, who inked a five-month contract. The management was reluctant to let go the coach that brought them from Serie C to Serie A and avoided relegation for two years in a row, but were left with no choice considering their dire situation in the standings. They are in last position seven points behind the 17th-placed Genoa. They have collected just four wins so far, against Lazio, Parma, Torino and Atalanta and have lost in five of the last six fixtures.
They were known of their grit and defensive solidity in the past, but they have given up 40 goals so far: only two three teams have done worse. It has never been their forte, but they are dead last for goals scored, just 17, with Andrea Petagna being the only passable contributor there, but he too has not been as prolific as the previous campaign. They clearly took a big hit with the summer departure of Manuel Lazzari, while Jasmin Kurtic forced his way out in January, dealing them another blow.
Semplici is shown the door, at least for now, after a five-and-a-half seasons, conducted through three different leagues. He collected 78 wins, 51 ties and 68 losses during his time in Ferrara, which will obviously be remembered for the double promotion and for an incredible 13th-placed finish in the 2018/2019 season.
Di Biagio gets his first chance to sit on a club’s bench after six years at the helm of Italy’s U-21 team. His results have been subpar with the Azzurrini, who never got to the European Championship finals in his tenure, they reached the semi-finals once and were knocked out in the first stage twice, including the 2019 edition, which Italy hosted and had big hopes for, considering that the roster included the likes of Nicolò Zaniolo, Federico Chiesa, Moise Kean, Alex Meret, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Nicolò Barella, Sandro Tonali, Riccardo Orsolini, Alessandro Bastoni, Gianluca Mancini, Patrick Cutrone and Rolando Mandragora.
Di Biagio mostly used 4-3-1-2 and 4-3-3 with the youth national team: even if it was built for 3-5-2, their current roster might be able to switch to those tactics considering the versatility of Federico Di Francesco, Gabriel Stefezza and Mattia Valoti and of newcomer Lucas Castro. They could be short on fullbacks though. It is hard to do worse offensively, so their top fantasy contributors could get a little boost.
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