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What goes down, must come up — Meet the three promoted teams in Serie A for 2023-24 season

The Italian Serie B season has finished and we now know the three teams returning to the top flight. From midseason managerial changes to last-second winners, this year had it all, so let's meet the three newest members of Serie A and learn how they got here.

Frosinone Calcio

They say defense wins championships, but Frosinone took it a step further. The club boasted the league’s best offense and defense to claim the Serie B title for the first time by six points. After a challenging but rewarding campaign, difficult days may be in store for I Canarini.

Frosinone has spent two seasons in Italy’s top flight but has never remained for more than the first season. The club will be hoping to avoid relegation and stay in Serie A beyond 2024, but this will be a difficult task for head coach Fabio Grosso. 

Born in Rome, Grosso found fame in 2006 when his left foot proved decisive for the Azzurri on two separate occasions. He scored brilliantly past Jens Lehmann to send his side to the Final in Berlin where he would also take and convert the final spot kick as the Italians won their fourth World Cup.

As a manager, his career has not been as successful, to put it mildly. He’d previously coached two clubs in Serie B but had failed to achieve much with either. He also was appointed head coach of Brescia in Serie A but was fired after less than a month. He fared no better in Switzerland as FC Sion hired the Italian in August 2020 and then promptly fired him in March of the following year as the club sat last in the Swiss Super League. 

His time in Frosinone has been a nice change of pace, however. Last season, Grosso took the club to a 9th-place finish and missed out on the promotion playoffs on goal difference. This season, the club brought in Giuseppe Caso for €1.1 million and signed a host of reinforcements, including Samuelle Mulattieri, on loan. The pair led the team in goals for the season but 12 and nine goals respectively is far from setting the league alight. 

To stay up, Frosinone should realistically invest in another striker. Any position on the field could, or more accurately, should be strengthened, but to stay up, you need to score. Without a striker who can guarantee those goals, Frosinone could be doomed to repeat the failures of its predecessors. 

Genoa C.F.C.

From 2007 to 2022, Genoa was a staple of top-flight Italian soccer. All that changed with one of the worst seasons in club history. They won four games, the fewest of any side in Serie A that year, and were relegated. 

With a squad full of aging mediocrity, the club splashed €7 million and brought in some younger talent. 24-year-old Filippo Melegoni and 18-year-old Alan Matturro bolstered the midfield and defense respectively, but the former was sent out on loan for the season and the latter made just two league appearances. Instead, experienced signing, Massimo Coda added goals in attack. For context, Genoa’s squad would have been the joint-sixth oldest team in Serie A last season. 

Under manager Alexander Blessin, Genoa played well but suffered a poor run of form toward the middle of the season leading to the German’s sacking in December. His replacement was Alberto Gilardino, another member of the Italy squad that won the 2006 World Cup. Since the former Azzurri man took charge, his side has earned the most points in Serie B and conceded the second-fewest goals behind only FC Südtirol. This culminated in Genoa finishing second in the league and bouncing straight back up to the first division. 

Similar to Frosinone, Gilardino’s side scored freely but lacked one main striker. In the league, Albert Gudmundsson scored 11 while Coda bagged 10, but no other player finished the season with more than four goals to their name. Defensively, Genoa was superb. Despite conceding the second-fewest goals all season, their 1.16 expected goals against per game, led the league by a considerable margin. With that in mind, Gilardino should look to offload some of his older players like Kevin Strootman and Stefano Sturaro to make room for younger talent. He should also aim to bring another forward to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris for next season to help Gudmundsson and Coda. If not, Genoa could quickly become Italy’s next yo-yo club. 

Cagliari Calcio

Remember Claudio Ranieri? The Tinkerman who led Leicester City to the Premier League title in 2016? Well, at the age of 71, he’s still producing magic with a club on the Island of Sardinia. 

In December, Cagliari sat 14th in Serie B prompting the club to fire its manager and replace him with Ranieri who guided the club up to fifth in the league as Cagliari earned 35 points, or the joint-third most during that span. This qualified his side for the preliminary round of the promotion playoffs.

Up-first, Cagliari hosted Venezia, dispatching their stylish opponents 2-1 on the back of a Gianluca Lapadula brace. This set up a two-leg tie against Parma with the first leg in Cagliari. The visitors got off to a great start and went up 2-0 early before Ranieri’s side regrouped and completed one of the most incredible comebacks you will see today. 

Three goals in the final 22 minutes sent the stadium into pandemonium and brought Ranieri to tears. The second leg finished 0-0, meaning Cagliari won the tie 3-2 and would face S.S.C. Bari for the final spot in Serie A. 

The two sides drew the first leg 1-1 leaving everything to play for in Bari. With the score still level and just seconds left to play, it appeared that the hosts would advance on away goals. In the pouring rain, Leonardo Pavoletti stepped up and bundled home a cross to essentially end the game and send his side back up to the first division, just a year after being relegated. 

The win means Ranieri, a coaching journeyman, will manage in Serie A once again and at the club where he first made a name for himself as a coach, no less. This once again brought the Italian to tears in a heartwarming display of emotion as his assistants hugged their spectacled genius. 

Looking forward, Cagliari is in an interesting position. The aforementioned Lapadula led not just the club, but the entirety of Serie B, with a staggering 21 goals, and scored a further four goals during the promotion playoffs. The problem is that he’s 33 years old and it would be considered wishful thinking to expect him to continue scoring at that rate next season. Lapadula has played five seasons in the Italian top flight and has only once broken double digits in goals. Aside from him, the next top scorers were Leonardo Pavoletti and Marco Mancosu who are both 34 years old and scored just six and five goals respectively. No other Cagliari player scored more than three. 

The Tinkerman will need to bring in some younger talent across the pitch, but especially up top. His side has been defensively great since the turn of the year, conceding just 11 goals in 19 Serie B games but this aging attack needs to be addressed if Cagliari wants to remain a Serie A club next season. 

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