Cittadella hosts Benevento in the first leg of Italian Serie B playoffs semifinals. The match will be played on Tuesday, May 21st Stadio Pier Cesare Tombolato (Cittadella)
Strange to say, but Cittadella managed to defeat Spezia in the first round of the playoffs, winning away with a 1:2 score. The strangeness lies in the fact that the Venetians were not the best away team in the current series. Besides, Citta scored only 11 goals in 18 away games. Perhaps the team received the only desired result due to the experience Venturato (the head coach).
Indeed, Roberto came to the team in the summer of 2015, when Cittadella relegated to Serie C. Having become the champion of that division, Venturato led Chitta into the playoffs in the very first season in Serie B. In 2017, the Venetians lost the quarterfinal match to Carpi (1:2). In the second season, Venturato repeated last year's result, finishing in 6th place, and Chitta was the best away team. Partly thanks to the high-speed counterattacks of Kouame, who is trying to save Genoa now. However, the away heroism of Citta did not help it in the playoffs. The home parity (2:2) with Bari allowed the Venetians to reach the semifinals by a draw, which gave an advantage to the finisher with a higher line in the standings. Frosinone had such an advantage in the final confrontation. After the draw at Tombolato (1:1), the return match in Lazio ended with the same score, so Cittadella remained in Serie B again.
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Having got the third attempt, Venturato achieved qualification after an ambiguous season, where Cittadella had ups and downs. However, the club signed the striker Moncini in winter; he was the main star of the second round in Spal. It was thanks to his activity that Chitta won Verona at home (3:0) and managed to avoid defeat to Palermo in the last away match, while losing 2:0 (2:2). 4 finish points allowed the Venetians to take the last place of the promotion group until the sports court's verdict sends Palermo to Serie C. Moving up will allow Citta to play not with Pescara but with Spezia that Chitta lost both regular season games (1:0 away and 0:1 home). In the first leg match, the Venetians lacked Moncini, but red cards and expulsions played against Venturato in both cases.
Chitta also lost to Benevento three times in this season. At home (0: 1) and twice at Vigorito: in the Italian Cup (1:0) and in February (the same 1: 0). In general, signor Bucchi received a very good squad, besides the legacy of De Zerbi. Benevento also moved from 4th to 3rd place due to the disqualification of Palermo. However, Gli Stregoni finished the season in great shape. First of all, thanks to the killer attack, which scored an average of 3 goals per game last month.
If we speak about the away matches, Benevento is the 2nd best away team of Serie B. In the last away games, the Sorcerers beat Perugia (2:4), Verona (0:3) and the champion Brescia (2:3). Obviously, a well-rested and prepared Benevento will rely not only on the treble against the Venetians in the regular season, but also specifically on the best scorer Coda (21+4). Their attacking trio with Insigne (7+6) and winter rookie Armenteros (4+4) is gorgeous. It will be very good for Benevento to gain at least the minimum of a positive result at Tombolato before a home return match by scoring a goal.
Currently, Cittadella plays much better at home than away. At Tombolato, the worst away scoring fixtures are paradoxically transformed into the best ones after those of direct promoters, Brescia and Lecce. The total score of 18 home games of Citta is 38:20. Having taken his lumps in two playoffs, Venturato should take care of the goal advantage before the hardest voyage to the south: last year's parities a la 1:1 would completely suit Benevento. Venturato timely restored forward Finotto, who had already played two matches after an injury, but the coach has another trump card. In the away match with Spezia, he saved the forces of Schenetti - the main character of last year's playoffs.
It is difficult to say, which team is the favorite in the upcoming match. The visitors will have an advantage in the form of a perfect attacking line and independence from the territory. The home arena and manager's experience are for the hosts, but Citta will be tired after the match with Spezia. Being headed by Venturato, the Venetians scored and conceded a lot absolutely in every game of the playoffs in three seasons. Certainly, the upcoming match will be maximally balanced, so I do not believe in the shootout beloved by Benevento. However, I honestly believe in the prolongation of Cittadella’s streak.
Prediction for the match: Both teams to score- yes and Under 4.5 goals scored