Crotone come into the Serie A season as the only debutants having achieved promotion through finishing second in Serie B. The minnows missed out on the second tier title by a sole point and only tasted defeat on six occasions with thanks to a solid defence that let in a league best 36 goals.
Nothing to lose
As seen with Carpi and Frosinone last year, Crotone have nothing to lose and can only go into every game with the desire to win in the hope of securing a second year amongst the Italian elite. A high number of defeats and few wins are expected but Crotone must take every game as it comes.
The Rossoblu couldn’t have asked for a much kinder start to the season with them facing three of their potential relegation fighters in Bologna, Empoli and Palermo in the opening month of the season. A fixture away to Genoa completes the quartet of fixtures in what will be almost a certain Genoa win. They then travel to last season’s bronze medallists Roma, which will provide them their first real test against a top top side. They close out their opening six by welcoming Atalanta to the Stadio Ezio Scida. A win at minimum is possible in the opening six and as the age old saying goes, “start as you mean to go on.”
The six closing fixtures aren’t so kind but the fixture with fellow promoted side Pescara on match day 34 stands out with it having the potential to be decisive in who stays up. Other fixtures include away trips to Sampdoria and reigning champions Juventus while Milan, Udinese and Lazio all come to Crotone, with the latter being the final fixture of the season.
In terms of derbies, the superbly nicknamed Pythagorici (Pythagoreans) have none to look forward too.
Ins: Ante Budimir ( FC St. Pauli – £850k), Federico Ceccherini ( Livorno – £765k ), Simy ( Portimonense - £723k ), Leonardo Capezzi ( Fiorentina – £680k ), Nicola Fazzi ( Fiorentina – £43k ), Marcus Rohden ( IF Elfsborg – £425k ), Eddy Gnahore ( Napoli – Loan ), Aleksandar Tonev ( free transfer ), Mario Sampirisi ( free transfer ), Andrea Nalini ( free transfer ), Andrea Mazzarini ( free transfer ), Djamel Mesbah ( free transfer).
The addition of Simy will provide goals and give them a huge threat at corners and set pieces with him being Serie A’s tallest player at 6ft 7. Bulgarian Aleksandar Tonev has top flight experience in his bag also having played most recently for Frosinone.
Outs*: Ante Budimir ( Sampdoria - £1.5m ), Davide Leto ( free transfer ), Tomislav Saric ( free transfer ), Davide Voltan ( Geona – undisclosed ), Francesco Modesto ( released ), Juan Delgado ( released ), Matteo Paro ( released ), Luca Maniero ( released ).
*plus 3 loans and 7 expired loans.
No sooner was Ante Budimir signed permanently by Crotone and then Sampdoria swooped in and took him to Genoa for a very handsome fee for a club the size of Crotone. The Croat was the sides top goal scorer last term netting 16 and will be a sore loss for the side who will be after any goal they can get this coming season.
A squad with little expectation to succeed
As with many small sides who land themselves in Serie A, Crotone’s squad is largely made up of domestic players many of whom were released from bigger clubs earlier in their career or are past their best years.
In goals, number one Alex Cordaz has spent the majority of his playing career in the lower leagues in Italy having been released by Inter as a youngster, now 33, Cordaz is one of the most experienced in the side.
Defensively, Crotone are lacking centrally and experience. Even though they had the best defensive record last term, it definitely won’t be the case this year. Club captain Claiton is no stranger to Serie A but the remaining defenders are all largely used to Serie B standard if not lower.
Midfield is without a doubt where they are best covered and on the face of it, it appears as if they’re prepared to load the midfield with no less than 14 midfielders currently on the books.
Crotone lost every striker that was with them last year and haven’t done at all well in acquiring a host of new ones. Only Simy is a recognised striker in the squad and at this rate an injury to him would be catastrophic for their season.
Crotone aren’t best prepared for their maiden season whatsoever and if multiple signings aren’t made soon big problems are over the horizon.
Raffaele Palladino could be one of the key figures this upcoming season for the newcomers. One of few veterans in the squad, Palladino has plenty experience playing in this division having last played in it with Parma. He has also kitted up for Genoa and Juventus too in Serie A. An experienced head like Palladino’s will be vital in keeping morale up in what could – and is likely going to be – a long long season for the squali. The winger will be one of those heavily relied on to score goals next year and is likely going to be vital in summer arrival Simy’s success.
New man at the helm
After securing promotion for the club at the first time of asking Ivan Juric moved on to Genoa over the summer and Davide Nicola has come in in his place. Nicola, has experience in the top flight with Livorno but the club hierarchy certainly won’t be wanting a repeat of that experience with Livorno being relegated that season and Nicola being sacked in January. The 43-year-old tends to deploy his sides in a 4-3-3 formation with an attacking play-style which will likely see Crotone’s near title winning 3-4-3 changed.
Will they meet expectations?
The expectations are going to be low and finishing outside the relegation zone seems to tricky a task for an inexperienced side in the top flight. A Leicester-like fairy tale is unlikely but Crotone can use the fact that many of the clubs barring a few have played them to their advantage and could produce a few shock results over the course of the season and perhaps leave a lasting impression with them.