Can newly-promoted Empoli produce a splash in Serie A?
2018-19 season begins in Italy this weekend
The new Serie A season begins on Saturday, as Chievo host Verona. But for fans of Empoli, the real action begins with Sunday’s home clash against Cagliari.
After relegation from the top-flight in 2016-17, Empoli won an immediate promotion back last season. And what’s more, they topped the Serie B table by a mammoth 13 points.
Ahead of the opening weekend, the Coral News Team take a closer look at Aurelio Andreazzoli’s side, and whether they can be this season’s surprise package…
Head coach Andreazzoli does know Serie A well – but most of his experience has been as a number two.
The 64-year-old spent two years as an assistant at Udinese, before more than a decade in the same role at AS Roma.
But aside from one fairly successful caretaker stint at the Stadio Olimpico – winning nine of his 17 games in charge – Andreazzoli has never been the main man at this level.
He’s done well since taking the Empoli job in December of last year. But there’s likely to be doubt cast over a boss whose only previous top-job experience came over a decade ago, in the lower leagues. He’ll have to adapt – and fast.
The summer window
There have been a handful of ins and outs at Stadio Carlo Castellani this summer. And the main theme seems to be that Empoli are building for the future.
Their biggest expenditure has been the £8.1m spent on 22-year-old Palermo striker Antonino La Gumina. The rapid forward hit double figures in Serie B last term, and looks to have all the attributes to be competitive in the top-flight.
21-year-old Samuel Mraz also adds strength up front, after a prolific campaign in 2017-18. He netted 21 times in 41 games in Slovakia’s top flight.
Elsewhere, defender Jacob Rasmussen arrives from Rosenborg, and hard-working midfielder Lorenzo Lollo makes his loan move from Carpi permanent.
However, last season’s exploits have seen star midfielder Riccardo Saponara snapped up by Fiorentina – and he’s yet to be properly replaced.
Empoli kick off the action at home to Cagliari, in a fixture which tends to produce goals.
Three of the last six meetings have produced four or more goals, including a 3-2 home win for Cagliari in the last head-to-head.
Empoli were imperious at the Castellani last term, and the Azzurri are 23/20 for an opening day victory in front of their fans.
Meanwhile, Coral’s odds make it 18/5 for Empoli to Win and Both Teams to Score.
It’s also 5/6 for a simple BTTS, and a more sizeable 11/4 for Over 3.5 Goals in the game.
Click here for Coral’s latest Serie A odds.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing