Spezia vs Hellas Verona Preview
In a survival in Serie A contest, Spezia vs Hellas Verona preview gives a relegation playoff details at Sassuolo’s Mapei Stadium on Sunday.
After the teams finished level on points after 38 matches of a gruelling season, they must not fight it out to decide who will retain their top flight status and who will drop into serie B.
Following a rule change last year – when Serie A’s ruling body decided head-to-head record or goal difference was not sufficient to separate sides that finished level on points and were contesting either the title or survival – a winner-takes-all encounter will determine whether Spezia or Verona stay up.
The clash between these clubs in Sassuolo will be 13th time a relegation playoff has been played in Italy’s top flight, with the most recent coming at the conclusion of the 2004- 05 campaign, when a two-legged meeting between Emilian rivals Parma and Bologna saw the Latter demoted to Serie B. On the match between Napoli and salernitana concluded with a tie 1-1 which delayed the title victory of Napoli but eventually had victory over time.
The last time two teams faced each other in a one-off finale was back in 1997, but now the fate of both clubs will be decided in a single match played at a neutral venue the Mapei Stadium, in Reggio Emilia.
Having arrived in Serie A for the first time in 2020 and then defied the drop under both Vincenzo Italiano and Thiago Motta, Spezia stumbled into serious danger this spring, as Leonardo Semplici‘s side lost 11 of their last 20 fixtures, winning just twice.
While one of those victories came at home to a much-changed Milan, the Aquilotti then took one point from their final three games and finished tied on 31 points with Verona, and only Serie B-bound pair Cremonese and Sampdoria sat below them both in the table.
Like Hellas, Spezia lost their final match, but it was a cruel twist in stoppage time that denied Semplici’s men the point they needed to secure sole possession of 17th place. After the unlikely figure of Dimitris Nikolaou had put them in front against Roma at Stadio Olimpico, a late Paulo Dybala penalty consigned the Ligurian club to a 2-1 defeat.
That took their total of goals conceded to 62: the lowest number across their three top-flight seasons to date – and by a margin of nine. However, short of firepower up front and too reliant on top scorer M’bala Nzola, Spezia now find themselves 90 minutes away from the Serie A trapdoor.
Team News and Injury
After Kelvin Amian received a late red card and captain Emmanuel Gyasi picked up a booking last week in Rome, Spezia will have to make at least two changes to their starting lineup on Sunday night.
Both must now serve potentially costly suspensions, so Salva Ferrer could make a rare start to cover for Amian’s absence on the right flank; either Eldor Shomurodov or Daniele Verde is now likely to partner M’Bala Nzola up front.
Once again, Emil Holm, Joao Moutinho, Mattia Caldara and Jacopo Sala are among Leonardo Semplici’s injury absentees.
Verona, meanwhile, will be without Ondrej Duda and Thomas Henry, but a host of other players – including centre-back Pawel Dawidowicz – have recently returned to training.
Marco Zaffaroni must again decide between Milan Djuric and Adolfo Gaich to lead the line in attack, though the pair registered just three league goals between them this season.
Simone Verdi – who scored when these teams met in La Spezia last autumn – Kevin Lasagna and Belgian forward Cyril Ngonge are all contenders to feature in support of the Gialloblu’s lone frontman.
Spezia Vs Hellas Verona prediction
Only Once has a Serie A relegation playoff been decided by a penalty shootout, in 1995, Genoa were demoted on spot kicks and in the event of a tie at the end of 90 minutes this Sunday. The game would go straight to penaltied without extra time.