European Lower League Week In Football – Week One
Serie B finally got under way last weekend amid the usual controversy, with Lecce who were relegated from Serie A last season demoted again to the Lega Pro Prima Divisione at the eleventh hour due to their involvement in the Scommessopoli scandal (An Italian football betting scandal in which a large number of players & teams stand accused of being involved in match fixing) & Vicenza, who were relegated after losing in a play-off to Empoli were re-instated to Serie B.
On the field, the season opened with a derby on Friday night when Hellas Verona made the short trip to Modena, Hellas led through Bacinovic but the hosts grabbed a draw through Signori. Sassuolo aim to prove last season’s play-off finish was no fluke & they have set out their stall early with a fine 3-0 win at relegated Cesena. Gianluca Sansone may have left for Torino but Sassuolo hope in Leonardo Pavoletti they have a striker who can find the target on a regular basis. Pavoletti spent last season on loan helping Virtus Lanciano gain promotion to Serie B, grabbing 16 goals in the process, and it took him just 29 minutes of the new season before he found the back of the Cesena net.
Three of the four teams promoted from Lega Pro picked up points on the opening day, Virtus Lanciano had a respectable 1-1 draw at Padova whilst Pro Vercelli picked up three points with a 1-0 win over fellow promoted team Ternana and Spezia who have enjoyed a fine pre-season and have brought in some quality signings beat the reprieved Vicenza 2-1 thanks to a double from Marco Sansovini who hit 16 goals last term in the promotion winning Pescara side. Crotone got off to a winning start but left it late with Raffaele Maiello scoring the only goal of the game against Brescia in the fifth minute of injury time.
Bari enjoyed a winning start with a 2-1 win over Cittadella in front of a sparse crowd at the San Nicola & last season’s play-off finalists Varese put three points on the board with a 2-0 win over 10 man Ascoli. The other winners were Livorno who had a fine 3-1 success at Juve Stabia. The hosts who knocked Sampdoria out of the Coppa Italia the previous week had Zito sent off as Salviato, Siligardi & Dionisi hit the target for Livorno. Novara, back in Serie B after one season in the top flight, had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Grosseto with much sought after striker Ferdinando Sforzini on target for the hosts.
Claudio Ranieri’s Monaco picked up their fourth win in the opening five games as they crushed fellow unbeaten side Arles at the Stade Louis II, striker Ibrahima Toure notching a double & taking his tally to six in five games in front of Monaco’s highest crowd of the season so far, just over 6000. A much healthier crowd of 18085 watched as Nantes beat local rivals Le Mans 2-0 to go second on Monday night, Serbian striker Filipe Djordjevic with both goals for unbeaten Nantes who claim their third straight win.
Dijon are third & still unbeaten although they will be disappointed to have lost a two goal lead at home to Le Havre at the weekend while fellow relegated side Caen sit fourth after winning 2-0 in Nimes. The third team relegated from Ligue 1 were Auxerre who won 2-1 at home over Laval thanks to an Anthony Le Tallec brace & are currently in sixth place.
Down at the bottom, Tours are still looking for their first win. They were beaten 3-0 at fifth placed Chateauroux and have lost four out of their five fixtures. Tours also bowed out of the Coupe de la Ligue at National side Metz & to compound a miserable week, star player Diego Rigonato completed a move to Ligue 1 side Reims although Tours have quadrupled the 300k€ they paid Hungarian side Honved for his services. GFCO Ajaccio are also looking for their first victory since promotion from the National, they played 60 minutes of the home game with Lens with 10 men and held on for a respectable point.
After starting the season with two wins Angers have now lost three on the spin, the latest defeat a 1-0 reverse at home to Istres while Clermont, who spent most of last season in the top three find themselves in the bottom three replacing Sedan who won 2-0 at the Stade Gabriel Montpied.
Duisburg are pointless after three games in the 2.Bundesliga & are now on the lookout for a new Coach after Oliver Reck was shown the door (latest reports suggest Darmstadt Coach Kosta Runjaic has been approached). At the other end of the table, only Eintracht Braunschweig can boast a 100% record after week three after they beat fellow unbeaten side Paderborn to secure a third win of the season. Energie Cottbus & FSV Frankfurt follow on seven points after both enjoyed impressive wins at the weekend. Cottbus beat a lacklustre St Pauli side 2-0 whilst FSV Frankfurt won by the same scoreline in Ingolstadt. Aalen & Sandhausen follow close behind, both teams won promotion from 3.Liga last season and both have made good starts. Aalen in particular have been impressive to watch as they won 1-0 in Bochum whilst Sandhausen put Union Berlin to the sword 2-0.
Hertha Berlin picked up their first win of the season in a 2-1 home success over Jahn Regensburg but it has been a disappointing start for Hertha with defeats to FSV Frankfurt & lower league Wormatia Worms in the DFB Pokal. FC Koln have also endured a torrid start & find themselves second bottom & still looking for their first win of the season following a 2-0 reverse at Aue on Monday. Kaiserslautern & 1860 Munich met in what was billed as the game of the weekend but ended in a dour 0-0 draw.
Helmond Sport & MVV Maastricht boast 100% records in the Eerste Divisie after three rounds of fixtures. Helmond went top of the table on Friday courtesy of a 5-2 win at De Graafschap, who were also unbeaten going into the game. Emrullah Guvenc hit a hat trick for the visitors taking his season’s tally so far to five. MVV won 2-0 in Veendam to claim their third straight win & stay two points ahead of Go Ahead Eagles & Sparta Rotterdam. Sparta ended their winning start to the season when Joey Godee, who was released by the Rotterdam based club in the summer, came back to haunt his former employers with the AGOVV Apeldoorn goal in a 1-1 draw.
Go Ahead Eagles won 4-1 in Oss making it eight goals in three games in the process. Volendam lost their opening game but have bounced back with two wins on the trot giving them six points alongside Cambuur & Telstar who beat Excelsior 1-0 thanks to a penalty from Republic of Ireland under-21 man Rhys Murphy.
Almere City & Den Bosch have yet to register a point & both sides suffered home defeats at the weekend, Almere went down 3-1 to Volendam while Den Bosch (who reached the play-off final last season) were beaten 4-2 at home to Dordrecht on Monday night. Fortuna Sittard beat Emmen 3-1 to record their first win of the season as did FC Eindhoven who beat a Cambuur side who had won their opening two games.
Just two weeks into the Liga Adelante season & only Elche & Almeria have maximum points, Elche won 2-1 at local rivals Hercules Alicante in front of over 2000 of their supporters & Almeria followed up an incredible 5-4 win at Barcelona B by beating Xerez 2-1, both goals coming from summer signing Charles. Villarreal were held to a 0-0 draw at Sabadell but they have strengthened their forward line further with the announcement that Walter Pandiani has joined the club this week and will partner other recent signing Fernando Cavenaghi in a fearsome strike force at this level.
The other two teams relegated from La Liga have not enjoyed the best of starts, both Racing Santander & Sporting Gijon have lost their opening two games. Gijon lost at home to a Murcia side who played the last 57 minutes with 10 men & Racing were beaten 2-0 at Cordoba. Girona had the result of the weekend with a 5-1 success at Guadalajara, Juanlu Hens scoring twice in the second half equalling last season’s goal tally in a 40 minute spell.
The first Mini El Classico took place with Real Madrid Castilla claiming bragging rights following a 3-2 win over their Catalan rivals. Barcelona B have now conceded eight goals in two games & have yet to register a point alongside Racing Santander, Hercules & Sporting Gijon also newly promoted & last season’s cup heroes Mirandes have lost their opening two games & have yet to hit the target.
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