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Serie B | 1st Leg
May 30, 2024 at 7.30pm UK
Stadio Giovanni Zini

0 - 0

Preview: Cremonese vs. Venezia - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Serie B playoff final between Cremonese and Venezia, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Vying for a place in Italy's top flight next season, Cremonese and Venezia meet for the first leg of the Serie B playoff final on Thursday.

After both sides eased through their semi-final ties, a crucial clash at Stadio Giovanni Zini awaits, with the decisive second leg taking place in Venice on Sunday evening.

Match preview

Crotone manager Giovanni Stroppa pictured in January 2021© Reuters

Having finished third and fourth during the regular season - respectively 10 and seven points clear of fifth place - Venezia and Cremonese now convene in a two-legged contest to decide who will join automatically-promoted pair Parma and Como in Serie A next term.

Cremo ultimately cruised past Catanzaro with a 4-1 home win in Saturday's semi-final second leg, following a 2-2 draw four days earlier: Franco Vazquez opened the scoring at Stadio Zini, before Cristian Buonaiuto soon volleyed home another and Massimo Coda made it three before the break.

Leonardo Sernicola added one more during the second half, ensuring that the Grigiorossi would progress serenely to the final and also extend their unbeaten streak to five games, featuring three wins and two draws.

One year after suffering relegation from the top tier, Cremonese aim to make an immediate return, and they must take the initiative on Thursday evening, before hitting the road for Sunday's second leg - the Lombardy club won half of their home fixtures this season, conceding only 16 goals in the process.

Experienced coach Giovanni Stroppa has previously led Crotone and Monza to promotion from Serie B so is well versed in handling the pressure of such occasions, and his side beat Venezia 1-0 despite going down to 10 men when the clubs last met in Cremona.

While they lost out in December, Venezia were 2-1 winners in last month's reverse fixture at Stadio Pier Luigi Penzo, coming back from behind to take maximum points.

In spite of that victory over a major promotion rival, the Arancioneroverdi ultimately had to settle for a place in the playoffs, and they overcame Palermo in last week's semi-finals.

After returning from the first leg in Sicily with a one-goal advantage, Venezia wrapped things up back on home turf, as Tanner Tessmann settled nerves by finding the top corner early on, and Antonio Candela effectively finished the tie from close range shortly before half time.

The Lagunari - who were relegated after one Serie A season in 2022 - have now prevailed in six of their last eight matches and are certainly the in-form side heading into a high-stakes season finale.

Head coach Paolo Vanoli - formerly Antonio Conte's assistant with Italy and Inter Milan - has been linked with filling an upcoming vacancy at Torino, but before considering any offers he will be intent on completing his good work in Venice.

Cremonese Serie B form:

Venezia Serie B form:

Team News

As midfielder Michele Collocolo returned as a substitute last weekend, only ex-Roma striker Felix Afena-Gyan and goalkeeper Mouhamadou Sarr will miss the first leg for Cremonese due to injury.

Cremo coach Giovanni Stroppa therefore has to resolve a selection dilemma up front, with several candidates to choose from across the final third.

Massimo Coda scored 17 goals in Serie B this season, but Frank Tsadjout or even 38-year-old Daniel Ciofani could lead the hosts' attack, with Franco Vazquez supporting the main frontman from behind; former Venezia winger Dennis Johnsen is another option.

Meanwhile, the visitors welcomed Giorgio Altare and Mikael Egill Ellertsson back from suspension for the second leg of their semi-final win over Palermo, but both are set to be consigned to the bench on Thursday.

Antonio Candela and Francesco Zampano are likely to line up on either wing of a 3-5-2 formation, with USA international Tanner Tessmann pulling the strings in midfield.

Up front, Nicholas Pierini should start alongside Serie B top scorer Joel Pohjanpalo, with Danish striker Christian Gytkjaer available as an impact substitute later in the game.

Cremonese possible starting lineup:
Saro; Antov, Ravanelli, Bianchetti; Zanimacchia, Buonaiuto, Castagnetti, Pickel, Sernicola; Vazquez; Coda

Venezia possible starting lineup:
Joronen; Idzes, Svoboda, Sverko; Candela, Lella, Tessmann, Busio, Zampano; Pierini, Pohjanpalo

SM words green background

We say: Cremonese 1-2 Venezia

Firing on all cylinders at a critical part of the season, Venezia can head back to the Penzo with a lead to protect: both teams boast several threats in attack, but the Lagunari are playing some of their best stuff when it really matters.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Group A

Q Germany Germany22006
2 Switzerland Switzerland21104
3 Scotland flag Scotland20111
4 Hungary Hungary20020

Group B

Q Spain Spain22006
2 Italy Italy21013
3 Albania national flag Albania20111
4 Croatia Croatia20111

Group C

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3 Slovenia Slovenia20202
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Group D

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3 Austria Austria21013
4 Poland Poland20020

Group E

1 Romania Romania21013
2 Belgium Belgium21013
3 Slovakia Slovakia21013
4 Ukraine Ukraine21013

Group F

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2 Turkey Turkey21013
3 Czech Republic Czech Republic20111
4 Georgia Georgia20111

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