With Fiorentina playing this season in the
Champions League and Siena holding their own in the Serie A, it is easy to
overlook many of the professional clubs playing throughout Tuscany. It is a
sign that there is some remarkable premier football being played in the region.
With four teams in the Serie B, Italy’s second football division, Tuscany is
the second-best represented region, following neighbouring Emilia-Romagna. Not
only strong in presence, all four Tuscan clubs realistically have a chance to
win promotion to Italy’s Serie A this season.
Empoli, demoted from the Serie A last season, is currently tied for
first place, and is the heavy favorite for promotion. Based in a small Tuscan
city, the club is known for being fierce competitors and for producing
promising young players. This season, led by an under-21 talent, Francesco
Lodi, Empoli made a bright start to the campaign, and as anticipated, is
definitely one of the teams to watch.
Level on points with Empoli, underdog Grosseto has made an impressive
start to its campaign. Not known for being a strong footballing town, Grosseto
won a historic promotion to the Serie B two years ago, and has continued to
defy the odds with its early season form. Never before playing higher than the
Serie B, Grosseto confirmed its ambition early in the season with a 1-0 victory
over title favorite Parma. With a string of positive results thus far,
Grossetto is turning a Serie B dream into an impressive reality.
Also demoted to Serie B a season ago, Livorno has likewise made a strong
start this season. Currently in sixth place in the Serie B table, the club is
led by former Italy call-up, Francesco Tavano. With a host of players on loan
from Serie A clubs, Livorno is also expected to make the jump back to the top
Hardly 30 kilometers down the road, Livorno’s neighbour and arch nemesis
Pisa has made a less stellar start to the season than their Tuscan cousins.
After narrowly missing out on promotion to the Serie A last season, due to a
heartbreaking loss to Lecce, Pisa is suffering a bit of a hangover of late,
languishing in the lower half of the table. Despite the slow start, however,
Tuscany’s smallest outfit sits only five points behind rival Livorno.
With all four Tuscan clubs more than holding their own in the Serie B,
it may not be long before the region makes its mark at the top level.