Juventus
    29.10.2013 17:46 - in: Serie A S

    Catania in the spotlight

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    Juventus.com takes an in-depth look at the Bianconeri’s latest Serie A opponents: Catania

    Club

    Calcio Catania, as the club is now officially titled, was originally founded by Italian film director Gaetano Ventimiglia as A.S. Educazione Fisica Pro Patria in 1908.

    The team would play against sailors arriving in the port in those early days, and their first ever game was a 1-1 draw against Italian battleship Regina Margherita.

    Two years later the club became U.S. Catanese, but while football in the north now involved structured championships, southern teams like Sicilian outfit Catanese instead played in various different knock-out cups.

    A number of other name-changes followed until Catanese and Virtus Catania merged in 1946 to form the club as it is today, at which point they were entered into Serie C and gained promotion to Serie B soon afterwards in 1949.

    Then began what is now known by fans as the golden years, a period in which the side won promotion to Serie A in 1954 and again in 1960 to begin a six-year stay in the top flight.

    In the 1960/61 season the team finished above top clubs including Lazio and Napoli in eighth place (a position that they have equalled but not managed to better since), beating Milan and Inter in the process.

    But a gradual decline followed relegation in 1966, and they slipped further down the ladder as they entered Serie C in 1974.

    The low point of the club’s plight came in 1993, when financial troubles meant that they momentarily ceased to exist before a judicial battle eventually saw the FIGC’s decision revoked.

    Businessman Antonino Pulvirenti (who remains president to this day) bought the club in 2004 and sparked a revival that resulted in Catania’s return to Serie A in 2006, their first appearance in the top flight in 22 years.

    Catania reached the Coppa Italia semi finals in the 2007/08 campaign, a season which also witnessed another landmark achievement: the Rossazzurri’s first win in a Serie A Derby di Sicilia. The famous fixture pits Catania against the other largest city on the island, Palermo, and the Rossazzurri currently have the upper hand in the previous Serie A encounters with six wins to Palermo’s five.

    In the 2011/12 campaign, current Fiorentina manager Vincenzo Montella led a talented side to breaking a number of club records, including goals scored and points picked up from away matches in the top flight.

    Catania improved even further last year under Rolando Maran, who took them to an eighth placed finish that equalled the best in their history.   

    Stadium

    The ground Catania call home is the Stadio Angelo Massimino, also known as the Stadio Cibali.

    The 23, 016-seater arena gained its current name in 2002 in honour of a former club president, and it provided the springboard for the team’s great success last season: Maran’s men produced 12 victories there during the 2012/13 campaign, a club record.

    The famous phrase, “clamoroso al Cibali” - now widely used in Italian football to describe a shock upset - was born at the ground in 1961 when it was exclaimed by radio commentator Sandro Ciotti in reaction to Catania’s surprise victory against Inter.

    The Angelo Massimino has also hosted the Italian national side twice – a 3-0 win against Slovakia in 1998 and a 1-0 against the United States in 2002 in which Alessandro Del Piero scored the winner – as well as other events as diverse as the closing ceremony for the 1997 University Olympic Games and the 2003 World Military Games.

    It also used to be the home of the Jolly Componibili Catania, the women’s football team that won the Scudetto in 1978.

    Transfer Activity

    Catania have brought in promising talent with little net spend over the summer, but whether the acquisitions will be enough to compensate for some potentially significant departures and maintain the club’s trend of improving their league finish year on year remains to be seen.

    Three important members of last season’s record-breaking side have moved on to pastures new: Francesco Lodi and Giovanni Marchese have departed for Genoa, while Alejandro Gomez chose to embark on a fresh challenge with Metalist Kharkiv.  

    However, the new faces certainly have the potential to emulate the important contributions of those who have departed. Amongst the arrivals are Argentine full-back pair Fabian Monzon from Lyon and Gino Peruzzi from Club Atletico Velez Sarsfield, as well as young winger Kingsley Boateng from Milan.

    Returning from his loan spell with Sampdoria is Maxi Lopez, a striker who has played for such prestigious clubs as River Plate and Barcelona in the past.

    Current team

    The 2013/14 Catania team is well-balanced and defensively very strong, although the worst return of goals from open play in Serie A so far this season shows that they perhaps lack the creativity in attack to match their achievements of last year.

    The team’s top scorer as they reached a record points tally in Serie A last season was Gonzalo Bergessio, who netted 15 times in all competitions. With only one goal so far this season, though, it is Pablo Barrientos who is the current leading marksman with three.

    Nicknamed “The Smurf”, Barrientos is a player with great flair on the ball, and the dribbling skills of compatriot Lucas Castro on the other wing are equally eye-catching.

    Another key Argentine in the Catania set-up is Nicolas Spolli. Formerly of Newell’s Old Boys, he signed for the Rossazzurri in 2009 and has been a regular fixture in the defence ever since.

    Ex-Juve defender Nicola Legrottaglie can now also be found providing a wealth of experience in the Catania back line. The former Italian international, who spent a total of seven years with the Bianconeri and is now aged 37, is elegant on the ball and also a threat from corners.

    Manager

    Current manager Luigi De Canio is a recent arrival in the Rossazzurri dugout, having replaced Rolando Maran on 20 October.

    An ex-defender, he spent most of his playing career in Serie C1 and C2. The club he lined up for the most was Matera, where he made nearly 150 appearances.

    His coaching career began in 1989 at Pisticci, and after narrowly missing out on promotion multiple times at subsequent lower league clubs, the last of which was Pescara, he caught the attention of Serie A side Udinese.

    De Canio proved their faith in him was justified with a very successful first season with the Zebrette: he guided them to a UEFA Intertoto Cup win that saw them receive a spot in the UEFA Cup for the following year.

    But a disappointing  subsequent campaign meant that it fell to Luciano Spalletti to save them from relegation when he replaced De Canio in March.

    His next posts at Napoli, Reggina, Genoa and Siena produced inconsistent results, but QPR decided to appoint him as their new boss in 2007. He became a firm favourite amongst the Hoops faithful during his spell in England, but returned to Italy in 2009 to try and save relegation-battlers Lecce.

    De Canio didn’t manage to stop the Giallorossi from going down that year, but he did take them back up to Serie A at the first attempt in 2010.

    Following a brief spell at Genoa, he now finds himself tasked with breathing new life into the struggling Sicilians.

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