European Second Divisions Round Up
In August, I looked at a clutch of five once famous clubs currently biding their time in various European second divisions, in the same way that Newcastle and Nottingham Forest among others are being forced to do so in the Championship. With both Magpies and Tricky Trees primed for an exit from purgatory, I thought it would be interesting to assess the progress of these additional five exiles:
Now captained by former Hammer David Di Michele, the Granata are experiencing a trying season for a club of their size, having slumped to eighth place in advance of this afternoon’s trip to Vicenza. The one positive note has been the reliable goalscoring of Rolando Bianchi, once an £8.8 million buy for Manchester City. He has weighed in with 12 in 18 matches. The current leaders in Serie B are another yo yo club, Lecce, who have no fewer than five Brazilians on their books. Experienced Uruguayan Guillermo Giacomazzi is a legend in the Italian south and this season has seen him act as the fulcrum of the team once again.
The Canaris current position in sixth won’t see them chirping, especially as Breton rivals Brest are currently in a promotion slot. A 2-1 defeat in Corsica against Ajaccio, described on the club website in Franglais as a “Cruel Finish” has followed up a very poor 3-0 defeat in the Ardennes at Sedan; away form clearly being a cause for concern. Another side from the Ouest, Norman club Caen lead the way in France, but the most surprising development is the lofty position of Vincent van Gogh’s possible favourite team in third, the hitherto unknown AC Arles-Avignon. Their best known player is the son of former Marseille great Abedi Pele, Andre Ayew, on loan from Lorient and a World Youth Cup winning captain in Egypt in October. Arles have also held talks to become a feeder club for Manchester City which would be evidence of the slow, but disturbing growth of a modern trend.
Real Sociedad (Spain)
News in the Spanish second tier has been dominated by the investigation of seven players from Las Palmas and Ray Vallecano following allegations of match fixing, but the Basques of San Sebastian won’t be bothered about that, sitting as they are atop the table. Uruguayan boss Martin Lasarte has profited from the form of countryman Carlos Bueno up front although a 5-1 thumping in Alicante at the hands of nearest rivals Hercules will have raised doubts. The other pre-season favourites, Real Betis lie third, although German striker David Odonkor’s time in Seville has been wrecked by injury: he’s been linked with a move to our own West Bromwich Albion in the past.
1. FC Kaiserslautern (Germany)
If Real Socieded can be content with proceedings so far in 2009-10, Kaiserlsautern will be even happier. Their’s is a six point lead over every counter culturalist’s favourite club, St. Pauli, with another famous name, Fortuna Dusseldorf in third. Brazilian defender Rodnei has been pivotal for Die Roten Teufel and Slovak Adam Nemec will think he is in dreamland, his country having qualified recently for their first World Cup. Sadly, the Ossis from the former German Democratic Republic continue with their path of mediocrity since the Wende, with Energie Cottbus, 1. FC Union Berlin and Hansa Rostock all mired in mid table.
Dukla Prague (Czech Republic)
The informative English language website, Czech Football Daily is a good place for checking on the Bohemian and Moravian footballing worlds and it’s time to take stock with the Gambrinus and Druha leagues on hold for the winter break until late February. Of the five teams featured in this article, Dukla have fallen on the hardest times since their sixties and seventies heydays and a relatively new club born out of a complicated series of mergers and reawakenings have won just six of their sixteen matches this season, placing them in lower mid league. Usti nad Labem have a six point advantage over Hradec Kralove at the top.