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Venezia: Serie B's Playoff Winners

Last Sunday, the Serie B season came to an end at the Stadio Pier Luigi Penzo at Venezia. Venezia took on VSC Cremonense in the second leg of the play-off final and came out as play-off winners thanks to striker Christian Gytkjaer's only goal of the tie, coming in the 26th minute. That goal ramped up the atmosphere and helped drive I Lagunari home and take them back to the Serie A after a two-year exile in Italy's second division.

Does Venezia have a better chance of staying up this time, or will the potential departure of manager Paolo Vanoli throw a spanner in the works this preseason?

Venezia's previous stint in Serie A came during the 2021/22 season after 19 years outside the top flight of Italian football; this also saw the culmination of an incredible 5-year spell of promotions from Serie D to Serie A, but unfortunately, their stay in the top flight would only last a season and would finish dead last with 27 points from 6 wins, 9 draws and 23 loses; however, this season did spark some memorable matchups at the Penzo such as a 3-2 win at the Penzo against Jose Mourinho's AS Roma, also managing a 1-1 draw in the away fixture. Other memorable results include another close 4-3 win against Bologna as well as taking Verona all the way in the derby despite losing 4-3.

At the end of the 23/24 season, the fight for relegation was certainly close; there were only eight points separating 13th place Verona and 18th place Frosinone and 8 separating them with Sassuolo, and this will certainly remain the same as Venezia, alongside fellow promotion sides Parma and Como, are considerably strong sides finishing with a six-point gap between Parma in 1st and Venezia in 3rd.

They are definitely a stronger trio of teams in comparison to the three that have been relegated to Serie B, which should ensure that the relegation fight will be a lot stronger this upcoming season and with that Venezia will have to certainly upgrade the squad in certain areas to better adapt and transition to Serie A and give them a better chance at surviving for more than one season.

On November 7, 2022, Paolo Vanoli was appointed manager of a struggling Venezia side. He had previously only managed Russian side Spartak Moscow, who he had seen success with the season prior, winning the Russian Cup.

Vanoli would guide Venezia to 8th place, reviving their season but still just missing out on a place in the playoffs; this momentum would continue into the following season, which would see them compete across the playoff positions and battle closely with Como. They went down to the season's final day, and despite being 1-0 up in the first 17 minutes against Spezia, they would end up losing 2-1, handing Como the final automatic promotion place.

This meant Venezia would have to go through the gauntlet of the play-offs; however, they would go straight to the playoff semi-finals due to their league finish and face Palermo in a two-legged tie, travelling down to the south of Italy with not much support on the night as due to restrictions there were only a very small handful of fans to cheer them on, and despite this disadvantage, Venezia prevailed beating Palermo 1-0, and in the return leg would use their home-advantage wisely as they would win this leg 2-1 sending them through the final where they would face Cremonese.

The first leg of the final was also played away from home, this time a lot closer to Venice as Cremonese are from the Lombardy region, so it was a much shorter journey, and no restrictions meant the team could be properly supported and certainly did make their voices heard, backing the team to a 0-0 draw, a great result for Venezia as whilst a win would obviosuly be better, they could afford a draw because of their strong home record.

With this in mind the pressure was mostly on Cremonese's shoudlers, but depsite this the second leg was certainly a feisty affair with tempers flaring on both sides throughout. It would be Gianluca Busio's assist that would find Christian Gytkjaer to slot it home and would roar the Penzo into life, guiding Venzia over the finish line.

Whilst this is one of few accolades for Paolo Vanoli, it is safe to say that he has a fairly good resume so far and that certainly explains why he has been linked with the vacancy at now fellow Serie A side Torino after Ivan Juric's departure.

Whilst this is speculation for now, Venezia's promotion could definitely play a part in his decision to move to Turin as he is still contracted to the club until June 2026 and in his brief time at the club has turned it round and in his first full season gained the promotion to Serie A.

There is a good foundation that can be upgraded and built upon, however Torino could be a step up, finishing 8th this season in the top flight having just missed out on European football due to Atalanta's European success and could be the change to help Vanoli thrive further.

For now the city of Venice, players and Vanoli will relish and celebrate the promotion having just had their parade along the Grand Canal and when the dust has settled Vanoli's future will be known and certainly either way will definitely have an affect on the squad for the upcoming season and be vital to their success.

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