Guide to Salernitana 2022/23 | The Last Man

Who more: Matteo Lovato (Atalanta), Domagoj Bradaric (Lille), Diego Valencia (Universidad Catolica), Dylan Bronn (Metz), Tonny Vilhena (Espanyol), Junior Sambia (Montpellier), Erik Botheim (Krasnodar), Lorenzo Pirola (Inter), Giulio Major (Spice)

Who less: Ederson (Atalanta), Mamadou Coulibaly (Ternana), Milan Djuric (Hellas Verona), Stefan Strandberg (Valerenga), Joel Obi (Reggina), Mikael (Internacional), Riccardo Gagliolo (Reggina), Vid Belec (Apoel Nicosia), Francesco Di Tacchio (Ternana)

After the spectacular final of last season, the season of confirmation arrives for Salernitana. Making predictions on the fight not to be relegated this year is really complicated, a little because of the illustrious relegations of last year, a little because of the unknowns about the level of the newly promoted: will Lecce and Cremonese be so distant from Salernitana and Spezia? Is Monza really a consistent team or will they break up despite the big hits this summer? In Salerno, to stir things up a bit, the separation between President Iervolino and DS Sabatini had arrived. An unexpected divorce, which came a few days after the life lessons that the Director had dispensed during the beautiful documentary by DAZN. In his place came Morgan De Sanctis, a former Sabatini player, who was still able to bring names with a certain exotic charm to Salerno, above all the tip of Bodo Glimt Erik Botheim.

The reversals, however, were not only in management, but also in the field. Salernitana has kept most of the players from last season, but has sold perhaps the two most decisive individuals on a tactical level: Djuric and Ederson. If for a prospective player like the Brazilian it was legitimate to expect a sale, the departure of the Italo-Bosnian tip was a little less obvious. The two farewells force Nicola to review their mechanisms. Djuric, with his dominance in the aerial game, was the perfect shortcut to avoid risks in the construction phase and immediately reach the offensive frontline. Ederson, on the other hand, gave quality with his ball and chain snatches.

Nicola, however, finds himself for the first time in years preparing for the season right from the start, with more time to experiment with new solutions. “I think the priority for us is to be aggressive,” he revealed to DAZN, and who knows that this year’s Salernitana couldn’t be a more enterprising team, with and without the ball. Against Rome, for example, we saw good phases of pressing and re-aggression, with the outsiders of 3-5-2 Candreva and Mazzocchi who stood up on the equal role of Rome, without waiting for the midfielder to slip on the flanks to stay closer to the power stations.

Maybe the grenades will not be able to support them over entire games, but playing high-intensity phases without the ball could allow them to keep up with even higher-level teams: the Salernitana of the last season finale knew how to capitalize on the moments in which it dominated the ‘opponent for intensity, perhaps with an emotional boost that will be more difficult to replicate as early as August. The spirit, then, will have to be accompanied by a more accurate organization in the way of pressing and arriving in the area, perhaps multiplying those moments of impetus and aggression in which the team gave the idea of ​​being able to bite anyone.

The signings of Bronn and Lovato in defense, for example, seem to go in this direction. Lovato missed the match against Roma due to an ailment, while the Frenchman immediately started, right-footed center of 3-5-2. It was no problem to follow Zaniolo even beyond the half of the pitch, but on some occasions he forgot to cover the space behind him, leaving the attacks to the depth to Rome: it’s okay to be aggressive, but for a team that competes first and foremost thanks to one’s solidity, such distractions are not acceptable.

Bronn follows Zaniolo in deep areas of the field. The Frenchman takes one step too far and Zaniolo leaves behind him


Due to the choice to follow the Romanists one on one, the defenders of Salernitana are distant from each other and Bronn’s distraction is fatal. Zaniolo receives the launch in the area. A save by Sepe from a German school goalkeeper avoids the goal.

On the other hand, Gyomber and Fazio proved to be punctual in defending the area, but if it comes to following the man above they suffer from too much space on the hips. Calibrating the moments in which to raise the pressure to reach a compromise between the characteristics of Lovato and Bronn and those of Fazio and Gyomber, will be one of the main points of Nicola’s work.

Candreva’s influence on the right and Vilhena’s quality on the left

As mentioned, however, for interpreters the most evident changes compared to last season concern the possession phase. The most tactically cumbersome purchase is Candreva. His arrival from Sampdoria, first of all, forces Mazzocchi to move from the right wing to the left one. After that, it is easy to predict that much of the grenade possessions will pass from the foot of the Roman exterior. Over the years Candreva has built up the image of a one-dimensional player, perverted in his choices and obsessive in his pursuit of cross. These are only partially true labels. In fact, Candreva’s attitude clearly changes if he passes from the role of winger to that of full-fledged winger and the unnerving player, capable of stressing his fans by dint of feints and crosses, becomes almost an added, capable director to direct the maneuver with refined choices. From outside of 3-5-2 Candreva receives lower and has a good variety of solutions. For many 3-5-2 teams, possession often results in a perimeter circulation that is suffocated on the wing. Candreva, on the other hand, from the outside is very skilled in finding the diagonal passage towards the center of the field for the midfielder or for the striker that comes towards him, a fundamental trace to give air to the maneuver and make it continue towards the finish. In addition, he is also able to lead inwards to open up the field when stationary: his short runs towards the center give the mezzala time to cut deep or the tip to lower itself. If Kastanos, right midfielder, will be able to coordinate his movements well with those of the Italian, then he will have found a partner able to launch him steadily towards the back.


Candreva receives the ball horizontally after the round. He is back to goal but still draws a precise throw towards the tip. It is a play performed by heart, where it is easy for the defender to read and intercept the diagonal pass inwards. Candreva, however, after training with Antonio Conte is a specialist in the play and has the ballistic qualities to invent precise throws even with a weak foot.


The ball lands on Botheim’s feet. Bonazzoli turns around him as a classic 3-5-2 tip to receive the bank. Salernitana has raised the center of gravity and overcome the pressure thanks to the Swiss efficiency of Candreva in the typical Italian 3-5-2 games.

On the other side, however, the key player will be Vilhena. Already at the first of the championship and after a few days with his new teammates, the Dutchman had ample freedom to move and choose the area in which to receive. Vilhena is the right support for a midfielder of order like Bohinen, who should be the owner in the role of Methodist: the former Feyernoord can bend down to claim the ball from the top, relieving Bohinen of setting tasks, but he can also receive tra the lines to give possession a sudden acceleration. If on the right with Candreva and Kastanos we will rely on the classic solutions of 3-5-2 – cut of the mezzala, passage from the outside towards the tips that remain close to play on the bank – on the left the quality of Vilhena should make the maneuver, less tied to solutions tried by heart.

Nicola likes to get to the attacking trocar in as little time as possible, but without Djuric it will be necessary to add a few passes. Bonazzoli and Botheim already showed great willingness in the work on the bank on Sunday, and Candreva and Vilhena will have to pay them back by adding quality not only in development, but also in finishing – without forgetting Ribery’s contribution to the game in progress.

Saving himself without going apnea would allow Salernitana to stabilize in Serie A and Nicola could finally get rid of his reputation as a coach on call.

Key player

For the way in which at the beginning of last season he guided Sampdoria towards safety, it is impossible not to mention Antonio Candreva. Vilhena will be able to give another dimension to the game of Salernitana, and at best Botheim will be a happy surprise in Serie A, but it is still a question of bets. Candreva, on the other hand, must be the certainty on which to build the next championship. Without Ederson’s conduction and the launches on Djuric, the ability to climb the Salernitana field will weigh even more on his shoulders. The readings of him from the right, then, will have to address every attack and will affect the performance of the teammates. It is reasonable to think that a good slice of salvation depends on the performance of the former Lazio and Inter winger.

Player to be taken in Fantasy Football

For the reasons mentioned above, always Antonio Candreva. His great responsibilities will allow him to touch many balls. Of course, compared to last season he will be outside by a 3-5-2, no more than a 4-4-2, with different tasks: less focused on the penalty area, more focused on building the game, even in a less direct way. . Candreva’s influence from the right might be good for Federico Bonazzoli and Botheim, who could be good names as fifth striker.

Best possible scenario

Salernitana plays in a less emotional and more reasoned way than in the second part of last season, but Nicola’s formula is still a winner. Behind Lovato is punctual and aggressive like two seasons ago. Candreva from the right organizes the game and allows all the pieces of the puzzle to fit together: the team can go up, Kastanos can cut, the spikes can meet. From center left Vilhena has total freedom of movement and gives quality to every touch. While Bonazzoli wages war on all balls, Botheim shows good confidence with the penalty area, closing the season with twelve goals. In February the best match of Nicola’s Salernitana arrives: a spectacular 1-1 against Juventus, in a game in which Ribery and Di Maria play another sport and for an abundant hour they make us think of witnessing a Real Madrid-Bayern Munich of Champions ten years ago. The Salernitana is saved on the third to last day. President Iervolino organizes a big party at Arechi: a stage is set up in the center of the pitch where, after the audience’s greetings to the players, Capo Plaza and Botheim go up to rap.

Worst scenario possible

Fazio and Gyomber are unable to sustain an aggressive defense, while Bronn is too distracted and often gets caught behind. Nicola is forced to lower the center of gravity, but Candreva is no longer that of Euro 2016 and does not have the pace to get the team back: with so few ways out, Djuric’s centimeters would have been useful. As had happened in Crotone, at the halfway point Nicola believes that there are no conditions to continue and prefers to resign. The DS Morgan De Sanctis, in memory of the times in Naples, brings Walter Mazzarri to the grenade bench. This time, however, there is no way to straighten the season and the January market is not enough with the vintage purchases of Strootman and Zakaria Labyad. Salernitana relegates and Franck Ribery announces his farewell to football.