Spezia coach Semplici pre-Serie A relegation playoff: “We’re ready for the most important game of the year, we’ve worked on penalties”

Spezia boss Leonardo Semplici is happy with his side's preparation for their Serie A relegation playoff against Verona, and says his side have been working on penalties in case of a draw after 90 minutes.

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Spezia coach Leonardo Semplici has been readying his Aquilotti side for what he describes as their “biggest game of the year” against Hellas Verona in a one-off Serie A relegation playoff to decide the third and final team falling into Serie B.

The playoff has come about after both Spezia and Verona finished on 31 points this season and following a rule change this season meaning that head-to-head records would not be used to differentiate between first-second and 17th-18th in the Serie A table.

“We’re preparing for the most important game of the year,” Semplici said ahead of the game in Reggio Emilia. “We’ve played well in every game and shown what we have in us. We’ve prepared for the game well and the energy has been right.”

Spezia’s Dimitrios Nikolaou celebrates scoring. (Photo: Getty)

Semplici wouldn’t give much away about his Spezia starting XI for the playoff against Verona, but insists that he’s confident in whoever is chosen to replace the suspended Emmanuel Gyasi and Kelvin Amian, reserving special praise for Salva Ferrer.

The possibility of penalties

There is the possibility of penalties should a winner not be found in 90 minutes with no extra time possible, and Semplici says that his Spezia have been working on spot kicks consistently since his appointment earlier in the season.

“We didn’t only practice penalties this week; we always do it,” Semplici said. “We’ve done it over the course of the 15 games i”ve been here.

Spezia’s Przemysław Wiśniewski and Salvatore Esposito. [@acspezia_en]

“We’ve tried with two or three penalty takers, and now we’ve tried everybody. But taking penalties in training is one thing and in the game it’s another and depends on courage, how you feel, and what’s been happening.

“I don’t want to think about that though and it’ll be a real fight to try to win.”

Semplici also expressed his satisfaction with the game being played in Reggio Emilia as opposed to the initially-chosen venue of Udine.

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