The regular Serie B season came to an end on Friday, May 19, and it did so in dramatic fashion. Even as the final whistle blew in Venezia’s 2-1 loss away at Parma, the Arancioneroverde didn’t know whether or not they had done enough to reach the Serie B Playoffs, waiting for the final whistle to blow as Palermo blew a two-goal lead to draw with relegation-threatened Brescia.
With Parma themselves securing fourth place with that win and, as a result, a favourable playoff draw, Gianluigi Buffon and his Gialloblu teammates celebrated beneath their Curva Nord and returned to the dressing room. Venezia, though, remained out on the pitch and gathered around a phone to watch the final minutes of the game in Sicily play out. With the final whistle in Palermo, Venezia’s players and fans celebrated together under the rain in Emilia-Romanga.
Which teams are in the Serie B Playoffs?
The list of teams set to compete in the Serie B Playoffs is a mix of romantic old names of Italian football and some more surprising sides as well.
Parma aren’t the only team involved with recent experience in Serie A, as Cagliari are also still dreaming of returning to the Italian top flight. With Frosinone and Genoa already promoted automatically, there’s every chance that each of the three teams promoted could be familiar names to Serie A fans. Although some Serie B tables show Cagliari finishing above Parma in fourth on goal difference, that is incorrect and important to note, and we’ll get to why that is in a moment.
Sudtirol are perhaps the most unknown side in the Serie B Playoffs, and their story is impressive. Based in Trentino Alto-Adige in the Alps and bordered by Austria and Switzerland, Sudtirol are from a part of Northern Italy where German is spoken by more of the population than Italian, as per the 2011 census. The 2022/23 season was their first-ever in Serie B, making them the first side from their region to compete in the Italian second tier.
At the very far end of the Italian peninsula, Bari and Reggina are also competing in the Serie B Playoffs, joining Parma, Cagliari, Sudtirol and Venezia.
How do the Serie B Playoffs work?
With six teams qualifying for the Serie B Playoffs, their structure is a little different to what is seen in English football’s system, and this is why Parma securing fourth place over Cagliari on their superior head-to-head record matters.
Bari and Parma – having finished third and fourth, respectively – are seeded and secure an automatic place in the semi-finals of the Serie B Playoffs. Their position in the table also means they will have the luxury of playing their respective semi-final second legs at home, and have a crucial tiebreaker on their side.
Cagliari, by finishing fifth, are rewarded with an on-paper favourable home fixture against eighth-placed Venezia to qualify for the semi-finals, while sixth-placed Sudtirol are afforded home advantage against Reggina. Those games are one-off ties and, in the event of a draw after 90 minutes, 30 minutes of extra time will be played. Should things still remain level then, the team who finished higher in the regular Serie B season will advance to the next round.
Penalty shootouts will only occur in the Serie B Playoffs if two teams had finished the regular season with the same number of points, as final league position is the first tiebreaker in the event of a draw after extra time.
The winners of Sudtirol vs Reggina will face Bari, and the winners of Cagliari vs Venezia will play Parma.
Serie B Playoffs: Fixture dates
May 26: Cagliari vs Venezia
May 27: Sudtirol vs Reggina
May 29: Sudtirol vs Bari
May 30: Cagliari vs Parma
June 2: Bari vs Sudtirol
June 3: Parma vs Cagliari
June 8: Cagliari vs Bari (1-1)
June 11: Bari vs Cagliari (0-1; Cagliari promoted with a 1-2 aggregate scoreline)