Brescia, armed with one of Italian football’s greatest mavericks in their chairman Massimo Cellino, were back in Serie A for 2019/20. There was much promise for the Serie B winners, especially when they managed to bring the enigmatic Mario Balotelli to the club from Marseille during the summer.
In typical Cellino fashion, no side replaced their manager as many times either with Eugenio Corini (twice), Fabio Grosso and Diego Lopez taking the hot seat throughout the season which certainly hindered their quest for survival.
Relegation was confirmed with a 2-1 defeat at home to Parma on Matchday 36, sending the Little Swallows back to Serie B at the first time of asking.
Mario Balotelli’s failed homecoming
The biggest disappointment was the impact, or probably better stated as a lack of impact, from Mario Balotelli. A lot of fuss was made of the much travelled Balotelli’s arrival as it was sold as something of a homecoming. ‘Super Mario’ claimed it to be a move to the club his family supported and it looked on the face of it to be a place he could escape the limelight.
However, in typical Balotelli fashion, he flattered to deceive and brought endless baggage. On the pitch he made just nineteen appearances, none post lockdown and hit just five goals.
Perhaps the lowest point was when he was turned away from the club’s training ground upon the resumption of Serie A after the enforced break and he pretty much hasn’t been seen since.
For Balotelli, “where next?” is the burning question, but he certainly won’t be helping them in their aim to bounce back from relegation, with owner Massimo Cellino confirming that he has washed his hands of the striker.
Tonali’s debut Serie A season
Although Balotelli took a lot of the limelight with his fairytale arrival, the real jewel of Brescia and star of their Serie B success was ready to make his Serie A bow at the age of 19. Compared to Pirlo due to their similar hairstyles, Sandro Tonali had been the talk of Serie B despite his tender age and was tipped to be one of the breakout stars of the year.
Tonali did impress in what was to be a poor Brescia side, who despite loftier expectations, did not hit the heights that some expected. Other than SPAL, no side spent longer in the bottom three places than Brescia this year.
In what was a big year for the midfielder, Tonali must take it and put it down to experience and he should certainly be looking no further than the case of Mario Balotelli for what can go wrong. Inter and Milan are said to be circling looking for his signature and it will be an interesting summer seeing who nets his services for next term.
Player of the season: Ernesto Torregrossa
Despite Tonali and Balotelli grabbing the attention of most, it was ex-Verona man Ernesto Torregrossa who was Brescia’s shining light in a dour year.
Seven goals and three assists was the best output produced by anyone from the Lombardy based outfit and it certainly seemed at times that Torregrossa was dragging the side on his own.
In summary, it was a disappointing return for a club that brought so many good Serie A memories at the early part of the century.
How will they fare next season?
With the side retaining a large portion of the side they came up with, it may mean they’re well equipped for a stab at promotion next year in Serie B. One thing that’s certain is they may need more than one manager to do so if Cellino gets his way.