Diego Farias’ strike embodied everything that has been wrong with Genoa so far this campaign. The initial cross should never have been allowed to come into the box, it should then unquestionably have been cleared, and finally the ball that was hit into the ground, needed to be saved. Instead it found its way into the back of the net in bizarre fashion. This all came on the back of a large spell of possession, but the Grifone still found themselves dropping points away in Sardinia. Cesare Prandelli now returns to Florence with the Rossobu and will be desperate not to drop more points in such frustrating fashion.
When most sides at the wrong end of the table assess themselves, they perhaps don’t have to take into account that they have in their arsenal one of the league’s top goalscorers. Krzysztof Piatek stands at the top of the Serie A scoring charts with 13 goals, a rare treat for a team in such dire straits. The Genoese currently sit in 14th place, but thanks to the Polish striker they have amassed 25 goals, one more then Milan in sixth spot. They have a squad list that boasts both experience and some youthful talent, and they have an experienced new Coach who has already started to make some improvements.
The statistics, however, also show another side. They have conceded 35 goals in 18 games, only Frosinone and Empoli have conceded more and since the beginning of October they have only won one game. They have lost seven and drawn four in the league in this period, conceding 24 times in this run. There is certainly an issue with the defence, but in Prandelli’s last two games he has managed to get the back line more organised even though it is far from perfect. The 3-1 win against Atalanta looked to be a turning point as Piatek was back on the scoring charts and they played with a fluidity that they had been missing. But this same side, against Cagliari, saw some of their old destructive traits return.
Prandelli’s 3-1-4-2 does appear to be a good solution, at least on paper. Piatek is not they only offensive threat as Christian Kouame also looks dangerous at times.The pacy Ivorian may only have three goals and three assists but at 21, he is still learning and could offer much before the season is out. Daniel Bessa in the midfield also looks like he is improving since the new Coach arrived, as does Daniel Lazovic though the Serbian winger perhaps needs to add more end product to his game. However, he has all the attributes to see him play a big part in the season. Surprisingly, even though 35 goals have been shipped, Ionut Radu, on loan from Inter in goal, looks like a very bright talent and Genoa could have conceded many more without him.
What is inherent in this team, however, is a collective ability to switch off and this was acknowledged by the Coach when he talked to Radio Rai after the defeat in their last game.
“The incident with the goal conditioned the result,” Prandelli explained. We have to go home without three points, but we could have got something more. We’re growing in terms of the collective, but there’s a lot of regret because we were in control out there.”
He went on to say that they have to improve in the final third but the main issue surely lies with the defence. Whether Genoa can use the January transfer window to improve on the likes of Domenico Criscito, Nicolas Spolli and Davide Biraschi, will certainly dictate how close the side could come to relegation.
Prandelli has a frustrating conundrum with Genoa, in that much of the structure he needs should be there. The defence seems to be the obvious flaw, but he has addressed the issue with the collective mentality and, as exhibited against Cagliari, for the most part they can play as a group. They have a goalscorer, a capable goalkeeper and some quality in midfield. At the very least the Coach must be confident that his survival chances must be boosted by the fact that there are three worse teams below them.
Perhaps the worry for Genoa is that despite the positives they are still in abominable form, and with Fiorentina and Milan in their next two games they will be pressed not to continue this run. Admittedly, they will have chances against the Viola and Rossoneri, who are also struggling, but the Grifone will be conscious that they have to find form fast. On paper it can be argued that this team should not go down, but Prandelli needs to solve the puzzle quickly or risk just such a fate.