In years gone by, Genoa would not have been able to come back against Roma. In seasons past, they would not have been able to hold out to beat Fiorentina, but this team is different. With a new Coach, a good summer transfer window and a playing style that is impressive, albeit early in its evolution, there are reasons for the fans to be excited. There will be bumps along the way, but nobody betting on soccer would put them among the relegation candidates. This could be an entertaining campaign, despite the club being up for sale.
Italy’s oldest club is now in the hands of a financial advisor trusted with finding a buyer. The relationship between President Enrico Preziosi and the fans has been toxic for some time, to the degree that he can’t attend home games. He has been trying to offload what is an Italian institution. He has been doing this for some time, since he realised that he could no longer provide what the Grifone need. Back in 2017 there was nearly a deal done between the Genoa owner and financier Giulio Gallazzi, but the rumoured €120m takeover fell through.
The Rossoblu have had to go through season to season with a squad that has been cobbled together with a mixture of scouting and loan deals. Some of these have been a success and Krzysztof Piatek’s sale to Milan allowed Preziosi to open up his cheque book slightly. The rush to sell almost saw the Grifone relegated and this would have been a disaster, as the price of the club would have plummeted. However, through luck and a plethora of Coaches, they somehow survived.
This is Genoa, a revolving door of tacticians, a hit and miss transfer policy and an owner who wants out.
This summer however, something changed. Firstly, the transfers in the summer were sensible. Andrea Pinamonti came in on loan from Inter, he is a promising forward who could do well this campaign, Ionut Radu was retained in goal whilst Lasse Schone was the star signing fresh from Ajax and the Champions League semi-finals. Andrea Favilli was also a good acquisition from Juventus, all these adding to other good loan deals, from Antonio Barreca to Riccardo Saponara.
Perhaps the best acquisition was the new Coach. Aurelio Andreazzoli arrived after Davide Ballardini, Ivan Juric and Cesare Prandelli were disposed of last season. The former Empoli boss impressed last campaign, despite his team being relegated. The style of football was good to watch and now with better resources, hopes are high. Despite being 65 years of age, he is extremely progressive and very innovative. His football is attractive, and tactically he is flexible, showing that whether 3-5-2, 4-3-2-1, 4-2-3-1 or otherwise, he can adapt during the game.
Andreazzoli will make sure his team adopt a heavy pressing style when out of possession. He likes to man-mark and this added steel and organisation showed against Fiorentina (even if they rode their luck). The 2-1 win didn’t only have examples of collective discipline in defence. His side also have shown innovative methods of attacking, focusing on set pieces as well as building from the back.
The best way to describe Genoa this campaign is that they have freedom within a structure. They have more than one way to react, just look at the 3-3 draw with Roma and how they fought back three times in very different ways. Andreazzoli wants his team to get the ball up the pitch as quickly as possible and if that isn’t working, he wants to play across the pitch to exploit the space.
Genoa are a work in progress and it is very early to tell just how they will do this campaign, but on and off the field there is a feeling of structure and a plan. Yes, it is in the backdrop of a potential sale, but at this moment in time they look like they are building a model that is attractive to buy. They have a team that looks to have strength in depth, they have a Coach with ideas and started the campaign well.
They have a tough game against Atalanta next, facing Genoa legend Gian Piero Gasperini. Maybe it could be an opportunity on the touchline to hand over the baton.