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Thursday July 30 2020
Relegation battle goes down to the wire

The fight to avoid relegation goes down to the wire, as only one point separates Genoa and Lecce. Lee Bushe analyses the situation going into the final round.

With just 10 minutes left to go in their game against Udinese, Lecce were looking set to be relegated to Serie B after just one season back in the top flight. It didn’t matter that the team directly above them, Genoa, were getting a 5-0 beating at Sassuolo. The full three points was the minimum if Lecce were to stand any chance of avoiding relegation, and with 80 minutes on the clock, they were drawing 1-1.

Then, in the 81st minute, Lecce put themselves into the lead through Gianluca Lapadula. The Giallorossi faithful would have no doubt been in raptures had they been at the Dacia Arena. Fabio Liverani’s side would hold on to that lead to take the battle for 17th place to the final game of the season.

As it stands, the situation is this: SPAL and Brescia are down, while Lecce are 18th with 35 points and Genoa are 17th with 36 points. Because Genoa have a better head-to-head record, that means if they finish level, the Grifone will stay up.

It’s still in Genoa’s hands, as if Davide Nicola’s men win against Hellas Verona, then they are safe. If they draw or lose and Lecce get the victory against Parma, it’ll send the fallen giants into Serie B.

It will be remarkable if Lecce do manage to stay up, considering they have conceded a whopping 81 goals in 37 rounds. In a season that has been dominated by attack-minded teams and with even Scudetto winners Juventus leaking 40 goals, it would be only fitting for the Salentini to stay up.

Fabio Liverani deserves credit for sticking to his tactical guns, never trying to play it safe or excessively defensive, to scrape draws here and there or put up the barricades against the big clubs. It worked, because they got impressive draws against Juventus and Inter, beating Napoli and Lazio. They’re still fighting because Lecce are pro-active and closer in spirit to Sassuolo than SPAL, more Hellas Verona than Chievo. They would already have been in front had it not been for this passionate pursuit of victory, coming back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Bologna, then losing in stoppages on the counter-attack against 10 men.

It would also be amazing to see two of the newly-promoted teams survive in Serie A, because Verona have spent most of the campaign comfortably mid-table, whereas only Brescia are guaranteed the drop – and it was the Rondinelle who won the Serie B title last term.

The only thing standing between Lecce and top flight confirmation is Genoa, a team who have been here before and seemingly learned no lessons. Just last season, they only stayed up because they had a better head-to-head record over relegated Empoli. It has been yet another turbulent year for Il Grifone, with three managerial changes and a failure to string together a decent run of form. Aurelio Andreazzoli was an intriguing choice for coach, quickly shelved for the bizarre decision to bring in Thiago Motta from the PSG youth academy, then finally acknowledging this was a relegation battle and hiring the specialist in miracles, ex-Crotone boss Davide Nicola, as well as completely transforming the squad in the January transfer market. If most teams have had two seasons in one due to the lockdown, Genoa have had about four.

When Genoa beat Lecce 2-1 in a chaotic match, with Marco Mancosu missing a penalty, it seemed as if the die had been cast. However, a glance at the fixture list showed the Marassi outfit had a much tougher run-in and that has proved to be the case.

Genoa and Lecce’s fates will be decided on the last day of the season. Lecce are at home to Parma and would fancy themselves to get a result against a team who have lost seven out of 12 games played since the restart. Meanwhile, Genoa will face Hellas Verona, a side who were promoted along with Brescia and Lecce, yet have spent the whole season comfortably mid-table.

There’s another twist in the tale, because Verona’s coach is former Genoa player and tactician Ivan Juric. The man who wept during a press conference in 2018 when he feared that he wouldn’t be able to steer his beloved club away from the drop zone. He spent the final four years of his playing career at Marassi and returns here knowing he could be responsible for sending Genoa into the ignominy of Serie B.

Have your say...
Mi displace, but Genova should not have the privilege of two bad squads in SerieA. Forsa Lecce!,
on the 2nd August, 2020 at 6:05am
Genoa deserve much better than Preziosi. This club, while not having won in a very long time, is very historical. They're 1 scudetto short of a star. They play in the iconic Luigi Ferraris and have rabid fans. This club needs to be owned by someone or a group that will invest and properly manage it. The star might be a pipe dream, but a consistent top 10 Genoa can and should happen.
on the 31st July, 2020 at 8:49pm
even last season with piatek and kouame up front genoa looked vulnerable. it is telling that their top scorer is a 37 year old pandev. i suppose banking on pinamonti is a nod to the future some forward thinking maybe next season if he stays he will prove his worth.

genoa insane transfer policy is the cause of their decline selling on anyone and everyone in their team even before they get a game for the senior team. if they survive they will be in the same situation next season.
on the 30th July, 2020 at 10:11pm
Wow! Lecce has a chance and thats great for football and Serie A.
A small regional club from Apulia has not played it safe with the coach and team going for broke every game, you have to give then credit for their courage, bravery style and attidude. Fearless football has its merits, though not often the best results. With Benevento coming into the league next year southern Italy will be represented well.
Genoa has a tough task, though home vs Verona, a tough team.
Interesting season end. Bravo!
on the 30th July, 2020 at 4:00pm
Genoa is better for Serie A. Bigger team, more fans, has a cool derby with Samp
on the 30th July, 2020 at 2:48pm
this year relegation battle have the simpliest equations. very disappointing from spal, brescia failed to live up to expectations after coming through serie a long time down. and lecce played a decent season worthy of a survival if only they can beat ever standing all time fighter genoaa.
on the 30th July, 2020 at 2:09pm

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