Gian Piero Gasperini returns to lead a Genoa side that once again has several new players. Can the Grifone improve on last season’s 14th place? Sam Lewis speculates.
Turnover is typically the name of the game at Genoa, with regular player and coaching changes reigning supreme under the impatient leadership of President Enrico Preziosi. 2014 is no different with 13 new players at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, including a plethora of attacking players such as Alessandro Matri and Chile’s World Cup nearly man, Mauricio Pinilla. The two forwards have been brought in to replace the outgoing Alberto Gilardino, who is now plying his trade in China while trio Sime Vrsaljko, Antonio Floro Flores and Davide Biondini have all headed to Sassuolo.
Among the new arrivals is pacey winger Diego Perotti, previously of Sevilla. The Argentinean can provide an attacking flair and pace that Genoa have struggled to find since Rodrigo Palacio took his talents to Inter, while fellow new signing Iago Falque - another wide man - should be a fit in Gasperini’s 3-4-3 formation.
Speaking of Gasperini, the Coach is back for a second consecutive season – the first Genoa boss to do so since…Gian Piero Gasperini in 2007.
The tactician will be hoping for an improved performance from his side when the season starts – Genoa have won just two of their six friendlies leading up to the beginning of the Serie A season, scoring just seven goals. Another point of reference is that five of those seven came against Pro Vercelli and Savona, the former a Serie B side and the latter a Lega Pro side. Not overly positive.
The Rossublu also have a difficult start to the season, facing Rafael Benitez’s Napoli first before Fiorentina, Lazio, Hellas Verona, the Derby della Laterna against Sampdoria and Roberto Donadoni’s Parma in consecutive weeks. With so many new arrivals at the club and a tough start, Genoa could be struggling to catch up before the end of October.
Gasperini starts the second season of his second tenure at Genoa still a staunch advocate of the 3-4-3 that made him such a lauded tactician. Although popular at the club, the difficulty of the Grifone’s schedule could heap pressure on the 56-year-old as the season begins and an exit similar to his firing in 2010 would be unsurprising.
Talented and frustrating in equal measure, Pinilla is an appropriate talisman for a side that is as ambitious as it is chaotic. A terrific forward on song, the hope is that he is the next great Genoa forward after Diego Milito, Rodrigo Palacio and Alberto Gilardino. Can the Chilean step up?
The former winger is quick and athletic and could give a Genoa side with two primarily stationary starting forwards in Pinilla and Matri a creative hub. For just over €250,000 too, it could prove to be a bargain.
Andrea Bertolacci is one of the more underrated midfielders in Serie A, an energetic central presence who is reminiscent of Claudio Marchisio. Although Italy’s options in the middle are plentiful, with Alberto Aquilani and Marco Parolo receiving call-ups of late, Bertolacci is a player who has a chance to impress Italy’s new Coach this season.
Perin; Burdisso, De Maio, Portanova; Marchese, Kucka, Bertolacci, EDENILSON; PEROTTI, PINILLA, FALQUE.
As ever with Genoa, there is enough significant talent to warrant a finish in the top half of the table, but with a tough opening schedule coupled with the itchy trigger finger of Enrico Preziosi, a multi-Coach, relegation threatened finish is just as likely.
|Lamanna (Siena)||GK||Donnarumma (Bari)||GK|
|Rosi (Sassuolo)||D||Motta (Juventus)||D|
|Izzo (Avellino)||D||Gamberini (Chievo)||D|
|Edenilson (Udinese)||D||De Ceglie (Juventus)||D|
|Ragusa (Pescara)||M||Matuzalem (Bologna)||D|
|Greco (Livorno)||M||Vrsjalko (Sassuolo)||D|
|Perotti (Sevilla)||M||Biondini (Sassuolo)||M|
|Improta (Padova)||M||Centurion (Racing)||M|
|Iago (Tottenham Hotspur)||M||Sculli (Lazio)||A|
|Pinilla (Cagliari)||A||Konate (Krosnodar)||A|
|Matri (Milan)||A||Floro Flores||A|