Coppa Italia: Fourth Round / Team rating: [4/10] / Top scorer: Krzysztof Piatek (13) / Europe: N/A
Always prone to getting in their own way, Genoa did everything possible to get themselves relegated this season and it nearly worked, writes Susy Campanale.
It’s hard to believe, considering how the campaign ended, but Genoa had a decent start to this season. For the first time ever, in his third different stint, Davide Ballardini was trusted with beginning a championship and not just rushing in to rescue one. They were in 12th place after eight rounds, had the Capocannoniere in Krzysztof Piatek and showed great promise when President Enrico Preziosi threw out the bathwater, baby and entire tub. He sacked Ballardini, publicly insulted him as a “terrible Coach” and brought back Ivan Juric, a tactician Genoa had fired only a few months ago.
Juric opened his latest spell on the Genoa bench with a surprise 1-1 draw at Juventus, but it was to be the only bright spot and he too was fired six rounds later. Cesare Prandelli returned to Serie A for this prestigious role and quickly realised the mistake he’d made accepting any work under Preziosi. Once again, the patron went about undoing all the good work by selling hitman Piatek to Milan in the January transfer window and bringing in Tonny Sanabria, whose main contribution was insisting on taking a stoppage-time penalty against Roma and promptly missing it.
Ever since Piatek’s sale, Genoa looked like they just were waiting for the season to end. It dragged on forever, interrupted by the occasional flukish victory over Lazio and Juventus. Prandelli limped over the finish line with a 10-round winless streak, picking up just five draws and scoring five goals.
Even when they went into the final weekend knowing they had to beat Fiorentina and hope Empoli didn’t win away to Inter, they still didn’t muster a shot on target. That painful 0-0 draw proved enough to keep Genoa from relegation thanks only to a superior head-to-head record with Empoli, but you’d be hard-pressed to say they deserved to stay up.
Coach: Ballardini, Juric, Prandelli
At least we know this’ll be the last time we see Davide Ballardini on the Genoa bench, because he won’t return a fourth time after President Enrico Preziosi’s unwarranted insults. Ivan Juric managed to stop Krzysztof Piatek scoring and Cesare Prandelli continued his remarkable downward career trajectory by barely avoiding relegation.
Player of the Season: Krzysztof Piatek
It’s a sad state of affairs when your best player by a mile was only in the team for six months. The Pistolero from Poland arrived with very little fanfare, but fans quickly realised they had a gem on their hands when he scored four goals on his Coppa Italia debut in August. Piatek found the net in each of his first seven Serie A games and earned a €25m January transfer to Milan.
Highlight: Genoa 2-0 Juventus
Not only were Genoa the first side to take points off Juve in Serie A this season, they then became the first to defeat them in a shock 2-0 result at Marassi on March 17. The manner of the victory was even more improbable, as Stefano Sturaro made his comeback after seven months out with an Achilles injury and promptly scored a stunner against his old club. Goran Pandev, another substitute, finished the job in style.
Nightmare: Sanabria’s spot-kick
Cristian Romero nodded in a corner to cancel out Stephan El Shaarawy’s opener in stoppages, but Genoa incredibly earned the chance to beat Roma on May 5 and break away definitively from the relegation zone. Domenico Criscito was meant to be the penalty taker, but Antonio Sanabria insisted on taking the ball. When his weak effort was saved by Antonio Mirante, the sense of resentment and irritation could never be shaken off.
Did You Know
- Apart from Krzysztof Piatek, who left in January, no player scored more than four goals for Genoa in Serie A this season.
- Genoa scored 21 per cent (eight out of 39) of their Serie A goals from corners.
- With only two away wins, it is the Grifone’s worst top flight tally since 1983-84.