2008/09 – Take into consideration that in the 2005/06 season, Genoa were playing in the third division of Italian football – Serie C1 – and add to that the limited budget the club operates on. Then one can clearly comprehend the magnificent season Genoa had. Fighting for a Champions’ League spot right till the end, many would say that il Grifone have overachieved this season. Not many clubs in top echelons of football can manage this feat while playing attractive, attacking football. Diego Milito proved to be a revelation this season and helped Genoa to a fifth spot finish behind the usual powerhouses of Serie A.
2009/10 – The departure of three first-team players in the form of Milito, Thiago Motta and Matteo Ferrari will hurt the Rossoblu badly. Lots of changes have occurred over the summer and we may see a completely new forward line in action. Although reinforcements have been added in every department, Coach Gian Piero Gasperini admitted that they should have done better in the transfer market. But there is no doubt that Genoa will continue to play mesmerizing football and will be a tough opponent in Italy as well as Europe. The prospect of European glory does not seem a remote fantasy this season.
Transfer campaign – Genoa have had a busy transfer campaign with players going in and out. The departure of Diego Milito was expected but quite peaceful and harmonious. Milito and Motta had to be sold to Inter since the club has limited budget and the offer of cash along with bargaining chips in the form of young players will help them in future. The additions of Hernan Crespo, Sergio Floccari and Rodrigo Palacio have strengthened the forward line. It will be interesting to see how Palacio in particular develops under Gasperini. Acquafresca was brought in from Inter through the Milito deal but was immediately loaned out to Atalanta, presumably due to abundance of forwards. The departure of Ferrari will be made up by the arrival of young and highly versatile Nenad Tomovic and the emergence of Sokratis Papastathopoulos. The usually reliable goalkeeper Rubinho was swapped with la Nazionale’s second choice goalkeeper Marco Amelia.
Sergio Floccari – Atalanta – €11m
Hernan Crespo – Inter – Free Transfer
Robert Acquafresca – Inter – Included in Milito Deal
Francesco Bolzoni – Inter – Included in Motta Deal
Leonardo Bonucci – Inter – Included in Motta Deal
Riccardo Meggiorini – Inter – Included in Motta Deal
Bosco Jankovic – Palermo – Undisclosed
Nenad Tomovic – Red Star Belgrade – €1.7m
Marco Amelia – Palermo – Swap with Rubinho
Houssine Kharja – Siena – €5m
Andrea Ranocchia – Arezzo – €2m
Rodrigo Palacio – Boca Juniors – €5m
Emiliano Moretti – Valencia – €4m
Magnus Troest – Parma – €900,000
Ivan Fatic – Chievo Verona – Undisclosed
Alberto Zapater – Zaragoza – €4.5m
Andrea Esposito – Lecce – Undisclosed
Diego Milito – Inter – €22
Thiago Motta – Inter – €18
Riccardo Meggiorini – Bari – Co-ownership Resolution
Leonardo Bonucci – Bari – Co-ownership Resolution
Matteo Paro – Bari – Co-ownership Resolution
Giuseppe Greco – Bari – Loan
Andrea Ranocchia – Bari – Loan
Davide Di Gennaro – Milan – Undisclosed
Gianluca Pegolo – Siena – Undisclosed
Salvatore Aurelio – Frosinone – Co-ownership Resolution
Eugenio Lamanna – Gubbio – Loan
Robert Acquafresca – Atlanta – Loan
Rubinho – Palermo – Swap with Amelia, no cash
Matteo Ferrari – Besiktas – €6m
Vincenzo Rennella – Grasshopper – Loan
Steve Pinau – Lugano – Loan
Salim Ben Djemia – Padova – Loan
Francesco Renzetti – Padova – Co-ownership Resolution
Mariano Stendardo – Salernitana – Loan
Fernando Forestieri – Udinese – Co-ownership Resolution
Setfano Botta – Vicenza – Undisclosed
First XI – Crespo is past his prime and it is unlikely he will start games week in and week out. On the other hand, Floccari is at his peak and will partner Palacio and the ever-improving Raffaele Palladino in a trident attack. Papastathopoulos has already made 21 appearances last season and will probably replace Ferrari instead of the new acquisition Tomovic. Giandomenico Mesto and Domenico Criscito will provide the width, whereas Houssine Kharja and Ivan Juric will form the engine room of the team. Alternately, in a 4-3-3 setup, Criscito and Salvatore Bocchetti will assume the role of right-back and right-back, respectively and Bosco Jankovic will be deployed in midfield.
25 Biava – l5 Papastathopoulos – 26 Bocchetti
20 Mesto – 5 Kharja – 28 Juric – 4 Criscito
44 Palacio – 18 Floccari – 10 Palladino
The Coach – Gian Piero Gasperini’s impact on Genoa as head coach during the last three years has been phenomenal. After being considered as a favorite to succeed Claudio Ranieri at Juventus, he has now officially extended his contract with Genoa. The man was unanimously voted Football Italiano’s Coach of the Year for 2009/10, and his attacking brand of football in a 3-4-3 formation has earned plaudits worldwide. Although the transfer campaign has not been up to his satisfaction, there is no doubt he will make the best out of the given squad. Gasperini works closely with his players and is quite popular amongst them. Crespo, on completion of his move to Genoa remarked that Gasperini is a Coach who actually teaches football and is eager to work with him. He will therefore play a key role in the development of Palacio on his way to becoming world-class player.
Team/reliable player – With Milito grabbing all the headlines, Domenico Criscito continued to work silently and efficiently on the left side of Genoa defense all throughout the year. Having started his youth as well as senior career at Genoa itself, he has proven himself to be a highly versatile, talented defender. His pace down the left flank as full-back or wing-back has provided an extra dimension to the Genoa attack all season, whilst his technique and positioning sense make him an excellent defender. Last season, he also chipped in his share of useful goals, most notably the last-minute winner against Palermo in February. Securing his services on a permanent basis from Juventus was an extremely good move by Genoa.
Creative force – The name of Rodrigo Palacio was on everyone’s lips after his scintillating displays against Milan in the final of FIFA Club World Cup in 2007. His equalizing header was just an appetizer as Palacio displayed his full array of on-the-ball capabilities. He has been the star of Boca Juniors for the past couple of seasons and he runs at defenders with great speed and typical South American-style dribbling which will cause defenders lots of problems. Palacio will slot in perfectly as a wing forward in the trident attack setup and will be the creative force of Genoa over coming years.
Youth prospect – Sokratis Papastathopoulos must be an unheard name for most Calcio fans but he is the next big defensive talent in Greek football. Naturally a centre-back, Papastathopoulos has also been deployed as a right-back with great results. He got his first start in Genoa’s away match to Fiorentina and kept Mutu quiet. Playing away to Inter, he put in a good performance to prevent Inter from scoring, even though the Nerazzurri were directing their attacks towards him. Although a bit inexperienced, his calm defensive performances have already earned comparisons with Tony Adams and legendary Greek defender Stelios Manolas.
The fixtures – Last year, Genoa could not take advantage of an easier fixture towards the end of season as compared to Fiorentina. This year too, the fight for the Champions League or Europa League spot will be decided towards the season’s end. With that in mind, the Rossoblu’s home match against Milan will be crucial. Even before this match, their fixture-list is far from comfortable. Following away matches against Sampdoria and Parma, they will need to play a dangerous Lazio side at home. The away match against la Viola in mid-March could be decisive given that both sides were competing for the final Champions League spot last season.
Oct 18, 2009 – Genoa-Inter (right before Matchday 3 of Group stage of Europa League)
Dec 13, 2009 – Lazio-Genoa (right before Matchday 5 of Group stage of Europa League)
Feb 21, 2010 – Genoa-Udinese (Round of 32 legs on either sides)
Mar 21, 2010 – Fiorentina-Genoa
Apr 11, 2010 – Sampdoria-Genoa
May 9, 2010 – Genoa-Milan
Home grown players – Out of 27 first team players, Genoa have 17 Italians. That works out to 62.96% of homegrown players.
Predictions – Many are of the opinion that Genoa overachieved last season. A complicated transfer season has seen a lot of reshuffling at the club. The departure of three first-team players will certainly weaken them. So it would not be possible for the Rossoblu to break into the top four. However, the likes of Roma, Palermo and Udinese have not significantly strengthened themselves over the summer transfer window. This will work to Genoa’s advantage and they should be able to retain the Europa League spot, i.e. finish fifth or sixth in the league. There are lots of new players in the squad but Gasperini will be able to hold the team together. In Europe Genoa admittedly has an easy play-off tie against Odense and will surely progress to the Group Stage of the Europa League. Gasperini’s guidance will be a major factor and they should be able to progress to the knockout phase or even the quarter-finals of the newly formatted European competition. Prediction – 5th