Of all the opening weekend fixtures in Serie A, Genoa vs. Roma promises to be the most intriguing. The Stadio Luigi Ferraris plays host to the battle of two teams with legitimate Champions League ambitions. Genoa, Italy’s oldest club, were excruciatingly close to making their debut in Europe’s premier club competition, one point the difference between fourth, and their eventual fifth placed position. While life without the influential South American duo of Thiago Motta and Diego Milito will no doubt take some getting used to, Coach Gian Piero Gasperini has been quick to repair Genoa’s damaged frontline. Although Genoa exceeded most pre-season expectations, the same cannot be said for the capital club. After back to back to back Scudetto challenges, the Giallorossi faithful will have been disappointed with their sides sixth place finish which will see second tier European action return to the Olimpico for the first time in several years.
The additions of Boca Juniors striker Rodrigo Palacio, and experienced hit-man Hernán Crespo, have reinforced Genoa’s attack. The Argentine icon will take a back seat to Palacio, the returning Sergio Floccari and the emerging talent of Raffaele Palladino. The midfield combination of Houssine Kharja and Ivan Jurić will be the driving force of the side, and Giandomenico Mesto and Domenic Criscito will be called upon to get the ball in the box from out wide. Salvatore Bocchetti, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Giuseppe Biava make up the defence. The arrival of Palermo and Azzurri goalkeeper Marco Amelia, the replacement for the reliable Rubinho, will round off Gasperini’s favoured 3-4-3 system.
25 Biava – 15 Papastathopoulos – 26 Bocchetti
20 Mesto – 5 Kharja – 28 Jurić – 4 Criscito
8 Palacio – 33 Floccari – 10 Palladino
Luciano Spalletti is not likely to make too many changes from the side hat thrashed KAA Gent 10-2 over two legs in the Europa League qualifying round, and will probably maintain his tried and tested 4-2-3-1. Guilherme Moraes Artur will keep his place in goal, replacing the injured Doni. The experienced Brazilian is still struggling with a knee ligament injury. Attacking full-backs John Arne Riise and Marco Motta will add an extra attacking dynamic. Max Tonetto and the ever reliable Philippe Mexès will form a solid central defensive partnership. Rodrigo Taddei and Matteo Brighi will provide the width for the Olimpico side. David Pizarro and Rome-born Daniele De Rossi will form a formidable midfield partnership, capable of stopping Genoa attacks and turning them into Giallorossi offence. Roma legend Francesco Totti will begin his sixteenth full Serie A season playing slightly infront of the unique Brazilian forward, Júlio Baptista.
13 Motta – 22 Tonetto – 5 Mexès – 17 Riise
7 Pizarro – 16 De Rossi
33 Brighi – 19 Baptista – 11 Taddei
Last September it was Genoa who triumphed in this fixture, cruising to a 3-1 victory, however it was the now departed Diego Milito who grabbed the winning goals for the Rossoblu. It remains to be seen if Palacio or even Crespo can replace the goals that Milito scored so freely last season. Both sides have points to prove, Roma will be out to show their fans that last season’s dismal sixth place was nothing more than a mere hiccup on their route to challenging for the Scudetto on a consistent basis. Conversely, Genoa will want to prove that their season was not a one-off, and that they can become regular European contenders. After an amazing season last year, Gasperini’s men will hope to maintain such high standards and meet the expectations of their fans.