In a long championship, while winning at home is imperative, solid results on the road can be the catalyst for a successful campaign. Udinese’s incredible charge up the ladder in the second half of 2010/11 occurred with just two defeats away from the Stadio Friuli. Away consistency keeps the points tally ticking over. The dilemma of translating home supremacy on the road has been a major issue for both Palermo and Genoa this season.
Despite the worst away record in Serie A (no wins, four points), Palermo remain on the cusp of Europe. The contrast between home and away form could not be starker. Nine wins compared to zero. 26 goals scored to seven and 14 conceded compared to 20. The contrast was often mentioned during Devis Mangia’s reign and it in part caused his dismissal. However, Bortolo Mutti’s introduction did not buck the trend.
Beyond the stats and figures is the style of football. Palermo appears tame and unimaginative in away matches. Only once have they looked akin to their home self, the recent 4-4 thriller with Inter. Mangia-era losses against Milan and Juventus are testament. Could it go down as a young Coach afraid? Under Mutti – an experienced tactician – they have still offered little, such as the Chievo loss and draw versus Novara, where they were peppered by the hosts and lost a two-goal advantage.
President Maurizio Zamparini said there is a “problem of attitude” on the road and after the 0-0 draw at Parma in December, Eros Pisano told Sky: “Sometimes we lack the same determination and same drive we have at home.”
Tactically, Mutti tends to line up in a 4-3-1-2. Not helped by constant shuffling due to injury, too often his strikers are isolated and without Fabrizio Miccoli, Josip Ilicic or Eran Zahavi being involved, the midfield is not creative enough. In the Sicilian derby, the leading five pass-makers were Rosanero but the strikers saw little of the ball and they had five shots to Catania’s 16.
Genoa are another to mix wonderful home form with an alter ego personality away (two wins, one draw, eight losses). Genoa’s main issue stems from their (lack of) defence. Since taking over from Alberto Malesani at Christmas, Pasquale Marino’s side has won all three home matches but lost a trio of road trips. 12 goals have been conceded and if Malesani’s last match in charge is included, that figure rises to 18.
Having another eight away matches to play, Genoa could fall dangerously close to Ancona’s all-time record of 14 away losses in a season. Messina hold the record for consecutive away fixtures without a clean sheet, set at 30 between 2005-2007, but a 2-0 win at Siena in December meant Genoa halted their crack at that unwanted record. They have conceded ten times out of eleven on the road.
Despite their leaky defence, the issue does not seem to be addressed. Reliable defender Dario Dainelli was loaned to Chievo in January and in came Roger Carvalho, a player new to Serie A. In attempting to make a quick profit on their assets, Genoa throws stability out the window. That cannot help Marino. Nor does his bombarding style and a defence which contains attack-minded central defender Andreas Granqvist and two advancing fullbacks. Veteran Kakha Kaladze has the experience but not the physical capacity to lead a defence seemingly on his lonesome.
Marino is aware of the concerns and during the build-up to their latest capitulation, at Catania, he noted: “We need to take a step forward when it comes to our away games, although there have been recent improvements. We’ve got to find ourselves an important performance away from home too.”
The issues these clubs carry is hard to believe when taking their league position into consideration. While Siena are also winless and both Novara and Cesena have similar records to Genoa, the difference is that trio are all fighting relegation. It is proof of Palermo and Genoa’s strong home form that both hover behind the European places; however it is a goal neither can expect to reach unless the away taboo is conquered.