Season preview: Genoa – Consistency the key

Last season: Genoa 2010-11 season review
The squad: Inconsistency on and off the field hurt Genoa last season and they will need to gel quickly if they want to be in the hunt for a European spot. As has usually been the case during Enrico Preziosi’s reign, the port-city club turn over a number of players during the summer transfer window, with 2011/12 starting no differently.
New Coach Alberto Malesani has lost key players from last season’s squad but the club has moved quickly to replace them, bringing in players who look to be suited to Malesani’s desired style of football.
Goalkeeper Eduardo has joined Benfica, but his replacement has proven Serie A pedigree in Sebastien Frey, who was surplus to requirements at Fiorentina.
Swedish international Andreas Granqvist adds experience and quality to the defence but the Grifoni will miss Italian international Domenico Criscito and Rafinha, despite his inconsistent campaign.
Genoa will hope to get the best out of Portuguese midfielder Miguel Veloso, who had a difficult first season in Italy. Kevin Constant is a tactically aware player who also adds a bundle of energy. They will miss the leadership and class of Omar Milanetto, who joined Padova after a falling out with the rossoblu faithful.
Antonio Floro Flores has rejoined Udinese after a fine spell in which he could not stop scoring, leaving Rodrigo Palacio to lead the attack. Joining the club is Ze Eduardo, who comes fresh from helping Santos to the Copa Libertadores title, plus Valter Birsa, an experienced Slovenian winger who has pace and skill on the ball.
Coach: Alberto Malesani – The coach said when he replaced Davide Ballardini he wants to entertain the fans and take the game to the opposition in a 3-4-3 formation.
Utilising this system will be a return to Gian Piero Gapserini’s shape so those who played under Gasperini will have a basic understanding of what the formation requires from them. For the new players it will take some time to adjust but Malesani has players at his disposal capable of making the formation work. He is a tactically astute coach, who can also work well as a motivating force.
At the back, Dainelli, Antonelli and new signing Granqvist are all comfortable on the ball, with the Swede also a goal-scorer, having netted 21 times for Groningen, including one from a 65 meter solo run.
Like Milanetto in the past, Veloso will look to create from deep and keep the ball moving. Captain Marco Rossi, despite his advancing years, displays a never-say-die attitude and will run all game, as can Constant, who knows how to get in good positions.
Palacio is capable of playing in the centre of the front three or out wide which can leave Ze Eduardo to lead the attack. Birsa will add natural width and versatility to the forward line.
Player to watch: Miguel Veloso – Following his move from Sporting Lisbon, Veloso struggled to adapt to life in Serie A and was not helped by a constant flow of injuries which meant he never settled in. Now with another pre-season under his belt this is his chance to show his qualities and become the creative force of the team.
Prediction: Consistency and stability could see Genoa push for a Europa League position.
Probable XI:

FREY

GRANQVIST – Dainelli – Antonelli

Rossi – Kucka – Veloso – CONSTANT

Palacio – ZE EDUARDO – BIRSA

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