Serie A Preview – Genoa Aims for European Success
Italy’s oldest soccer club finished a disappointing ninth last season, and the management has made it clear this offseason that such a result is unacceptable. Disappointing play by a number of key players left the club outside the top six, one year after qualifying for the UEFA Cup and two years after returning to Serie A after a long climb up the Italian leagues. As is his style, club president Enrico Preziosi aggressively spent money this offseason, acquiring a list of talented players that he expects to lead his team back to the top six in Serie A. With one of the best managers in Italy, anything less would be a disappointment for the Griffin.
The Transfer Market: If Genoa does qualify for a European tournament next spring, the genesis of that success can be seen in July 2010. During the summer, the club brought in and sent out a number of players, with the end result being a balanced and competitive club.
A perfect example of this philosophy is the keeper position: Genoa spent the entire summer looking for a top-notch keeper, at times pursuing Chievo’s Sorrentino and Cagliari’s Marchetti. Finally, they bought Eduardo from Sporting Braga and sent Marco Amelia to AC Milan, and if Eduardo plays as well as he did in the World Cup for Portugal, this will be the signing of the summer. Genoa also followed Roma’s path from last season and signed Luca Toni to give them a tall attacking option in the middle. Backing him up is Mattia Destro, an eighteen year old on loan from Inter who has scored 21 goals in 29 matches for various Italian youth national teams!
A key player added for depth and the future is attacking midfielder Franco Zuculini, who is on loan from Hoffheim. The young Argentine had one goal in seven appearances as a nineteen year old in Bundesliga, and started for Racing Club at age eighteen. While he will likely begin the season on the bench, he is the type of key reserve that will be the difference for Genoa this season – a player talented enough to fill in and contribute if an injury occurs.
Rumors continue to surround the club, with the latest reports that it is still in the running for World Cup star Kevin Prince-Boateng and Tottenham Hotspur’s Giovani Dos Santos (although that rumor is being denied).
Key Players: If Genoa wants to make a run at a European tournament, it has to improve its defense – the rossoblu allowed 61 goals last season. Along with Eduardo, the club added Andrea Ranocchia (on loan from Inter) to bolster the defense. Look for Ranocchia to partner with Italian national team member Domenico Criscito and Rafinha (Schalke 04), but also in the mix are Dario Dainelli (Fiorentina), Salvatore Bocchetti, and a host of other players who have starting experience in major leagues.
In the middle will be captain Marco Rossi and new signed Miguel Veloso. The Portuguese holding midfielder/defender was in high demand this offseason, but the Griffin pried him from his home country by trading money and Alberto Zapater to Sporting Lisbon.
Expect Luca Toni to start in the middle of the 3-4-3 and provide a physical presence for the Genoa attack. On his flank could be returning forward Robert Acquafresca, who spent some time the past few seasons being traded to and from Genoa. Also likely starting is Rodrigo Palacio, who had partnered with the departed Hernan Crespo to form a potent attack.
Outlook: This team has invested heavily in the transfer market (and may continue to do so) with the goal of getting a European tournament spot. Defensively this team is greatly improved and the flexibility of the players they obtained will help Eduardo reduce the number of goals allowed this season. The club last season had balanced scoring, and you can expect the same this year as a number of players on their roster have the ability to score. This team has the talent and leadership to qualify for the Europa Cup OR the final Champions League position, but a top three finish may be out of their reach.