Italian club Genoa have been the bolters of the Serie A in the last 12 months and they started this league season in style with 3 wins from 3 games, but lately things haven’t gone so smoothly.
Genoa, who narrowly missed UEFA Champions League qualification last term after finishing fifth in Serie A, lost key pair Thiago Motta and Diego Milito to Internazionale in the off-season but bolstered their squad with several guns.
Big name arrivals like Argentinean striker Hernan Crespo and Italian international goalkeeper Marco Amelia as well as Serie A stars like Houssine Kharja, Sergio Floccari and Domenico Criscito enthused the Genoa fans and after the club flew out of the blocks in 2009-2010, spirits were high.
But in their last 8 matches in all competitions they’ve won just once and lost a staggering six times.
The big defeats occurred in the last week with a comprehensive 5-0 mauling by Internazionale> at the Luigi Ferraris, backed up by a 3-0 loss in France against Lille in the Europa League.
Thus the weekend’s Serie A clash with battling Cagliari took on extra significance with Genoa boss Gian Piero Gasperini expecting a response.
But it didn’t happen as Genoa slumped to a 3-2 defeat, as Cagliari claimed their first home win of the Serie A season.
The result highlighted Genoa’s obvious dip in form as they slipped down to tenth after their bright start to the campaign.
Nevertheless, after the match, Gasperini didn’t take aim at his side but rather he bemoaned the referee’s performance.
He declared, “A Genoa victory would probably have been a fairer outcome this afternoon, but things unfortunately went differently.
“Had two top sides been playing against each other today, there would have been pandemonium at the way the match was officiated. Instead it was Cagliari against Genoa and therefore things are easily forgotten.”
It is likely Gasperini was frustrated over a controversial second yellow card handed to defender Emiliano Moretti late in the contest with scores tied. The referee’s decision seemed a case of mistaken identity or perhaps as a result of protests. But it seemed innocuous.
Gasperini added on Sunday, “We have played two bad games recently, but today I cannot fault my men for their performance. This afternoon the result doesn’t pay tribute to how we played out there.
“For sure we aren’t firing as well as we did last season but today we simply didn’t deserve to lose. It is understandable that following the extra burden of European football the victories are a little harder to come by.”
The form slump has led to claims in the Italian media that Genoa are in crisis, which club president Enrico Preziosi angrily denied during the week.
“We are not in crisis. I don’t know what that means. It would only be appropriate to talk about a crisis in case of a club or a team in complete disarray. That doesn’t go for us.
“I remain confident because we have the quality,” he continued. “Defeats always leave a bitter taste in the mouth. My presence is important in handling situations like this, it’s too easy when things go well. We will stand up again soon.”
Indeed, Genoa do still have plenty of quality on their books but there’s no ignoring their recent problems.
There has been a suggestion the team is struggling to find consistency and fluency in midfield as a result of a succession of injuries to midfielders.
Domenico Criscito, Bosko Jankovic, Marco Rossi, Ivan Juric and Giandomenico Mesto have all missed games through injury recently, while Moroccan gun Houssine Kharja will miss the next 6 months after sustained an ACL knee injury in training.
But Gasperini insists his team isn’t missing players, rather they are simply making mistakes which are costing them dearly.
But these mistakes will undoubtedly challenge the mentality of his players, particularly his defensive line who’ve struggled under pressure lately, with Marco Amelia committing a woeful goalkeeping error against Inter, while Emiliano Moretti and Salvatore Bocchetti have battled too. The latter was certainly taught a few lessons by Inter in the 5-0 thrashing.
Indeed, it won’t be easy for Genoa to instantly respond, by that’s what they’ll need to do if they are to reach their goals of Champions League qualification this season.
Many football fans had been hoping to see a new name in the top four in Serie A this term, but all indications suggest that new name won’t be Genoa.
In fact, their city rivals Sampdoria are the ones doing all the big-hitting as they sit in a lofty second position at this stage. Sampdoria’s success too, will hurt Genoa.
There’s no doubt there’s still a long way to go, but there’s plenty of work to be done by Genoa. The wheels haven’t quite fallen off as their performance at Cagliari on the weekend wasn’t poor but they still lost.
But quite simply, Gasperini has to get his side winning again as soon as possible.