Genoa Club Focus: Delneri gets his first win
On the day, Genoa’s performance was very similar to the ones they gave earlier this season: Get a goal and hold on with timely defending. The club secured their fourth clean sheet of the season which leaves them two shy of their six clean sheets from a year ago when the team gave up a Serie A high 69 goals.
But while Genoa’s defence was good on the day, it was the team’s attack that looked light in front of goal. Andrea Bertolacci, rewarded for his excellent second half performance against Sampdoria the previous week, got the game’s solitary goal. Bertolacci has looked good in spurts this season, and his first half goal was well taken on the counter attack.
To Delneri’s credit, the team came out and played very well on the day and he finally got his team selection right after a month in the job. The re-introduction of summer signing Michele Canini was a masterstroke as Cesare Bovo has been increasingly poor this season.
Having a fit Marco Borriello has also helped Delneri’s side, too. Though he hasn’t scored since his injury against Roma, the Italian’s hold-up play has been good; and his aerial ability is highly underrated. Delneri finally decided against playing both Borriello and Ciro Immobile together, selecting Bertolacci to play off the lone striker as the playmaker. The 21-year old can hopefully build off his consecutive performances.
Perhaps worrying for Genoa supporters, was Delneri’s insistency to play defensively from the 56th minute on. He first removed Juan Manuel Vargas in favor of Marco Rossi and followed with another defensive move by bringing on Felipe Seymour for Bertolacci nine minutes later.
Now off the foot of the table and out of the relegation zone, Genoa will see out 2012 with matches against Pescara, Chievo, Torino and Inter. Two of those four clubs sit below Genoa in the table while Torino are only three points better off.
But as Genoa now have something to build off, it may not be long until there is more upheaval at the Marassi. The January mercato is only weeks away, and amid fan unrest over Delneri and owner Enrico Preziosi, it has been announced the club will spend again in hopes of preventing relegation.
Firstly, the club may allow attacking midfielder Alexander Merkel to leave for Lazio in a swap deal for Matuzalem and Giuseppe Sculli could be added to the deal. There are more rumors Merkel could be set for a move to Russia with Zenit St. Petersburg.
Secondly, defender Andreas Granqvist is rumored to be heading to London with QPR. Granqvist has been solid for Genoa this season and it would be a major blow to the club’s defence. Finally, Genoa have been rumored with Lazio misfit Mauro Zarate, though the Argentine maybe on his way out of Serie A all together.
None of these really make much sense and are only stop-gap moves. Matuzalem could be the creative spark Genoa need, however, Merkel hasn’t been given the time to show what he can do this season. Merkel was fantastic a year ago before joining AC Milan in January.
Sculli did help Genoa stay up a season ago, and he is quite versatile, but Genoa already have plenty of players that can play similar roles to Sculli. In regards to Zarate, the Argentine has never fulfilled expectations since arriving in Europe in 2008 and is one of – if not the most – overrated players in Italy.
Against Atalanta, Genoa showed they aren’t the worst team in Serie A. But the club will need more performances and luck like they had over the weekend to survive the drop. The team will also need more consistency from survive again this year.
Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @CalcioFarmer, Drew also hosts the Forzaitalianfootball.com weekly Club Focus podcast and writes his own personal football and travel blog at Excellent Adventure/Bogus Journey.