Genoa Club Focus: One of Serie A’s Best Midfields
Sunday night’s win against Sampdoria in the Derby della Lanterna showed exactly what was missing in Genoa’s two loses in Serie A this season: Matuzalem.
Though most think of the Brazilian midfielder as a thug, he wouldn’t be out of place as a drug dealer on The Wire, Breaking Bad or Miami Vice, Matuzalem has been outstanding since his arrival last January. He was one of the contributing factors to Genoa’s survival last term along with Marco Borriello‘ goals and the then coach.
On Sunday, Matuzalem was joined by the extremely underrated Davide Biondini, who mirrored the Brazilian’s work rate on the night. The two engines ran the Genoa midfield and ran Sampdoria out of the Marassi.
His loan to Atalanta last term was one of the more boneheaded moves by Genoa in 2012, and until Matuzalem arrived, the club lacked bite in midfield. Biondini’s absence last season showed as Genoa leaked goal after goal until late January when Matuzalem signed.
The two grafters perfectly protected midfield maestro Francesco Lodi, who until Sunday had looked less like a possible Azzurri man and more like, well, a Genoa player. Lodi’s gorgeous free-kick goal capped off a dream night for the Grifone, and made the club look completely different than in their two previous games.
Matuzalem’s return and Biondini’s place in the side saw the dropping of two players that seemed near undroppable. Juraj Kucka, the man that is perpetually going from one crisis of form to another, was joined by Italy under-21 wonderkid Andrea Bertolacci. The benching of both players could be seen as a coach removing two players that are not performing up to a high standard. However, the cynic may say their removal is more down to not taking Fabio Liverani’s tactics on board. Whatever it was, the two may not see much time in the coming weeks after a superb night by the three that dominated their city rivals.
Liverani was panned by all after the club’s losses to Inter and Fiorentina and was expected to lose his job after the derby’s conclusion. But his change to a 3-5-2, like what Genoa played in the second half of last season, was a brilliant move. It accentuated the club’s strengths, playing with two strikers, clogging the midfield and playing with two wing-backs that can run all night (or until Luca Antonini gets injured.)
It was a formation that Genoa excelled in, and having Biondini and Matuzalem to win the ball and make expert passes show a team that has more to offer than just a few short weeks ago.
On paper, it can be argued Genoa have one of the better midfields in Serie A, possibly top five. Though there are plenty that won’t agree with that statement.
Genoa are not out of the woods, however. More closely, Liverani is the one not out of the woods. Genoa have two tricky fixtures upcoming. The first is against the recently promoted Livorno who have surprised many by obtaining six points from a possible nine. If Liverani can navigate through those waters, he will lead Genoa into Udine for a midweek match up against Udinese.
Two wins and Genoa’s season could be on an upward trajectory, two losses and Genoa’s world will be turned upside down again. Most importantly for Liverani, a loss to Livorno could see him out the door. But after Sunday’s win, he deserves a chance; more of one than he did a week ago.
Liverani deserves time to get it right, this club focus’ continued theme has always been consistency, and keeping the former Lazio man as coach is what the Grifone need. It’s what the team need for now. Give him a chance Preziosi, please.