Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 31

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Once again the conditions of some of Serie A’s top players need to be monitored entering the next round.

Juventus: Andrea Barzagli suffered an abdominal injury against Real Madrid and he could miss one or two weeks. Federico Bernardeschi is again not in the squad list, even though he is close.

Napoli: Raul Albiol and Jorginho are suspended and Faouzi Ghoulam is out with a fibula fracture. Lorenzo Tonelli is a little banged up, while Vlad Chiriches was called up last week after a six-week absence due to a hamstring injury.

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Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 25

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There are a pair of key injured players to keep an eye on ahead of the next Serie A round.

Napoli:  Marek Hamsik was subbed off at halftime last week because of some back pain, but he played in Europa League. Raul Albiol missed the last three games because of muscle fatigue, but he could return on Sunday. On the other hand, Vlad Chiriches will be sidelined for a couple of weeks by a pulled hamstring. Arek Milik is progressing in his rehab protocol, but Faouzi Ghoulam had a big setback, even though unrelated to the previous ACL tear: he fractured his patella and had to undergo surgery; per the club statement, he will resume practicing in a month and it will be awhile before he plays in an official game. Continue reading

Genoa president reloads and sticks with Juric

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Before the last match, Milan Juric appeared to be on the hottest seat among the coaches whose job is in danger. Genoa lost to Bologna at home, but Juric was not sacked despite the break, which could have helped a newcomer. A decision that has a lot to do with the developments related to the corporate side of the club and with the lack of an extremely convincing alternative. The president Enrico Preziosi talked to the leaders of the locker room, who backed Juric. Replacing him with Andrea Mandorlini did not work last February.

Two weeks ago, the owner was on the verge of selling the club to the SRI group of the entrepreneur Giulio Gallazzi, but the four-month negotiation fell through at the last second over the finishing details. Preziosi is still looking for new investors and has signed with an advisor, while a third-party is making the due diligence: he is pretty much shopping the team around, but this stuff takes time. In such a situation, it is inevitable that the sporting side could fall into the background.

In the meantime, Preziosi has opted to hire Giorgio Perinetti as general manager. His arrival was halted by the potential sale, but the statements by the parties involved made it clear that this had been in the works for a while. Since February, Genoa operated with long-time head of the youth system Mario Donatelli has sporting director. Perinetti has great experience: before supporting Joe Tacopina in his attempt to bring Venezia back to relevancy, he spent time with Roma, Napoli and Juventus and was the main guy at Siena, Palermo and Bari.

After surviving, Juric now needs to produce. The Griffon has collected only two points so far and has yet to win a game. They have not been able to take full advantage of the easier fixtures against Sassuolo, Chievo Verona and Bologna and paradoxically they have fared better, but still came up short, in the tough games with Juventus, Lazio and Inter. As Perinetti put it, they are in a crisis from the results standpoint, but they are playing decently.

Their defence has not been good and their offense has not been consistent: a combination that does not take you very far. Against Cagliari, they will be able to field Armando Izzo, by far their best centre-back, as his six-month ban is over. Juric has tried every combination between Davide Biraschi, Luca Rossettini, Nicolas Spolli, Ervin Zukanovic and Santiago Gentiletti. The pillars he needs to rely on are Izzo and Zukanovic, who should also be tried in the central spot of the three-man backline, where Rossettini’s play has been uneven. Gentiletti has been abysmal so far, Biraschi has been up and down but has room to grow.

Pietro Pellegri has started off brilliantly but then it became clear that he is still raw and can not sustain the attack on his own. Andrej Galabinov is a little too allergic to scoring to be a regular starter in Serie A, but Gianluca Lapadula is expected to return soon and will help them in that department. The coach is also reportedly ready to move from 3-4-3 to 3-5-1-1 to make the formation stouter. A slimmed down Adel Taarabt has been a spark on the left wing and he can play as no.10 as well, while they have not got much from the third attacker, whether it was the promising Federico Ricci, Goran Pandev, Raffaele Palladino or Ricardo Centurion. A three-man midfield would feature Luca Rigoni, who was inexplicably banished but has the kind of experience that is vital in the relegation race, or one of the interesting youngsters Stephane Omeonga or Petar Brlek, alongside the staples Miguel Veloso and Andrea Bertolacci.

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Lapadula’s unfortunate injury woes hit Genoa hard

Genoa CFC v Juventus - Serie A

It is fair to say that Gianluca Lapadula’s stint at Genoa is not going as planned. He was their marquee signing this summer: the Grifone will pay up to €13M to get him, on a loan with obligation to buy, and locked him in a five-year contract, hoping that he will be able to replace the contribution of Leonardo Pavoletti. However, he has been sidelined for most of the time so far and will be out for the foreseeable future. The striker is coming off a decent season at Milan, where he netted eight goals in 27 appearances, mostly off the bench.

Lapadula had a scoring average of a goal every 170 minutes at Milan, which would be extremely helpful for Rossoblù. The Turin-born centre-forward proved in Serie B and Serie C that he can be very prolific: a late bloomer, he scored 21 times with Teramo in 2014/2015 and 27 times with Pescara in 2016/2017, before Rossoneri won the bidding war for him, but never trusted him as a regular starter.

Genoa has always been a striker-friendly club, but injuries have prevented Lapadula from making his contribution. He was already dealing with the ever-annoying plantar fasciitis when he was signed, but the team pulled the trigger anyway. He missed the whole summer and most of the first two games. In the third one, in his first start against Udinese, he had to be subbed off early after an awkward landing on the left knee and further tests revealed an MCL tear that will keep him out for at least a month in a very busy stretch of the schedule.

Milan Juric will have to turn to the alternatives for the time being, but none of them has the same potential as Lapadula. Andrej Galabinov held his own so far: a Serie B lifer, he is a very physical striker who plays well with the rest of his teammates, but he has never been able to tally more than 15 goals in the second league. 16-year-old wonderkid Pietro Pellegri, who scored in his first start last season, has spent most of the summer on the shelf and now has some catching up to do from the physical standpoint.

They did sign two interesting attackers in the final days of the transfer market window: Ricardo Centurion and Federico Ricci. Juric already coached the former Sassuolo winger at Crotone, with good profit. Alongside the slimmed down Adel Taarabt, the trio can give the coach enough depth to use the experienced Goran Pandev as false-nine. The Macedonian forward has never been too consistent, but he has had his moments over the years. According to some reports, Milan Juric is already on the hot seat after collecting only one point in three matches, so he will have to turn the ship around without his main weapon.

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