There were three candidates for team of the week in the last Serie A, with Torino and Juventus scoring multiple goals and keeping the clean sheet, but the shout-out goes to Atalanta, which did it on the road, with a larger result than the Bianconeri and against a tougher opponent than Benevento.
The Stadio Luigi Ferraris offers no place to hide. Its benches located opposite to the tunnel, the only option is to face the music. For Gian Piero Gasperini the tune was sombre as he trudged, despairingly, having seen his side fall just short in the Derby della Lanterna.
“Am I at risk?” Gasperini considered in the post-match interviews. “It’s not for me to say.” But it’s a fair question. Genoa’s loss against city rivals Sampdoria was their third Derby defeat in the past four. It was also a fifth loss in succession, six when including the humiliating Coppa Italia elimination against third tier Alessandria. The defeat left Genoa straddling the relegation zone. “Clearly that is an alarm bell,” he accepted.
However, there was something in the Grifoni in their near-comeback which suggested the situation can be rectified. Gasperini implored that his side “never stopped playing” as they very nearly turned a three goal deficit into a dramatic draw.
Genoa went into the Round 18 clash with the joint second worst attack, notching only 15 strikes. Yet Leonardo Pavoletti continued his purple patch amid the recent gloom, almost single-handedly dragging the Rossoblu back into the contest with his late brace. It took his League tally to seven in only ten appearances.
It’s no secret Genoa are on the hunt for attacking options this January. Suso made his debut – as did midfielder Luca Rigoni – having arrived on loan from Milan. The Grifoni have also been linked with loan deals for Giuseppe Rossi, Alessio Cerci and ex-player Stephan El Shaarawy. Shorn of their top three strikers from last season, it was always going to be tough. Perhaps this month they can rectify the situation.
Gasperini, who led Genoa to sixth last term, may even have left smiling had Darko Lazovic not spurned a gilt-edged chance. Down 3-1 at the time, it proved a costly miss. As did the earlier error which allowed Roberto Soriano to open the scoring. As the tactician later said, his side are paying the price for errors and being forced to fight back too often.
Oddly enough it’s the manner of the defeat which offers hope. Genoa can build on the spirit shown and then use the transfer market to see them steer clear of relegation danger and Gasperini the wrath of President Enrico Preziosi. But with such poor recent form, Genoa must act quickly.