After the midweek Europa League match, Juventus take on Genoa on the road on Sunday Night. Unfortunately, the Thursday game proved that Serie A is still Juventus’ main target (I’m referring in particular to the day off given to Barzagli and Bonucci) despite the large lead. Even though the starters will likely start, it won’t be a walk in the park at the Luigi Ferraris stadium.
Genoa currently sit in 11th position, basically in no man’s land: they are 12 points above the relegation zone and 8 point beneath an EL spot. They are floating, but I feel that every time we visit them, it ends being a very heated and controversial match. The environment will be for sure hot.
Gian Piero Gasperini has made an outstanding job so far. He returned at Grifone on September 29 and turned a shaky franchise (they finished 17th for two years in a row) into a solid, self-confident team, with a clear (well, supposed to be clear) idea of football. He has collected seven wins, seven draws and five losses in his current tenure. Let’s not forget that he led the team to a whopping 5th position in 2008-2009. Despite flopping big time elsewhere, Gasperini seems to be in his element at Genoa.
His football is unconventional. His idea is that all the players must take part in the build-up of the actions, including the defenders. He usually starts with a 3-4-3, but often there is only one true CB on the pitch who anchors the defense. Antonini and Marchese were adapted as RCB and LCB for most part of the season.
The left flanks is Genoa’s forte: in some matches, they fielded three LBs (Marchese, De Ceglie and Antonelli), creating a combination that is hard to contain. Genoa are very good in playing with width and crossing at a high volume. Thanks to Matuzalem’s resurgence, a player that Gasperini adores, they also use the long balls a lot, with Gilardino flirting with the offside line.
Gasperini is well known for enhancing the performances of his lone striker (Milito and especially Borriello are still thanking him) and with Gilardino is no different: 11 goals in 20 matches with the former Juventus U-21 team coach at the helm.
Since they usually play with a high defensive line, systematically using the offside trap, they suffer well-timed through balls and long balls when the opponent manage to make the right movement and stay onside.
There are some doubts regarding the lineup. The talented Perin will start on goal, the danger of him pulling off a hero performance is always around the corner. A lot depends on the recovery of Antonini, if he can make it, he might play as RCB or as a RWB. Otherwise, De Maio and Portanova are contending for the first spot, while Motta would play as wingback.
In the middle, Bertolacci and Matuzalem have developed quite a chemistry, with the first being more offensive (watch out for his outside shooting) and second sitting deeply and distributing the ball (and occasionally hammering opponents down with dirty tackles).
On offense, the energetic Konate will play on the right: he has recently found his first goal in Serie A, with Gilardino of course in the middle. For the left flank, Gasperini has three options: Antonelli as LWB and the veteran Sculli or the annoying Fetfatzidis as LW, or De Ceglie as LWB and Antonelli as LW. I won’t be surprised to see the second, more cautious option. Genoa have the ability of switching to 4-3-3 at ease, inserting the youngster Sturaro in the midfield or simply shuffling things. There are some reports stating that Gasp might streghten the midfield, sacrificizing Konate and pairing upfront Gila and Sculli.
Genoa didn’t play a good match at Juventus stadium, losing 2-0 and being very passive. On Sunday, Gasperini counts on “showing the many progresses we have made so far.”