Some strong performances from defenders in this week, but not many clean sheets Here is the top five.
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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The second international break, the first real one to be honest, arrives a month a half deep into the season and it usually allows some players to fully heal from early injuries, or even last year’s ones, giving the teams a small boost ahead of another busy stretch.
The most particular situation is Armando Izzo’s one: he was suspended for 18 months in April for match-fixing related charges from his time in Avellino, then the ban was cut short to 6 months because the allegations were substantially less severe. It looked like he could be pardoned with a month in advance, but he served the full sentence. Genoa’s defence has been shaky and could obviously use the help of a player who was on the edge of earning a call-up by Italy.
Juventus will have Claudio Marchisio back after a month-long specific program to strengthen the muscles around the knee he tore in April 2016: he has played only 62 minutes this season. Sami Khedira has featured a little more, but has been absent since late August: his status is a little murkier, but he is not that far from a full recovery. Their returns will give Massimiliano Allegri the option to use a three-man midfield. The Bianconeri will also soon welcome back Marko Pjaca from the ACL tear he suffered in late March: the attack is more crowded this season, but he will still be another weapon at their disposal.
Speaking of knee injuries, Inter’s Joao Cancelo sprained his MCL in late August: Danilo D’Ambrosio has been passable as right back, but the plan is to have two dynamic fullbacks like the former Valencia and Dalbert together to spice things up. Cancelo can also play as right winger, giving Luciano Spalletti more flexibility upfront. Emiliano Viviano is expected to be in full form pretty soon after a knee surgery in May: like most backup goalkeepers, Christian Puggioni is only reliable for short stints. Roma’s newcomer Rick Karsdorp went under the knife immediately after joining his new club to fix a meniscus injury and had some muscular setbacks afterwards: his availability will allow Eusebio Di Francesco to move Alessandro Florenzi around rather than using him only as a right back as Giallorossi are dealing with several absences in other areas. Bologna’s Cesar Falletti suffered a MCL and ankle sprain at the start of August: when he comes back, Roberto Donadoni could resume deploying the 4-2-3-1 he quickly abandoned because of lack of alternatives in the attacking midfielder position.
Roma are also awaiting the return of their prized summer acquisition: Patrick Schick, who has been on the shelf with hamstring problems. There is a lot of curiosity to see how the coach will integrate him in a tactic that has started to work very well, but does not include the striker’s natural role. Benevento anticipate having Amato Ciriretti back for the all-important game against Hellas Verona: he was their main creator last season and they have not got much from the right wingers they have used in his absence. They were able to use Marco D’Alessandro and Pietro Iemmello together for the first time against Inter and they showed some signs of life: they might actually be able to earn some points with the full frontline on the pitch.