Juventus
    Juventus
      29.10.2014 11:00 - in: Serie A S

      Genoa in the spotlight

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      Founded in 1893, the Grifone are the fourth most successful Italian club in terms of championships won (nine) and are currently managed by Gian Piero Gasperini

      Club

      Genoa were perhaps the dominant force in Italian football until the 1920s and remain the fourth most successful side in the history of its domestic league with nine titles, but they have struggled to reach similarly glorious heights since that golden era.

      Football was not originally the club’s main sport: towards the end of the 1800s, there were a lot of Englishmen in the port of Genoa after the opening of the Suez Canal, and seeing as many of them missed cricket - the game they loved back home - but didn’t have an outlet to play it, Charles Alfred Payton decided to set up his own club.

      And so, with the original operating headquarters in a local trattoria, what is now Genoa Cricket and Football Club was founded in 1893 as Genoa Cricket and Athletic Club.

      But it wasn’t until three years later that they began to focus on football, and James Richardson Spensley, a doctor arriving in Genoa to treat sailors and also a correspondent for the Daily Mail, was the man who brought that change about.

      The team were all ready to go with a patriotic white strip chosen by the Englishmen that made up the side, but the initial problem was a lack of opposition. The only other sides around at the time were four from Turin, but Genoa also played friendlies with teams of sailors arriving into the port.

      And they soon achieved success, winning the first ever Italian league championship in 1898, held as a one-day event at Turin’s Velodromo Umberto I. Genoa beat Ginnastica Torino in their first ever official game, and sealed the title win with a 3-1 extra-time victory over Internazionale Torino later that day.

      The side were unstoppable at the time, and went on to triumph in the following two consecutive seasons as well. Genoa then became the first Italian team to play a match abroad when they travelled to France to take on Nice and emerged as 3-0 winners.

      But this upward trajectory was brought to a tragic halt by the effects of The First World War, as five players and the influential early promoter of football, Spensley, were all killed.

      Yet they managed to remain strong contenders despite their losses, winning the title in 1923 and again in 1924.

      That one was to be their last, though, and the side’s form became steadily more erratic until they suffered their first relegation to Serie B in 1934 before winning their solitary Coppa Italia at the culmination of the 1936/37 campaign and continued to yo-yo between divisions until they went down to Serie C in 1970. 

      But after making it back to Serie A in 1989, they went on to finish in an extraordinary fourth place two years later after remaining undefeated at home for the whole season under manager Osvaldo Bagnoli, who had pulled off another shock to win the Scudetto with Hellas Verona. 

      Having gained qualification to the UEFA Cup with their league finish, they also managed a good run in that competition, making it to the semi-finals where they were knocked out by eventual winners Ajax. 

      Following that, though, their fortunes began to decline and the side went back to fluctuating between divisions until winning promotion in 2007 to Serie A, where they have been ever since. 

      Having escaped from the clutches of relegation by the narrowest of margins in both the 2011/12 and 2012/13 campaigns, they finished in a more respectable 14th position last time out.  

      Stadium

      Genoa play at the 36,536 capacity Stadio Luigi Ferraris, a ground which they have shared with inter-city rivals Sampdoria (with whom they contest the Derby della Lanterna) since 1946.   

      It is the oldest stadium in Italy still in use, having been inaugurated in 1911. Originally named Stadio Comunale di Via del Piano (and also known colloquially as the Stadio Marassi due to the area in which it is located), it took on the name of former Genoa captain Luigi Ferraris in 1933. 

      The stadium underwent its most recent renovations to coincide with the 1990 World Cup, during which it hosted four matches.  

      Transfer activity

      Genoa experienced somewhat of turnover in the summer in terms of transfers as they looked to push up into the higher reaches of Serie A. 

      Central defender Facundo Roncaglia – who can also play at right-back - has signed a season-long loan deal from Fiorentina. Nicknamed El Torito, the 27-year-old is known to be strong in the challenge and is adept in the air too.  

      Well-travelled Leandro Greco has joined Genoa on a free transfer after plying his trade with Livorno last time out. The 28-year-old has played for no fewer than six Italian sides, as well as the Bianconeri’s Champions League Group A rivals Olympiacos, since making his debut 11 years ago. 

      Former Bianconeri winger Iago Falque, who spent the majority of his youth career with Barcelona, arrived at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris on a permanent deal from Tottenham Hotspur during the summer. Following four years with Juventus, most of which were spent out on loan, Falque joined the Premier League side but was unable to break into the first team at White Hart Lane. He is known for his attacking threat and excels at the heart of midfield. 

      Twenty-one-year-old Stefano Sturaro keeps things ticking in the middle of the park. After making 16 appearances for the Grifone last season, the Italy Under-21 international signed a five-year deal with Juventus before moving back on loan. He’ll be looking to impress his future employers if picked this evening. 

      Edenilson Andrade dos Santos, commonly known as Edenilson, joins from Udinese on loan for the 2014/15 campaign. Blessed with incredible pace, the Brazilian has slotted in nicely on the right-hand side of Genoa’s midfield and provides an attacking outlet as well as the ability to defend diligently. 

      A familiar face to Juventus fans, Alessandro Matri has signed for Genoa on loan to try and spearhead an attack who found goals hard to come by last time out. During his two-and-a-half-year spell with the Bianconeri he was a key member of the squad who won a Serie A-Italian Super Cup double before joining up with old club Milan in 2013. Matri has already bagged four strikes in seven appearances for the Grifone. 

      No stranger to a transfer, Chilean striker Mauricio Pinilla has made Genoa his 14th club after moving from fellow Serie A side Cagliari in the summer. Known for his athleticism and ferocity, Pinilla is seen as somewhat of a complete forward. Comfortable with either foot, he is also a set-piece specialist. 

      Going in the opposite direction after spending a solitary season with Genoa, veteran Brazilian midfielder Matuzalem has joined Serie B side Bologna. The 34-year-old playmaker is now at his seventh Italian club and has also had spells in both Ukraine and Spain. 

      Proven goalscorer Alberto Gilardino, who holds the record of the youngest Serie A player to score 100 goals and won the Champions League with Milan in 2007, has left for pastures new. The 31-year-old has called an end to his two-year stay in Liguria after joining Chinese Super League outfit Guangzhou Evergrande, a team managed by ex-Bianconeri boss Marcello Lippi. 

      Versatile Croatian full-back Sime Vrasaljko has departed for fellow Serie A side Sassuolo whilst Emanuele Calaiò, who saw his penalty saved by Gigi Buffon in last season’s corresponding fixture, has dropped down a division to join Catania. 

      Current team

      Club captain Luca Antonelli has been a mainstay of the Grifone since joining in January 2011. The 27-year-old left-back, who spent three seasons in the Milan youth system, made his professional debut whilst at the Rossoneri eight years ago before moving to Bari on loan and then Parma in 2008. Antonelli has also played six times for the Italian national side, last featuring in a friendly against Brazil in March 2013. 

      Following the departure of Sebastien Frey in 2013, young goalkeeper Mattia Perin enjoyed a break-out year between the sticks for Genoa last season. His impressive performances for the Liguria-based outfit have seen him receive regular call-ups to the Italian national side and although he has not yet made his debut for the Azzurri, Perin was part of Cesare Prandelli’s 23-man squad for the World Cup in Brazil. 

      Argentine centre-back Nicolas Burdisso is a household name to Serie A supporters, having previously played for both Inter and Roma. The 33-year-old signed for Genoa from the Giallorossi in January and has been an ever-present since making his debut in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Fiorentina. 

      Andrea Bertolacci is an exciting young talent at heart of the Genoa midfield. The 23-year-old scored his first ever goal in professional football in a 2-0 victory over the Bianconeri for Lecce back in February 2011. A former Italian Under-21 international, he has been with the Grifone since 2012 but is still currently on a co-ownership deal from Roma. 

      Twenty-seven-year-old Juraj Kucka is one of the more dangerous players the Bianconeri will have to watch out for on Wednesday evening. Normally deployed on the left of an attacking trident, the Slovakian is an imposing presence and loves shooting from distance. He joined the club back in 2011 from Sparta Prague and is now closing in on a centenary of appearances for the Grifone. 

      Manager
      Gian Piero Gasperini had previous experience of managing the Rossoblu when he returned to the dugout in Autumn last year, having also coached the side between 2006 and 2010. 

      The 56-year-old also has ties to Juventus: his playing career began in the Bianconeri academy, before moving to Palermo where he ended up losing to his former club in the final of the 1979 Coppa Italia. 

      Following retirement in 1993, Gasperini returned to the Old Lady for his first managerial job, initially coaching the Giovanissimi before progressing to the Allievi and then the Primavera. 

      After a spell at Crotone, he took the reins of an ambitious Genoa side who he led to Serie A promotion in his first season and a fifth place finish in the top flight in the 2008/09 campaign. 

      Despite the arrival of new signings Luca Toni, Rafinha, Miguel Veloso and Kakha Kaladze in the summer of 2010, he endured  a poor start to the campaign and was dismissed soon after. 

      He didn’t fare any better at Inter, who parted ways with him after a winless run of five games at the beginning of the 2011/12 season.
      Gasperini then joined his former club Palermo. But after being dismissed from there on 4 February 2013, he was re-hired again 20 days later before being removed from the post for a second time on 11 March. 

      He was reappointed Genoa manager on 29 September 2013, replacing Fabio Liverani at the helm and steered the club to a 14th-place finish, a point behind local rivals Sampdoria. 

      His side have brought in the 2014/15 campaign in a strong manner and have succumbed to only two defeats in eight outings. Gasperini’s outfit have gained 12 points thus far and currently sit in ninth position, four places off a European spot. 

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