Genoa faced a tough beginning to the 2013/14 season as they were tasked with visiting the San Siro to try and topple Inter, and sure enough it proved an ask too far: the Nerazzurri began their time under new boss Walter Mazzarri with a 2-0 win in which the Rossoblu rarely managed to trouble them.
Genoa, at this point managed by Fabio Liverani, defended well all game, but were helpless to prevent the opening goal, which came after a deflected Jonathan cross fell to Yuto Nagatomo at the back post and the Japanese defender was able to put in his header with ease.
The Rossoblu back line could similarly have done little about the second, a poacher’s finish by Rodrigo Palacio after a clever dart in behind them that secured the win.
Their next opponents were equally challenging, because it was Fiorentina that made the trip to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
The Viola were in ruthless finishing form and netted five in front of the Rossoblu faithful, although Genoa did manage to show their own talents in attack through a wonderful outside-of-the-boot reverse volley from Alberto Gilardino - by far their strongest performer - and a penalty from Francesco Lodi.
But they did manage to record their first three points in their next fixture, and the fact that they did it against their biggest rivals, Sampdoria, made it even sweeter.
It finished 3-0 to Genoa in the Derby della Lanterna, and Liverani’s men put in a dominant performance on a fairytale night for the Rossoblu fans inside the ground.
Luca Antonini volleyed the first goal past Angelo Da Costa on his debut with just nine minutes played. Emanuele Calaiò then extended the lead, before Lodi dispatched a free-kick to set the celebrations in full flow; celebrations which the manager himself rushed onto the pitch to join in with as his men formed an ecstatic team-huddle in front of the home “curva”.
The team’s next result was not as spectacular: a goalless draw at home against newly-promoted Livorno that awarded the Rossoblu an important point but which could have produced a lot more.
And they remained disappointed in midweek thanks to the 1-0 loss away at Udinese that followed. The only difference between the two sides was an own-goal from Calaiò, who turned Antonio Di Natale’s free-kick into his own net.
The Rossoblu were then downed by a Goran Pandev brace within the opening 25 minutes of their visit to Napoli. Although Liverani’s men created some good chances to stage a comeback in the second half, in the end some excellent saves from Pepe Reina denied them.
But their away trip to Catania was more fruitful, and they added another point to their tally with a 1-1 draw thanks to a late Nicola Legrottaglie own-goal.
In their most recent result, Genoa recorded the same 2-1 scoreline at home against Chievo Verona which Juventus previously had managed away. Gilardino fired a brilliant header into the corner for the first goal, and although Chievo equalised through Simone Bentivoglio, the Genoa striker eventually unwittingly sealed the win after an attempt at a goal-line clearance ricocheted in off the back of his head.
Genoa have scored just eight goals so far, and have enjoyed the lowest amount of shots in Serie A.
Gilardino has netted three of those strikes, while Lodi has been the second biggest goal threat with two, both fruits of his famous ability to convert from dead-ball situations. But with only four different players on the scoresheet so far this season, the Rossoblu currently have the lowest variety of scorers in Serie A.
Two important tendencies to note are Genoa’s focus down the wings (only Bologna have put in more crosses this season) and their threat in the first 15 minutes of the second half, a period in which they have scored 75% of their goals.
None of Genoa’s strikes have come from distance, which is curious because it was the Rossoblu’s speciality last season. The fact that it hasn’t happened once this year is perhaps because they now lack the long-range capabilities of Marco Borriello, who has moved to Roma.
Other than from distance, Genoa have scored in all manner of ways: a header, a free-kick, a penalty, a deflection, a volley and an own-goal have all gone in so far this season.
The Rossoblu formation varied between 3-5-2 and 4-3-3 under Liverani, and the players have been deployed in a number of different ways under new boss Gasperini. During his first game in charge - Catania 1-1 Genoa - he changed it three times, but eventually settled on a 3-4-3 that was also used against Chievo Verona and looks set to be put into action again against the Bianconeri.