Serie A 2012-13 season review: Ballardini steers Genoa to safety

Gabriele Maltinti

It took three coaches, but Genoa eventually secured their Serie A status for another season.

Genoa
17th; W8, D14, L16

The Grifone reshuffled their playing pack during the summer and went through two coaching changes during a turbulent season, before securing survival with a round to spare. It's the second straight season that the Marassi outfit have left it late to preserve their top flight status.

Luigi De Canio started the campaign on the Genoa bench, but only lasted eight rounds until October. After surrendering a 2-0 lead to lose 4-2 at home to AS Roma, club President Enrico Preziosi wielded the axe and brought in Luigi Delneri.

Disciplinarian Delneri got off to a horrendous start, losing five games on the spin, including a 3-1 derby defeat to Sampdoria. A 1-0 win at Atalanta was immediately followed by another two losses, before two draws steadied the ship going into Christmas. The New Year started with a victory, but two consecutive losses made Preziosi act again and Davide Ballardini was brought in for his second stint in charge. Ballardini went unbeaten in his first five games in charge, and would only lose four out of the 17 games he took charge for. The club remained unbeaten in their final seven league games, grinding out three consecutive goalless draws to end the season. Only Torino (16) drew more games than the Grifone this season.

Most significant match

Genoa 4-1 Pescara (5 May 2013)
When the team needed a performance, this was it. Ballardini's side recorded their biggest win of the campaign and sent Pescara into Serie B, with four rounds left to play. Marco Borriello netted a sublime brace, along with strikes by Antonio Floro Flores and Andrea Bertolacci. The victory gave Genoa the self belief they needed to see themselves safely over the finish line.

Biggest surprise

The appointment of Luigi Delneri
Preziosi acted rashly in getting rid of De Canio so early on in the season. The loss to Roma was only De Canio's third overall, having previously gone four games undefeated. Delneri was the wrong fit for the club and was given almost double the time to mess things up. Had he remained in charge then Genoa would almost certainly have had their Serie B ticket punched. Eight points from 13 games left the side third from bottom when Preziosi finally realised that the team and long-suffering fans had lost faith in Delneri's methods. The fact that Preziosi is considering re-hiring him during the close season is even more surprising.

Biggest disappointment

Ciro Immobile
The 23-year-old was knocking the goals in for fun during the season prior. Albeit that was for Pescara in Serie B, but 28 goals convinced Genoa to purchase a share in the player and take him on loan from Juventus. Sadly, the former Italian Under-21 international couldn't replicate his previous form and netted just five times in a very stop-start season. He made 26 appearances for Genoa, but in the latter part of the season found himself out of the side in favour of Floro Flores and Bertolacci supporting Borriello.

What needs changing?

More goals

Genoa were the fifth lowest scorers in the league with 38 goals. Aside from the relegated sides, only Chievo Verona netted one less time. The fact that Immobile was the club's second highest scorer with five tells you that more strength in numbers is needed.

Who's off in the summer?

Preziosi still hasn't decided who will sit on the Genoa bench next season. Despite Ballardini keeping the side up, overtures have reportedly been made to both Andrea Stramaccioni and Zdenek Zeman. Goalkeeper Mattia Perin returns from a season long loan spell at Pescara, but his agent has warned that the 20-year-old won't be prepared to sit on the bench and be understudy to Sebastien Frey. Clubs around Europe are on high alert for Perin's services. After turning down a move to Lazio last summer and Dynamo Kiev in January, Swedish defender Andreas Granqvist looks set to exit this time around, while Liverpool are courting midfielder Juraj Kucka. The future of Immobile also looks to be in the air, with a final decision resting with parent club Juventus.

If Genoa keep one individual...

Marco Borriello
The on-loan forward is enjoying a second stint at Genoa and finally looks settled, having spent the previous two seasons fighting for space at Juventus and Roma. Discarded by Zeman in the Capital at the start of the season, Borriello filled the void left by the departures of Alberto Gilardino, Rodrigo Palacio and Giuseppe Sculli, shouldering the goalscoring burden by himself to finish as the side's leading marksman with 12 goals. A stay in the Port City looks to be the best solution for both parties.

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