Saturday, April 11, 2009

Genoa v Juventus match preview

Located roughly an hour north-east of Rome is the beautiful little town L'Aquila. With the mountains of Gran Sasso in the horizon, the community rests in a sun-kissed valley and is ripe with artistic reminders of the areas past. It is, like many places in beautiful Italy, impossible to forget but has somehow managed to maintain its beauty through the ages.

For many the name of this little town in Abruzzo would have never passed their lives if hadn't been for the unfortunate earthquake of this past week. A 6.3 magnitude quake shook L'Aquila early in the morning on April 6, causing extraordinary loss in life and untold pain for the inhabitants of the beautiful people of the area.

It seems trite to try and provide a preview of a Football match with this in-tow but I ask each reader, whether you from the area or across the planet to try and remember the extraordinary loss this past week in L'Aquila. The destruction in the area is beyond simple explanation as much of the area is is tatters and the will need the help of many to survive. I remind each of you the real "beauty" of this beautiful game is not the story of wins and losses and of goal scored but how it brings the world together and hopefully makes us better people.

Relief efforts have sprung up from local initiatives to those from a world-wide scope and if you are able to, please do so. My deepest prayers on this holy weekend go out to the people of L'Aquila.

With a vision of a Champions League bid in the horizon, Genoa welcomes Juventus to Stadio Luigi Ferraris, resting a scant two points above Fiorentina. Gian Piero Gasperini's side have been far from impressive since their painful collapse against the Viola although they have managed to find a way to win in the ugliest of fashions. In the six matches since that mid February affair, they have lost only once, squeezing out the narrowest of victories over Napoli, Cagliari, Udinese and Reggina but still nonetheless winning. In many ways, this slow evolution is a step in the right direction as successful clubs have an unnerving habit of winning, even if they are not playing up to snuff.

However that shouldn't be confused for an accepting glance at some very obvious changes. The biggest concern with Genoa has been tactical predictability, leading to clubs quickly shutting down their attack. This is key point to consider should they find their way through to the Champions League as they will need to bolster their attacking vision. Yet the situation is not all stone roses because whilst they are suffering through some attacking problems, they equally have flipped the switch and made radical strides in defending.

This new-found defending ability will be put to the test as Juventus overran Genoa this past November in what surely the low-point of the year. Last week Juve uncharacteristically stumbled in a 3-3 draw to Chievo as Sergio Pellissier somehow managed to get three goals against Gigi. The sting of dropped points was a bit worst as Bosnia and Herzegovina international Hasan Salihamidžić was forced out early with a knee injury that will cause him the final month of the campaign.

For this match Genoa will need to adjust their tactical plan. While they are expected to utilize their now all-too standard 3-4-3, they have been tinkering with a pulling ex-Crvena zvezda man Boško Janković back into a five man midfield. In remains to be seen if this will be deployed but they need to consider other tactical measures or it will be a long day for Genoa. Gian Piero Gasperini will once again be without the services of Diego Milito, Matteo Paro and Alessio Scarpi.