The ‘Derby della Lanterna’ between Genoa and Sampdoria was a clash between two poor sides involved in the relegation battle. Heading into Sunday’s game at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, both clubs were in poor form making the game have the potential for a classic derby. One major failing at Genoa was the appointment of Gigi Del Neri to replace Luigi De Canio, who lost four games out of four since taking over.
After a troubled season last year, with three managerial changes and an extremist salvation, Genoa’s president Enrico Preziosi made signification movements through the offseason, as he sold off prized assets such as Miguel Veloso to Dynamo Kiev and Palacio to Inter and purchased foreign, unproven youths like Daniel Toszer from Genk, along with decent Serie A veterans such as Michele Canini and Juan Manuel Vargas. The result was relatively unproven team, with a lot of inexperienced and few decent individuals.
The tactical matchup
Against Ciro Ferrara’s 4-5-1, Del Neri stayed with his favourite 4-4-2, the system he successfully used during his stints with Chievo and Atalanta, featuring Marco Borriello up front alongside Ciro Immobile while Bosko Jankovic and Luca Antonelli played wide.
In the first half, the 4-4-2, which changed to a 4-2-4 during attacking play barely produced any scoring chances. Jankovic was the classic No. 10 employed in a flat-four midfield: he tasked with coming inside, moving himself behind the forward, in the way to exploit gap spaces between Sampdoria defensive and midfield’s lines.
Genoa’s defense was structured as every Del Neri’s teams did in the past: a four-men back line applying classic zonal marking. As always with Del Neri’s sides, the man between the lines is covered by a centre-back moving forward, not by a central midfielder collapsing behind. A defensive line that played very high in the way to keep team tight and short.
Borriello was the forward charged to chase Sampdoria’s deep-lying playamker, Enzo Maresca, but that didn’t happen often and Borriello stopped chasing him in his own half. Genoa attempted slow build-up, but in truth played poorly against a very defensive Sampdoria unit, with them playing a very flat, defensive back four.
Things remained unchanged during the second half in which Del Neri opted to take off the abashed Cesare Bovo, dropping Emiliano Moretti t centre-back and inserting Vargas at left wing and Andrea Bertolacci as central, attacking, midfielder, switching his system from a 4-4-2 to a 4-2-4. The gameplan in the second half was entirely based on direct, high tempo passes to the forwards, supporting them with Bertolacci in the middle and with both Jankovic and Vargas attacking up and down the flanks. In that way, Del Neri had two-men less on the defensive phase but two in free positions ready to fast-breaks.
At the end, Sampdoria were far to be the better side throughout the game but they exploited their counter-attacking potential against a Genoa that played so badly.