Genoa back on the European Stage after Sensational Season

Marzia HazraAnalyst IMay 26, 2009

A match-fixing scandal ahead of the 2005-2006 season while Genoa was still in Serie B sent them tumbling down to Serie C1. The club had to start on the bottom in their quest for success and that season a playoff against Monza sent the Grifone back up to Serie B.

Ahead of the 2006-2007 season club president Enrico Preziosi brought in Gian Piero Gasperini. Under the guidance of the newly appointed tactician the Peninsula’s oldest club managed to secure promotion back to Italy’s top flight on the last day of the season. Twelve years of waiting had finally come to an end.

In their first season back in Serie A the Rossoblu finished on a respectable 10th place. During the summer that followed Preziosi was careful to make some wisely considered additions while offloading those that didn’t fit into the club’s long-term plans.

Two of the players that arrived during the 2008 summer mercato that would come to leave the biggest impact in the coming season were Zaragoza’s Diego Milito and Barcelona’s Thiago Motta.

Milito refused several lucrative offers from top club suitors in order to rejoin his former club. The Argentinean has been firing on all cylinders and is ahead of the final game of the season only one goal shy of Serie A top scorers Marco Di Vaio and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The former Zaragoza man was the difference in both of the Derby Della Lanterna encounters with Sampdoria but it was the latter which was one of the season’s most memorable games for Milito as he went on to score a unforgettable hat trick to beat the Blucerchiati by 3-1.

Genoa probably made the bargain of the season when they landed Motta on a free transfer from the Blaugrana. The injury-prone midfielder has been a revelation this season as he’s dictated games in order to allow the Rossublu to showcase some truly brilliant football. A couple of weeks ago Motta’s brace against Juventus secured another unforgettable victory in the club’s record breaking season.

The aim at the beginning of the season was to take the step back on to the European stage by finishing on a UEFA Cup spot. The team has recorded admirable victories against top sides such as AC Milan, Juventus, and AS Roma and it’s safe to say that they exceeded all expectations when for a while it even seemed highly likely that they would snatch the fourth and final Champions League spot.

In the end, Fiorentina proved too strong and with only one round remaining of the season Genoa is sure to finish the season on fifth place—ahead of last season’s runner-up AS Roma.

Unfortunately for the Rossoblu they will have to embark on their European adventure without two of the team’s most prominent players as both Milito and Motta are set to join Inter Milan at the end of the season while Inter prodigy Robert Aquafresca is heading the other way along with a sum of unknown money.

Although it may seem ridiculous to let go of the club’s two most important players Genoa has made quite the bargain in young Aquafresca. Besides, the club doesn’t have the financial resources to keep their star players as Milito alone earns more than double the amount of money as the next player.

Preziosi has wasted no time in replacing his departing players and has told the media that Atalanta forward Sergio Floccari has penned a deal with the Grifone with Inter duo Hernan Crespo and Ricardo Quaresma looking to do the same.

Gasperini wants to build for the future and with both Milito and Motta edging closer to 30 this was the prime time to let go of the players and still receive a good amount of money. The future looks promising for the high-flying Genoa that boasts several bright prospects. In addition to the recent signings the club has also secured the services of the successful tactician who has penned a fresh three-year extension with the Grifone.

This season Genoa has proven that they can fight with the top sides and do so admirably well. With a handful of new faces and the same ingredients for success there’s no telling how far Gasperini’s men can go as they once again grace the European scene after 17 years of absence.