Having posted their first victory of the season last weekend, Genoa host Fiorentina on Saturday afternoon at Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
While the Grifone got off the mark in Cagliari, their visitors were surprise winners over Atalanta – with a familiar name dominating the scoresheet
In a curious affair decided by three penalties and some contentious VAR decisions, last week Fiorentina backed up their first win of the 2021-22 campaign with another success – this time against the odds, in Bergamo.
Given a two-goal lead by a pair of Dusan Vlahovic penalties either side of the interval, the Viola were able to hang on to all three points despite Duvan Zapata netting a spot-kick for the home side in the 65th minute.
After netting 21 Serie A goals last term, Vlahovic was persuaded to stay put in Florence despite some serious interest from major clubs across the continent and started this season with a Coppa Italia brace, before scoring the winning goal versus Torino a fortnight ago.
The form of his star striker may even lead coach Vincenzo Italiano to dream of mounting a challenge for the European places, following a period of mediocrity and struggle at the club under his recent predecessors.
In fact, Fiorentina last won three consecutive games in a single Serie A season back in October 2019, under former boss Vincenzo Montella, and it was six years ago that they most recently picked up at least nine points from their first four league outings – when they ultimately finished fifth at the end of the campaign.
Joining an exclusive club, Vlahovic is now one of only three players born this century to have reached 30 league goals in the top five European Leagues, alongside Erling Haaland (45) and Jadon Sancho (38). With one of those strikes coming in the 1-1 draw with Genoa in April, he already has fond memories of playing at Marassi and is sure to be heavily involved again there this weekend.
After a sluggish start to their season, Genoa were staring a third consecutive defeat in the face last Sunday, as they trailed 2-0 to Cagliari in Sardinia.
However, Davide Ballardini’s men conjured up a remarkable comeback to win 3-2; with all their goals registered in a spectacular 19-minute spell midway through the second half. Debutant Mohamed Fares – previously with Lazio – came off the bench to head in a rare pair of goals, after Mattia Destro had pulled one back in the 59th minute.
The Grifone had lost both of their previous league games, having been thumped 4-0 by Inter on the opening weekend before losing 2-1 to Napoli, but are now up to 13th in the early-season standings.
Though each of the last three games between the Grifone and Fiorentina has ended level – a goalless stalemate in January 2020, followed by two 1-1 draws last season – this week’s hosts have lost only one of their last seven home league games against their Tuscan visitors.
With two wins and four draws to their name during that period, precedent is certainly in their favour on Saturday, but Ballardini will need to address a defence which has leaked eight league goals already – not to mention conceding three in a recent friendly with Alessandria and two versus Perugia in the Coppa Italia.
Genoa Serie A form:
Genoa form (all competitions):
Fiorentina Serie A form:
Fiorentina form (all competitions):
We say: Genoa 1-1 Fiorentina
Little has separated these sides in recent times, and they may remain locked together again at the end of 90 minutes on Saturday.
Fiorentina are surely a team on the up after some time spent in the doldrums, but Genoa boast plenty of experience which can help them dig out a point against one of their probable mid-table rivals.