Derby della Lanterna

The city of Genoa is known for a massive stone tower and lighthouse that sits near the city’s port. A landmark fortifications and now a museum with medieval origins, the Lighthouse of Genoa or Lanterna di Genova is one of the main symbols of the city.

Navigating through the rough seas of Serie A has certainly been a rocky experience for both Genoa football clubs this season. Both Genoa and Sampdoria sit near the bottom of the Serie A table with barely 5 wins between them after 15 rounds of matches.

As a consequence this version of the Derby della Lanterna took on extra significance for both clubs with the teams now at serious risk of relegation to Serie B.

Genoa CFC vs. UC Sampdoria

Stadio Luigi Ferreris, Genoa

Saturday 14th December 2019

Italian Serie A

Genoa started the current Serie A season quite well. A draw away in Rome against AS Roma and a home win over Fiorentina left most Genoa fans with a huge sense of optimism before September had even began.

Then a serious of defeats rocked the club including a 5-1 defeat to Parma and a 4-0 loss to Lazio at the Stadio Olympico. It was 26th October before the club won another game and by that time a new manager was in place – a 3-1 home win over Brescia.

Sampdoria’s start to the 2019-20 Serie A was nowhere near as positive as that of Genoa.

The club started the season with three consecutive defeats to Lazio, Sassuolo and Napoli. A 1-0 win over Torino got Sampdoria back on track before another three consecutive defeats (to Fiorentina, Inter and Verona) left the club with only 3 points and staring at the harsh realities of relegation.

Then things improved slightly with wins over SPAL and Udinese before things went completely downhill again after a trip to Sardinia. The adventure to Sardina saw Sampdoria suffer consecutive league and Coppa Italia defeats to Cagliari.

The Beginnings

Just after the ceasing of World War II two different clubs were competing in Italian football. One, Society Andrea Doria, were named after the ancient 16th century ruler of the Independent Republic of Genoa. Another, Sampierdarense, were the lesser of the two sides but a decision was made to create UC Sampdoria from both clubs on 12th August 1946.

To symbolically illustrate that both clubs would be equally represented in the new merged club, a new kit was designed by which we know Sampdoria today.

This shirt featured the blue shirts of Andrea Doria and the white, red and black midsection of Sampierdarenese. In the same month a decision was made that the new club would share the Stadio Luigo Ferraris with the historical Genoa Cricket and Football Club.

Genoa was founded on 7 September 1893 as the Genoa Cricket & Athletic Club. In its earliest years, the club principally competed in athletics and cricket with football only a minor sporting arm of the club.

On 10 April 1897 the footballing section (already in existance from 1893) became the predominant sporting part of the club thanks to an Englishman called Mr Spensley. This made Genoa one of the oldest in Italian football and with the creation of the FIGC (Italian Football Federation) and the Italian Championship, Genoa were able to compete in the first Italian Championship in 1898.

The Coaching Revolving Door

For centuries Genoa’s lanterna’ (the lighthouse) has guided ships into the harbour of this city that sits on the north-west coast of Italy. This season Sampdoria are guided by Claudio Ranieri the veteran Italian coach of many clubs who most recently tasted huge success in England with Leicester City.

Sampdoria had actually finished the previous season under the leadership of Marco Giampaolo but in June 2019 he signed up as manager with AC Milan until 2021.

In his place Sampdoria appointed Eusebio Di Francesco as the new coach but on 7th October 2019 with Sampdoria in last place in Serie A table and having suffered 6 losses in 7 league games he left the club by mutual consent.

At Genoa CFC recent seasons have been as equally turbulent in terms of head coach turnover. On December 7th 2018 Cesare Prandelli was appointed as the new Genoa manager but his contract was terminated during the close season – in June 2019. To replace Prandelli, Genoa appointed Aurelio Andreazzoli but he was sacked during October with the team in second last place in Serie A.

The current managerial incumbant is Thiago Motta a Brazilan born former PSG midfield player and Italian international. His first official match in charge saw Genoa achieve a 3–1 home win over Brescia Calcio but things have been far from easy and he was coming under severe pressure as derby day approached.

The Derby

If both Genoa clubs share anything it is the commonality of the presence of the flag of Genoa, a St George’s Cross, on the clubs playing shirt.

As both teams emerged into the arena of a crackling atmosphere it was a cold night. Many such St George’s flags could be seen amongst fans. Such was the tension inside both managers might have wished they were out playing instead of watching helpless from the technical areas.

Genoa coach Thiago Motta has mentioned before the game that he felt the best side would win on the night; such comments coming largely in response to those questioning his future as Genoa manager.

It was a former Southampton player Manolo Gabbiadini who may have just placed another nail in Motta’s managerial coffin. The left footed front man got the only goal of the game after 85 minutes; one of only two shots on target during the entire 90 minutes.

Generally this was a complicated scrappy encounter possibly easy to tag as a ‘typically Italian fixture’ given the amount of fouls (43) in the game.

Genoa crucially had key man Goran Pandev suspended with other key players Zapata and Kouame injured. Sampdoria meanwhile had to make do without Jankto, Bereszynski, Barreto, Bertolacci and Federico Bonazzoli.

However, key man and striker Manolo Gabbiadini was on the bench a somewhat fortunate factor given his pivotal role in this fixture come the 86th minute.

The winning goal came against the run of play. Genoa had no sooner blasted a free kick over the bar when Biraschi made a loose and wayward pass which was intercepted by Linetty.

He then travelled into space down the left towards the Sampdoria end and approaching the box he rolled it to substitute Gabbiadini. His quick left-foot shot into the near bottom corner flew past the goalkeeper’s right hand.

The celebrations after the final whistle were wild both from the players and the Sampdoria fans. Indeed such were the scenes of rejoice they went on a full 15 minutes after the final whistle at the Sud end of the ground; shirts being thrown into fans and songs being blasted out.

In the newspapers La Gazzetta Dello Sport called it ‘Il derby perso negli ultimi 5 minuti’ (The derby lost in the last 5 minutes) concluding that Genoa had lost similar fixtures this season in a short 5 minute period.

With this derby day win Sampdoria lifted themselves up the table out of distance of the three relegation places but still in a far from comfortable position. Genoa meanwhile slipped into the relegation zone with the appointment of Motta as coach being questioned on an almost daily basis by just about every daily sport newspaper.

Genoa vs. Sampdoria 0-1 FT (HT: 0-0)

Goalscorers: 40mins (Gabbiadini)

Genoa: Radu; Biraschi, Romero, Criscito (Cleonise 88); Ghiglione, Schone (Jagiello 65), Radovanovic, Cassata, Pajac (Ankersen 65); Sanabria, Pinamonti

Sampdoria: Audero; Thorsby, Ferrari, Colley, Murru, Depaoli, Ekdal (Murillo 45), Vieira, Linetty, Ramirez (Gabbiadini 75), Quagliarella (Caprari 75).

Ref: Doveri (Tuscany)