This Serie A season has seen Genoa struggle yet again to pick up points. They currently sit in 17th place having played one game more than their competitors in the bottom half of the table, making them a likely candidate to go down this year, especially when considering that they still have to play Inter and Napoli as part of their remaining fixtures. However, with strikers such as Antonio Sanabria, Goran Pandev and Andrea Pinamonti, it is hard to comprehend exactly why they are struggling to perform at a higher level. Distinctively last season we saw ex-Juventus player Fabio Quagliarella carry Sampdoria all the way up to 9th place with 26 goals and this is something we hoped would have been replicated by one of Genoa’s forwards this season, yet for the most part, they have been unable to perform on a consistent enough basis to warrant these numbers.
Nonetheless, in this data analysis, we will provide an analysis of how the strikers have represented themselves this year, as well as how they compare to one another through the use of stats and graphs.
Before we dive into the report it is important that we notice that all of the data and graphs used in this analysis have come directly from Soccerment.com. That being said, to start with, we are going to look at each player individually and break down their statistics from this season.
The Paraguayan striker has scored a total of three goals and made two assists this season, giving him 0.25 goals per 90, as well as 0.85 chances created per 90. His goals have all come from an xG of 3.83, while his assists have come from an xA of 1.10. This highlights to us that Sanabria has been able to outperform both his xG and xA, giving his side a good return from his performances, yet because his teammates have been unable to produce more chances for him capitalise on, he has been somewhat let down.
Furthermore, he has an above-average passing accuracy at 77.3%, which is quite surprising considering how advanced his position is. More specifically, Sanabria has been able to make 18.9 accurate passes per 90, while only misplacing 5.5 passes per 90, showing to us the extent of his passing demeanour on the pitch. Also, considering the fact that Genoa struggle to maintain possession for large amounts of times in games this season, the passing opportunities for Sanabria don’t come by that often, which makes his passing statistics all the more impressive.
However, because only 19% of his passes go forward, often times he is unable to produce good link-up play with his partnered striker, which as a consequence makes both forwards from Genoa less productive.
Even so, Sanabria is able to make 2.63 dribbles per 90, at a success rate of 61.3%, which does slightly make up for his counter-intuitive passing. And with over 3.91 touches in the opponent’s box per 90, it is clear that the striker is still a valuable asset for Genoa.
In terms of goal involvements, Pandev has an impressive seven goals so far with an xG of only 5.15, showing that he too along with Sanabria is also overperforming his xG. However, the 36-year-old is yet to register an assist this season, despite having an xA of 1.72, illuminating yet again the disappointment created by the below-par performances from Pandev’s teammates, which has subsequently caused the veteran to underperform in this area of his game.
Despite this, Pandev has been able to boast great numbers within his shooting metrics this season. For example, he has a shot conversion rate of 32% which is considerably higher than the other forwards from Genoa, and he has also been able to average 4.83 touches in the opponent’s box per 90 which is quite surprising given the fact that Genoa have largely been a counter-attacking side this season.
Moreover, unlike Sanabria, Pandev has been able to play 30% of his passes forward, combined with an average of 23.6 passes being played in the opponents half per 90.
This has helped to make him the second most creative player from Genoa with 1.27 chances created per 90, only behind midfielder Marko Pajač who has created only 1.42 per 90. It should be noted, however, that his role as a hold-up striker may help to explain exactly why he has been so successful in creating chances for his side this season.
Moving on from this, Pandev does have some limitations in his game, particularly with his ability to control the ball. For instance, he has a dribble success ratio of only 51.5%, which averages out to 1.3 successful dribbles per 90. This is a particular cause for concern, as when Genoa are on the counter it is vital that their players are comfortable when driving at their opponents, in order to create space for their teammates. Thus, the lack of this trait is a major limitation in Pandev’s attacking game and helps to add further weight towards the tactical decision of playing him as a hold-up striker.
The under 21 Italian has arguably been the least productive forward for Genoa this season, managing only four goals and one assist, despite playing over 400 more minutes than the two other forwards already highlighted in this analysis. Nonetheless, Pinamonti has managed an xG of 4.78 which indicates that he is performing at a high level, however, if we consider the fact that he has played considerably more minutes than his teammates, this metric doesn’t look all that promising for the forward.
Worryingly, Pinamonti has only managed to accumulate a shooting accuracy of 28.6% as well as an average of 0.56 shots on target per 90, shockingly revealing to us that the Italian is failing to test the keeper every other game which for a forward is massively disappointing.
Unfortunately, the bad news does not end there for the Italian, his xA is currently at 0.48, which again is a poor return from the minutes invested into him. While his passing accuracy in the opposition’s half is only 63.9% again emphasising his sub-standard performances. Finally, out of all of Pinamonti’s passes this season, only 15% of them have been forward, which is another troubling stat for the forward.
What have we learnt?
Pandev has the best goal involvement rate this season despite being unable to register an assist so far this campaign, while in terms of passing, both Pandev and Sanabria have good passing statistics, however, Pandev has the slight edge over his teammate thanks to his impressive 72% pass accuracy in the opponents half. Yet it should be noted that Sanabria has been 30% more accurate when it comes to long passing, and has been able to keep possession of the ball for his side more often than the other two strikers in this analysis. Pinamonti, on the other hand, is a far more dynamic player, as his progressive runs numbers show with 4.39 touches in the opponent’s box per 90, it is clear that the Italian does offer something different for Genoa, however, his lack of composure in front of goal has cost him and his team massively this season.
We can simplify these stats in a chart produced by Soccerment.com, which highlights a player’s strengths and weaknesses (highlighted in blue), compared to similar players in Serie A (highlighted in grey). This is a very useful tool when illustrating a visual representation of how the players have differed for Genoa this year.
Yet he is not one of the best strikers in the league in terms of his physical capabilities, but his stats in others areas, particularly his passing and vision, have helped to make him a reasonably well-rounded player for Genoa this season.
Even so, despite having seven goals, his attacking metrics are almost identical to Sanabria’s, while his heading is significantly lower than his teammates.
Pinamonti, on the other hand, excels with his dribbling and attacking statistics, as highlighted through his directness on the ball earlier on in this analysis. He also holds decent metrics within his heading and physical stats, making him the most well-rounded forward in this analysis. Yet his passing statistics are by far the lowest compared to the other two forwards, which does hold him back from being a complete performer.
Finally, due to the similarities between Sanabria and Pandev, it is important that we differentiate their statistics in more detail. Below we can see a graph of Sanabria’s (highlighted in blue) and Pandev’s (highlighted in green) role-specific events.
The graph illuminates to us that Pandev has a far greater goal conversion rate than Sanabria, while their touches within the box are more or less the same. Nonetheless, the graph is a useful metric for allowing us to see the slight differences within their playing styles. For instance, the figuration shows that Sanabria is slightly more successful when trying to beat an opponent on the ball, which implies that he incorporates more trickery into his game.
While the graph also personifies that fact that Pandev is more successful with his passing competency, partly due to his role within the tactics of the team, which moulds him into the role of a deep-lying forward, who tries to link-up play between the lines. Thus, in spite of the apparent similarities between the two forwards, they both offer something different to Genoa and help to complement each other’s performances thanks to their specific roles within the team.
So having looked at the three forwards from a statistical and positional point of view, how can Genoa make the most out of their forward options during the remainder of the season? In my opinion, both Pandev and Sanabria should be starting up front together within Genoa’s 4-4-2 formation, as they both provide the necessary skill-sets to pounce on the few chances that Genoa will create within their remaining games. Pandev will prove to be useful when linking up play with the midfield and making late runs into the box to create a shooting opportunity while Sanabria will be able to drag defenders out of position and break down defensive lines with his dribbling skills.
This attacking duo does drift away from Thiago Motta’s usual partnership of Pandev and Pinamonti, however, with Sanabria’s technical quality matched with Pandev’s experience and positional play, they will become a far more effective and threatening side, with a much more fluent attacking style. As a result, Pinamonti should only be relied to come on from the bench, where his physicality and aerial threat will give Genoa another attacking dimension when they need it most.
Thus if this partnership is put in place Genoa will become a much more functional side with a considerably more consistent and threatening attacking line. This will then help them gain back their confidence as a team as more and more results go in their favour and their true attacking potential is revealed to the rest of Serie A. Only then can we conclusively say that Genoa will survive the drop this season.