2nd December 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
"I heard from my father, who told me he had scored against Juventus, and therefore it was in our blood, so I had to do the same. This is the best day of my career so far," explained an overjoyed Giovanni Simeone following his double in Genoa's sensational 3-1 win over Juventus.
Indeed, there was no better way for the son of Diego to break his six match goalless streak, in a match where he became the first Genoa player to bag a brace against Juventus since Marco Rossi in 2010.
While his father was busy attending to business of his own, steering his Atletico Madrid side to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Osasuna in La Liga, Diego certainly would've been proud of his boy's exploits against the Serie A league leaders upon hearing the news of his day out. Remarkably, 6084 days after his dad scored a winner vs Juve for Lazio back in 2000, Giovanni had emulated his old man's achievement.
Interestingly, in the weeks prior to his scintillating performance, Giovanni gave a fascinating insight into why it's not been easy to follow in the footsteps of his famous father and how he's desperate to create his own identity. "Ever since I was a kid it was not an easy situation: everyone talked about me, saying that if I did play football it was only because I was Simeone's son. But that wasn't the case," he insisted.
"I have always been a normal guy who wanted to play football, learn and get into the first team. You cannot compare us: I am Giovanni, he is my father."
From the outset, Giovanni certainly went about making a name for himself under no uncertain terms, as the 21-year-old hit the ground running by scoring two goals inside 13 minutes. The first an opportunistic tap in from close range and the second a precise glancing header from Darko Lazovic's cross after his cunning blindside run saw him evade his marker, Medhi Benatia.
Giovanni's body of work was more than just about his brace, however, for he worked tirelessly and intelligently thoroughout, giving plenty of indications as to why he's such a highly regarded prospect.
The languid, robust forward held his own against the experienced backline of Juventus, with his dynamic, well angled and timed runs into the channel, dropping movements and hold up play causing headaches throughout. The way he and his fellow attackers targeted the left half space and the left wing was particularly interesting, though. With Genoa's manager, Ivan Juric, recognising Dani Alves, Juve's right sided centre half, playing in a largely unfamiliar position, his tactic to funnel their attacks down this flank worked wonders.
With Luca Rigoni and Lucas Ocampos directed to operate in left of centre areas, from their respective central attacking and inside left roles, in combination with Giovanni's supporting movements, Genoa successfully created overloads to give themselves numerical superiority against Alves and Stephan Lichtsteiner. This unquestionably provided the ideal platform for the Genoa threesome to link up and make the most of their 3v2 advantage to drive the Gryphons forward.
The fact Genoa attacked down the left a whopping 56% of the time aptly depicted the home team's intentions.
Some wonderful pressing and all-round defensive aggression and intensity rounded out a fine performance by the Argentine. Although he gave away a whopping six fouls, his manager would've loved seeing his dedication to the cause, for Giovanni set the tone beautifully for his teammates to follow.
Although it's been a predominantly successful start to life in Serie A for a man of his age, it hasn't been all easy for the youngster, who's battled for consistency in the early third of the campaign. But Giovanni's integration has been made easier at a club like Genoa and due to his mental fortitude that's clearly been instilled into him by his father. "When I arrived, I didn't expect to improve so quickly, but in three months I've done a lot and it is a wonderful moment for me," he told the Serie A website.
"I knew my first year would be about settling in. What really surprised me about Serie A is the pace of the players and how quickly the game goes. The people in Genoa are similar to in Argentina, so I've already played the derby between River Plate and Boca, but also between Banfield and Lanus. It's wonderful in Genoa to experience the week leading up to a derby, as fans stop you in the street and ask you to win.
"I try to ask more of myself and train to reach the level of Argentina's greats one day. "I've only been in Genoa a few months, but it feels like I've been here for years."
Even though, he's got plenty of work to do before he reaches the pinnacle of the game, with his tigerish attitude and insatiable desire to succeed, it would take a brave man to bet against him fulfilling his footballing dreams of becoming a star in his own right.
Giovanni Simeone - The Man of the Moment at Genoa
2nd December 2016. By Edward Stratmann.