Serie A Preview: Genoa v. AC Milan

Date: Sunday, December 7, 2014

Kickoff: 9:00 AM ET (USA) / 15:00 CET (ITA)

League Position: Milan (6), Genoa (4)

Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa, Italy

A chance to rejoin the top 5 waits for Milan as they visit Gian Piero Gasperini and his surprising Genoa side this Sunday. Off the heels of a much improved if not totally convincing win over Udinese, the Rossoneri will face a resurgent (don’t laugh too hard) Alessandro Matri and a team unbeaten in their previous 8 Serie A matches. Genoa are on a good run of form no doubt, but if Milan expect to beat Napoli and Roma in the coming rounds they’ll need to prove they can clip Il Grifone’s wings first.

Milan’s play in the first half against Udinese was some of the best we’ve seen all season. All that was missing was goals. As in, real goals. Goals the officials say are goals. Whatever. The first goal we scored then (after relinquishing some of the play back to Udinese in the second) was a bit lucky, but the goal we deserved came later after a sublime run and finish from Jeremy Menez to grab his brace. The phantom goal from that positive first half hardly matters in the end, although I will say the officials just may have gotten it right, purely by chance of course.

I’d love to see us recreate the pressurized, fluent football we displayed in the first forty-five against Genoa, and that will require Inzaghi to recognize just what made us that much more effective: a creative midfield. With Muntari and De Jong still on the mend and Essien now suspended, I may get my wish simply because he doesn’t have much of a choice!

Tale of the Tape

Previous 6 Serie A Matches

Milan: DDLDDW
Genoa: WWWDDW

I already mentioned Genoa’s 8-game unbeaten run, but Milan’s 6 straight unbeaten away from home bears mentioning as well. Hardly road warriors over the past few seasons, we’ve at least proven we can bring some fight to our opponents’ doorsteps in recent weeks. Genoa’s last victory over Milan did come at the Marassi… in 2010.

Genoa spend a lot of time in the opposition’s penalty area, with 61% of their shots coming from inside the box. Yet they haven’t scored a single penalty all season, while Milan have converted 4. Milan are still doing a decent job of holding out for high percentage shots too though, with 55% of our shots from inside the area. Genoa and Milan have shot-to-goal conversion rates of 12% and 13% respectively.

Milan have 53% (Genoa 48%) possession on the season despite the emphasis on the counter-attack. A pass success rate of 83% (Genoa 76%) combined with that possession and our play against Udinese suggests that, well, maybe we don’t need to play that way.

Both sides prefer to attack up the wings, each only going through the center in 25% of attacks. With reports that both Abate and De Sciglio could miss out on Sunday, this is a worrying statistic.

Missing Pieces

Looks like Abate and De Sciglio will miss out, along with Alex, so Pippo’s got some tough choices to make at the back again. Muntari is also injured, while Essien is suspended.

Substitutes Rincon and the young Mandragora are unavailable for Gasperini.

Who? Me!?

Who? Me!?

Possible Line-up

Diego Lopez

Bonera – Rami – Mexes – Armero

Van Ginkel – De Jong – Saponara

Honda – Menez – El Shaarawy

Look, it’s not ideal, but it earned three points last Sunday and there are a lot of positions where few choices exist. This back line was surprisingly solid last Sunday, and with the two starting fullbacks out it looks like we’re in for another Bonera show, and all the twists and turns that entails. Armero doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence either, but the center back pairing looks fine as long as good Mexes shows up again. If evil Mexes appears we’re in for some trouble.

If De Jong is fit, he goes, otherwise it’s Poli I guess because I doubt Montolivo is ready for a full start. I could be wrong. Van Ginkel earned himself another look at the very least, and nothing against Bonaventura, but I’d like to see if Saponara can help Milan hold onto the ball and keep up that pressure just a bit more. Jack likely gets the start anyway.

No need to tinker up top. It’s by no means a perfect attacking trident, but one hopes that as they continue playing together they will gel a bit more. I’d still like to see Menez looking to set up others more, but if his dribbling continues to pay dividends I can’t say it will displease me if he doesn’t.

The young Dutchman looked good. Those jerseys still don't.

The young Dutchman looked good. Those jerseys still don’t.

What to Watch for:

Danger Man – You know who I am going to say, don’t you? Of course you do! It’s Matri. And it’s not sarcastic. On loan from a side that clearly did not recognize the talent they had at their disposal (OK that was a little sarcastic), Matri has proven himself a capable striker once again over the first part of this campaign. Genoa’s leader in goals and assists, Matri will certainly have a point to prove to his parent club on Sunday. Written off as little more than Allegri’s pet by the Rossoneri faithful, our scorn could very realistically come back to bite us. Do I want him back though? No. No. Don’t go too far.

Coppa Italia After Effects – Genoa may not have lost in Serie A in months, but they were beaten 2-0 at Empoli in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday. While they didn’t field a full strength side, they did throw Pinilla and Matri on in the second half to try to salvage the match. It will be interesting to see how they respond, especially if Milan can finally get an early goal and take some more wind out of their sails. There could be a tiredness factor as well, but the loss could also have been a wake up call. I think it will be important for Milan to set the tone early as they did against Udinese in the hopes of kicking Genoa while they’re still down.

About Dave Lamb

Dave Lamb is a lifelong Milan supporter, public school teacher, and aspiring stand-up comedian living in Boston. You can follow him on twitter @DaveLambComedy

One Thought on “Serie A Preview: Genoa v. AC Milan

  1. RossoneriFido on December 7, 2014 at 5:14 AM said:

    Thanks Dave.
    I think all of Marri’s goals were away from home. So I think we are safe unless Bonera Armero or Mexes have sonething else to say.
    Forza Milan.

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