Serie A Preview: Genoa v. AC Milan

Date: Sunday, September 27, 2015

Kickoff: 6:30 AM ET (USA) / 12:30 CET (ITA)

League Position: Milan (7), Genoa (16)

Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa, Italy

Well we saw the good, the bad, but thankfully not the ugly enough to ultimately blow a great first half against Udinese on Tuesday. The defense needs work, clearly. But with struggling Genoa as hosts this Sunday Milan have the chance to string together three Serie A wins for the first time since the 2013/2014 season.

We’ve scored 3 goals in both of the past two matches so the offense seems to be humming along OK. Balotelli’s performance was obviously highly encouraging and Jack’s scored twice in two.

But we barely hung on during the midweek by just totally shutting down defensively for the start of the second half. The Alex substitution was disastrous, and we seem to be still so prone to these lapses. Still, we’ve found way to win where maybe last season we wouldn’t.

Genoa are a beatable squad, and we should be having another three points here. The last couple of seasons should have taught us not to take anything for granted though, so Mihajlovic better have them ready to go on Sunday.

How many coaches have dreamed of doing this to Mario?

How many coaches have dreamed of doing this to Mario?

Tale of the Tape

First 5 Matches:

Milan: LWLWW
Genoa: LWLLL

Not only have Genoa lost their last three on the trot, they’ve failed to score in each of those matches. Actually their two goals both came in their only win, so they’ve been shutout 4 out of 5 matches to start the season. Milan, on the other hand, are yet to keep a clean sheet.

[Read in Alexi Lalas voice] Set pieces! We’ve started scoring from them! We’re still conceding from them! Balo’s magic and Zapata’s converted corner gave us 4 set piece goals on the year, but our occasional lack of defensive concentration is once again highlighted by the 3 goals we’ve given up from set pieces in just the first 5 matches. Genoa have let 2 get past them without converting one of their own thus far.

Genoa have averaged as many shots per match as the Rossoneri (12), and have slightly higher possession (53% to 49%) and passing accuracy (81% to 78%), yet they’ve scored a quarter of the goals tallied by their visitors. Some squads can survive without a true striker, as Genoa will have to this week, but Barcelona they most certainly are not. They’re more like Arsenal when Wenger tries to be cute.

Genoa’s shots per match average is questionable too, with over 60% coming from outside the box. Milan have been victimized from long range more than we’d like in the recent past, but if they’re alert to this danger we might finally see an unblemished match from out back line.

Missing Pieces

Menez, Mexes, and Niang remain out, joined by Abate, Antonelli, and former Genoa man Kucka. For me none of these guys would be starting at this point anyway, but we do lack depth, especially at the back with all of them out.

Genoa’s biggest absence so far has been bright young keeper Perin. Pavoletti, who scored 6 goals in 10 games at the end of last season, has also been out, along with a few new signings yet to make an impact with the team.

Possible Line-up

Diego Lopez

Calabria – Zapata – Romagnoli – De Sciglio

Montolivo – De Jong – Bonaventura

Bertolacci

Bacca – Balotelli

Right back is Calabria’s job to lose at this point, and with Abate and Antonelli injured there’s no one breathing down his neck anyway. Except his manager maybe, who made a decision to remove this kid for reasons that will baffle me forever. That was a pretty nice header by Zapata and beyond maybe giving Ely a start, the Colombian seems the right choice. Romagnoli’s been solid, and De Sciglio has been much improved over most of what we saw last year if you ask me.

Looks like Montolivo is going to play. The question then is where? I briefly toyed with the idea of him as trequartista, but just couldn’t do it. I imagine he will play a similar role to what we saw against Udinese, with all the potential highs and evident lows that entails. De Jong is not the answer for all the midfield problems as Pete points out in his previous post, but for defensive purposes I feel he still needs to start. Bonaventura scores, so Bonaventura is in.

If Bertolacci’s ready to go I say give him a shot behind the strikers. If this is the formation we’re sticking with we need someone to take control of this position, and no one who’s played it yet has staked a strong claim.

Up front, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I’d like to see these two develop an understanding and I think we could be looking at a potent goalscoring duo. Luiz Adriano the unlucky man out. Maybe he plays behind the strikers, and he is the presumable first attacking substitution.

Look closely and you can see a rare, young attacking midfielder in his natural habitat.

Look closely and you can see a rare, young attacking midfielder in his natural habitat.

What to Watch for:

Danger Man – I mean, Pavoletti, I guess? Honestly this looks a rather toothless Genoa squad to me, with only the suspended Pandev possessing anything close to a real record of Serie A scoring. Pavoletti’s featured in only one match as a substitute this season though, as he’s still recovering from injury, so unless Milan find a way to make one of these players look dangerous (which is obviously not out of the question) it’s hard to tell who the real threat will be.

Substitutions – For the third round in a row I’ll be paying a lot of attention to this. I was not a huge fan of bringing on Poli for the attacking mid (Honda, in this case) late against Palermo because it seems like taking your foot off the gas in a tight game, and Mihajlovic did the same swap even earlier against Udinese. And the less said about the Alex for Calabria substitution, the better. Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things, but I am definitely not on the same wavelength as our manager when it comes to the substitutions. Winning solves a lot, but our second half performances in our past two matches seem to confirm to me that finishing matches could be an issue for us. Suspect substitutions certainly won’t help

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

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