Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan
Saturday, Oct 27, 2012; 18:45 Hrs GMT
Massimo Ambrosini has stated this is the toughest moment he is experiencing in his 17 year long association with AC Milan and there’s no possible element of exaggeration in what the club captain is feeling right now. The team continues going from bad to worse and with every single result, fans hope things cannot get any worse, only to see their hopes being shattered in the very next game. The domestic woes have now been carried forward in Europe too and with the latest defeat in the Champions League at the hands of Malaga, Milan have now seriously jeopardized their chances of qualification to the next round of the competition.
Nothing is going right for the club presently and amidst the uncertainties over the future of Max Allegri, Milan host Genoa on Saturday with the hope of steadying the sinking ship at home. To be fair, the team’s performance over the trip to Andalusia was far from the worst of the season but somehow things simply refuse to turn into Milan’s favour. Various combinations of players in different formations have been tried but nothing has clicked so far. The argument of Allegri being too rigid with his preferred formations too holds no relevance now since Allegri has already tried three different shapes this season. Much to his disappointment, he has failed with each of them.
Genoa on the other hand, though only having collected two points more than what Milan have, are five places above their hosts for the weekend sitting 10th on the league table. The heartbreaking defeat to AS Roma at home after securing a two goal lead must have greatly hampered their confidence coming in to this game but even a third division side should feel confident ahead of facing Milan at this stage – such are the times.
Team News & Tactical Brief
Despite Galliani being repeatedly assertive about Allegri’s job being safe, one can barely ignore the lore with every passing moment. To be fair to Allegri, the squad has been greatly depleted with Milan selling a host of superstars over the summer but some believe the squad isn’t as bad as the results make it look. Somewhere Allegri is doing something wrong and has probably failed to motivate the younger crop of players in making them value the prestige of the shirt they are playing for.
However, even after the defeat to Malaga, Galliani has been vocal about the management extending their full support to Allegri but one might just feel Allegri is playing with their patience. One more discouraging result over the weekend and he could invite enormous trouble his way. He did experiment with a 3-4-3 formation against Malaga on Wednesday and it looks like he might continue the same way.
Marco Amelia will start between the sticks while the three man defence will constitute Bonera in the central position with Mexes and Acerbi on either side of his. Bonera was solid against Malaga but consistency has never been his forte. Milan are harbouring great hopes out of the duo of Mexes and Acerbi for this season and so far they have failed to win the confidence of the fans. Considering the troubles surrounding the club, it’s high time both of them delivered a reassuring and commendable performance in defence.
Mattia De Sciglio has been one of the few bright sparks from the season and he has a very important role to play in this new style of play Milan are trying to adapt to. He shall once again start from the right and his versatility might come handy if he’s asked to switch flanks to accommodate a substitution in the middle of the game. The crux of the midfield will be formed by Montolivo and De Jong. Though Ambrosini had a decent game in the midweek, it will be too much to expect from his aging legs to deliver a similar performance for the second time in a week. Montolivo has been one of the better performers from the season and with the new formation that offers more protection in the centre of the park, he may find the luxury to focus more on the attack and show some more intention to penetrate.
De Jong shall restrict himself to be the destroyer in the midfield and add numbers to the fragile looking defence of Milan. Antonio Nocerino should be given a starting place once again after being dropped from the side for the Malaga game. Nocerino does not add any serious width to the attack and may mainly drift in once on the ball but he has proved to be a better player when licensed to advance in the opposition half. He has had an abysmal season so far but Allegri is not at much choice in this department.
The three pronged attack that was tried over the midweek had also been deployed by Tassoti in the home game against Cagliari and it has produced better results since there is no reliance on a player connecting the midfield to the attack. The entire midfield plays a yard or two above their position than in a 4-3-1-2 and players like Emanuelson and El Shaarawy who start from the two flanks do have the propensity to drop deep and win the ball to channelize an attacking move. At the tip of the attacking line, Giampaolo Pazzini will take his position as Pato is still not deemed fit enough to start. The Brazilian however will certainly be introduced in the game sooner or later.
Probable Starting Lineup [3-4-3]: Amelia; Mexes, Bonera, Acerbi; De Sciglio, Montolivo, De Jong, Nocerino; Emanuelson, Pazzini, El Shaarawy
After nearly surviving relegation last season, Genoa have had a reasonably good start to the new season having won two and drawn three of their first eight games. The latest defeat at the hands of Roma exposed their defensive frailties and that will once again be tested against the Milan attack led by El Shaarawy, albeit of far inferior potency when compared to that of Roma.
The new signings have been instantly effective this season for Genoa. Marco Borriello has already registered three goals to his name while the Juventus wonderkid Ciro Immobile too has been into limelight. Luigi Delneri is known for grinding out the best of the provincial sides in Italy and he’s once again expected to do a good job – this time with the oldest club in Calcio. Genoa have played in different variants of 4-4-2 this season but Delneri is expected to revert back to the classical formation with a two man attack against Milan.
The experienced Sebastian Frey will guard the Genoa net with Cesare Bovo and Andreas Granqvist in front of him forming the heart of the defence. The central defenders will be flanked by Mario Sampirisi and Emiliano Moretti. Genoa will field a conservative four man midfield where Juraj Kucka and Felipe Seymour will occupy the central positions whereas skipper Jankovic and Antonelli will add width on either ends. The two man frontline will be made up of Immobile and Borriello, who have been in decent goal-scoring form of late.
Probable Starting Lineup [4-4-2]: Frey; Sampirisi, Granqvist, Bovo, Moretti; Jankovic, Kucka, Seymour, Antonelli; Immobile, Borriello
- This is Milan’s worst start to a season in 71 years.
- Milan have won only one of their four home games yet, losing three of them.
- Barring the top five sides on the table, no other team has scored more goals than Genoa in the season so far (10).
Players To Watch Out For
Riccardo Montolivo (Milan)
The ex-Fiorentina midfield general has been one of the better performers at Milan this season and the new formation might suit his game more and may allow his attacking potential to flourish. Montolivo will need to be more decisive with his attacking moves and focus more on creating opportunities for Milan going forward.
Ciro Immobile (Genoa)
The Juventus academy kid set the Serie B afire with champions Pescara last season. He has had a great opportunity to shine with Genoa where he’s bound to receive decent playing time. Against a shaky looking Milan defence Immobile must rise to the occasion and make the most of Milan’s defensive shortcomings.
Milan 2-2 Genoa
This one should be an open game and considering the defensive errors that both the teams are prone to, parity should be the order of the day.
Blast From The Past