Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan
Saturday, November 23, 19:45 Hrs GMT
AC Milan will be looking to get their season back on track when they welcome Genoa at home this weekend. Bad losses in Serie A has raised a lot of questions on their ability to sustain in the top-most tier of Italian football. A very busy December awaits Milan and if they fail to pull up their socks during this phase, they might slip further down the table.
Genoa, on the other hand, have had a mixed run so far, and they presently lie seventh on the table. Genoa have been strong travelers, with their most significant victory coming against Lazio in November. In contrast to Milan, Genoa have a relatively simpler run till next year and they should consolidate their position now rather than later.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Milan will be missing the likes of Pazzini, El Shaarawy, Silvestre, De Sciglio, Amelia, Nocerino, Zaccardo due to injury and Montolivo due to suspension. The absence of Pazzini and El Shaarawy has hampered Milan with Balotelli not playing at the same level as last season. Milan have appeared clueless inside the box on more than one occasion and they will be hoping for a quick return of either the Pharaoh or Pazzini soon. The latest to join the injured list at Milan are Zaccardo, who sustained a left ankle injury and Amelia, who has a meniscus problem in his left knee.
Needless suspensions have hampered Milan more than injuries so far this season with the latest victim being Montolivo. As if their worst start to a season since 1981 was not enough, Milan even failed to beat Chievo, who are hopelessly lying in the relegation zone in their previous match. However, the worst outcome of that match was not the final score-line, it was the second yellow to Montolivo and now their captain is suspended for Genoa. While talks of change in hierarchy has been around for quite some time, Milan would be foolish to let go of Galliani – a fan who has been with Milan longer than anyone else. Knee-jerk reactions does not yield any result and the junior Berlusconi needs to keep this in mind before throwing away Uncle Fester. Needless to say, things can and in all probability, will get worse for Milan this season but more than anything else, the key decision-makers at the club should stay away from hacking and changing everything at the club.
Allegri will field a 4-3-3 formation for this match with Abbiati manning the posts. Their back-line will be formed by Abate on the right, Emanuelson on the left with Mexes and Zapata forming the central defensive pair. Mexes returned to the starting line-up recently and his presence was sorely missed at the back, which is clearly bereft of proper defensive players. The midfield will see the likes of Poli playing on the right, Muntari playing on the left with De Jong pulling the strings from the middle of the park in the absence of Montolivo.
The forward line sees the likes of Robinho on the right, Kaka on the left with Balotelli playing through the center. These three players can terrorize any defensive set-up on their day but somehow they have not been able to click together. Balotelli has been a different player since was repeatedly suspended. In the end, it might all come down to how Kaka performs and combines with these two at the top.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Abbiati(GK); Abate, Mexes, Zapata, Emanuelson; Poli, De Jong, Muntari; Robinho, Balotelli, Kaka
Genoa will be missing the likes of Gamberdini and Ze Eduardo due to injury. The Marassi outfit was struggling to win matches earlier this season, a result which saw the ousting of Liverani from the helm. After replacing Liverani, former Internazionale coach Gasperini has led Genoa to their fourth win in their last five Serie A outings – something no one would have expected from this club. However, all is not going well for Genoa if recent reports are to be believed. Rumor has it that Enrico Preziosi and Antonio Rosati have apparently fallen out against one another – a move which will hamper the club greatly. Although Genoa has released a statement clarifying that nothing is wrong; one wonders how someone can make smoke without any fire.
Genoa have been very strong this season in protecting their lead as they always look to attack down the wings and play aerial balls more often than not. This will surely test the Milan defense, who have a proven weakness against aerial duels. However, they are weak in defending attacking down the wings from the opposition. They are also very weak in holding on to possession but that should not be any trouble against Milan. Chievo had 25% possession in their match against Milan and still they came out with a point.
Genoa will deploy a 3-4-3 formation with Perin between the bars. Perin has been quite impressive under the bars this season and it is quite clear why Milan wanted him in their ranks during the summer transfer window. The three-man back-line will be formed by former Rossonero Antonini, on the right, Manfredini on the left with Portanova playing through the center. The midfield sees the likes of Vrsaljko on the right, Marchese on the left, with Biondini and Matuzalem being the central midfield pair. The forward line is formed by Santana on the right, Gilardino through the center and Antonelli on the left. For Genoa, Gilardino leads the scoring chart with 5 goals so far.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-4-3): Perin(GK); Antonini, Portanova, Manfredini; Vrsaljko, Biondini, Matuzalem, Marchese; Santana, Gilardino, Antonelli
Player to Watch Out For
Kaka has been impressive since returning to Milan from Real Madrid in the summer. While Balotelli has been remarkably off-color and with El Shaarawy being injured for a major portion of the matches, the onus has fallen on the prodigal son and he has delivered so far. Maybe the number of goals has not been the same as his first coming at Milan, but his mere presence has lifted the flagging morale of the squad on many occasion. Although Montolivo is the present captain, Kaka is the one who often leads the squad on the field. He has been inspirational so far but the fans should not pin all their hopes on the Brazilian. If Kaka continues his brilliant rapport with Robinho on the field, Genoa will have a tough time this weekend.
Milan 2 – 1 Genoa
Milan endured the worst start to the season and from the looks of it, their fortunes have indeed flown south this year. However, not everything is lost, and Milan will be looking to hold on to those good things once they welcome Genoa at San Siro. Currently, Genoa lies above Milan and a victory by Milan will close that gap considerably and help them to qualify for Europe next year.