Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genova
Monday, April 7, 2013
The ongoing campaign has been a tumultuous one for Genoa and so has been their form of late. Sitting reasonably safe above the relegation zone, they do not have much to be apprehensive about for the remainder of the season but at the same time, do not have much to look forward to either – which is not dramatically different from AC Milan, their transfer buddies of sorts and visitors for a Monday late night kick-off.
Team News & Tactical Brief
For a club battling for survival for the better part of the previous season, Genoa have showed incredible stability and patience with the wily old man of Italian football, Gian Piero Gasperini. The Rossoblu have gone very quiet about their business this season hardly garnering much attention from the neutrals. But their fans won’t complain. They’d any day take a season like this ahead of the ones with serious doubts mounted over retaining a place in the top flight. With patience and confidence being extended his way, Gasperini has done pretty well so far but finishing the concluding phase of the season on a high is very important.
The latest 3-0 defeat to Verona did not bode too well for Genoa and Gasperini would certainly expect his troops to deliver better on Monday. However, they’d surely have preferred facing Milan two months in past when the Rossoneri were failing to place one piece correctly in what seemed like an unending jigsaw puzzle. Things aren’t the same anymore and it will take Genoa something special to add three points to their kitty off this fixture.
Gasperini has been an exponent of his 3-5-2 game for a long time and his tactical ideas haven’t changed with his jobs. Genoa should continue to field in the same shape against Seedorf’s men with the two wingbacks folding back time and again to give the formation a 5-3-2 look while defending. Former Milan fullback Luca Antonini is expected to be back for this game and he should slot into the three man defensive line accompanied by Sebastian De Maio and Nicolas Burdisso. Milan do have a very mobile attacking combination where players do keep exchanging positions which makes marking them even more difficult. The Genoa defence should thus be seen guarding the zone as a whole. The fullbacks too should draw a few yards deeper while off the ball. Marco Motta will take his position on the right while Luca Antonelli should regain his natural left flank after playing in defence last week.
Alberto Gilardino, another former Milan player will lead the attacking line for the hosts. While his ball playing ability is still good enough at this level, he wouldn’t be the safest bet to win the aerial battles every time. Lazio’s on-loan forward Giuseppe Sculli is a seasoned customer in Serie A and should partner up with Gilardino on the night. It’s never been the hardest job to unlock the Milan defence but that they haven’t conceded one in their two wins on the trot must be playing on Gasperini’s mind.
Probable Starting Lineup [3-5-2]: Perin; Antonini, De Maio, Burdisso; Motta, Sturaro, Bertolacci, Cofie, Antonelli; Gilardino, Sculli
Rossoneri have not won three league games on the run this season and Seedorf must be looking forward to cash in on the recently found momentum and find some sort of winning streak. Milan still harbour the rather slim hopes of making it to the Europa League playoff spot but one more time they drop points and those hopes will be only as significant as Gabriel’s role in this squad.
In the previous two games, not only have Milan bagged the six possible points, they’ve showed signs of a plan being in place and that there’s a foundation being laid for a stronger future. The away win over Fiorentina in particular was a morale boosting one for Seedorf’s men and the performance that followed against Chievo was unsurprisingly commanding. The belief and character has been abundantly on show and the fans have a few reasons to be hopeful of witnessing better things sooner than they might imagine.
Riccardo Montolivo is back in action after missing out on a fortnight’s football. This immediately puts all the doubt and deliberation over the midfield as Milan have two players available who naturally pick themselves for the two slots. Nigel De Jong has easily been the most consistent performer for Milan ever since his arrival in the summer and perfectly complements Montolivo with his solid and assuring presence in the centre.
Seedorf’s persistence with Kaka has been criticized in some circles but the Brazilian’s performance last week where he reached the 300 appearance milestone for Milan might immune him against the cynics for the time being. However, Kaka’s selection denies Keisuke Honda to start in his preferred position and fans are starting to lose patience with his limited influence he brings to the table in a wider role. Flanking Kaka from the other end will be Milan’s signing of the season – Adel Taarabt. He has adapted to Seedorf’s system like that proverbial duck to water and has been one massive figure in the side’s mini-revival of sorts. His pace, aggression and work rate have all been top notch and has so far been fairly consistent with his performances too. Mario Balotelli will continue to lead the attacking line and is more than likely to find the back of the net one more time.
Probable Starting Lineup [4-2-3-1]: Abbiati; Zaccardo, Bonera, Rami, Emanuelson; Montolivo, De Jong; Honda, Kaka, Taarabt; Balotelli
Players To Watch Out For
The young Italian custodian is a media sensation already and is on the radar of many a top European club. Milan themselves are rumoured to be in talks with Genoa to secure his services as a long term replacement for Christian Abbiati. Perin is already touted as the successor to the legendary Gianluigi Buffon for the Italian national side and his performances this season haven’t betrayed the hype around him. Mario Balotelli has missed two penalties his entire career and one of them has happened against you know who.
Genoa 0-2 Milan
The newly injected vigour has made Milan look a different side over the last couple of weeks and the momentum should help extending the streak on their trip to Genova. A goal each from Balotelli and Kaka should be a safe bet for the night. Genoa and Perin should certainly show a lot of character and resistance but at the end of the day, the Rossoneri shouldn’t find it too hard to overpower them.