Serie A giants AC Milan will look to get their season back on track when they travel to Genoa on Wednesday night.
Italian giants AC Milan have endured a difficult time in Serie A of late, losing two matches on the spin. This has left the Rossoneri three points behind early trendsetters Napoli after 14 games.
Milan were going toe to toe with Napoli in the league and were unbeaten in their first 12 games. However, successive defeats to Fiorentina and Sassuolo have since seen them fall behind. It has also allowed arch-rivals Inter Milan to catch up. The Nerazzurri are just a point behind Milan in the standings and could leap log them if results go their way this week. With a busy schedule coming up, Stefano Pioli’s side must rediscover their mojo and pick up momentum.
They travel to the Luigi Ferraris to take on a Genoa side struggling in the 18th spot. The Grifone have won just one game all season while drawing seven and losing the remaining six. It represents an excellent opportunity for the Rossoneri to end their losing streak and return to winning ways.
However, Pioli has some concerns over his defence. The so-far stellar rearguard has appeared porous in the last two games, conceding six goals across both games. They will need to be resolute at the back to ensure they don’t shoot themselves in the foot. In the opposition dugout, it will be none other than Milan legend Andriy Shevchenko. The Ukrainian faces a real fight on his hands to get the better of the Rossoneri.
It promises to be an intriguing game between two sides, both of whom need a win on the night. The Hard Tackle takes a look at what we can expect from both teams on Wednesday.
Team News & Tactics
— Genoa CFC (@GenoaCFC) November 30, 2021
Genoa have several players who will be unavailable on the night. Mohamed Fares, Felipe Caicedo, Domenico Criscito, Mattia Bani and Nikola Maksimovic are unlikely to feature given their recent injuries. Mattia Destro could also miss out against Milan.
Having won just one game all season, the onus is on Genoa to get a favourable result. In this approach, the manager Andriy Shevchenko looks set to go ahead with a rather versatile 3-5-2 system. Salvatore Sirigu looks set to start in goal behind the centre-back trio of Johan Vasquez, Andrea Masiello, and Davide Biraschi.
The trio of Nicolo Rovella, Milan Badelj, Stefano Sturaro will have the difficult job on the night as they look to establish a foothold for Genoa in midfield. The team that controls the midfield on the night could emerge as the winners. Stefano Sabelli and Andrea Cambiaso will offer the width on the flanks, with Caleb Ekuban and Goran Pandev set to start up front.
Given the names missing, the task against Milan will not be easy for Genoa. However, Milan have shown themselves to be vulnerable, which the home side should try to exploit.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Sirigu; Biraschi, Vasquez, Masiello; Sabelli, Sturaro, Badelj, Rovela, Cambiaso; Pandev, Ekuban
Stefano Pioli’s side will be without Alessio Romagnoli, who misses out due to a suspension. The Italian scored against Sassuolo but endured a difficult night that ended with him getting sent off. With him out, Fikayo Tomori looks set to return to the starting XI. The young Englishman will partner Simon Kjaer in defence.
With Mike Maignan back in goal, it represents an excellent last line of defence for the Rossoneri. French duo Pierre Kalulu and Theo Hernandez will start at full-back and be tasked with providing width on the overlap. Both Franck Kessie and Sandro Tonali started on the bench at the weekend. It turned out to be a poor call as Sassuolo dominated the Milan midfield. The aforementioned duo look set to return to the starting lineup.
The double-pivot should give the trio of Rafael Leao, Brahim Diaz and Alexis Saelemaekers the platform to launch forward forays. Given the anonymous performance they put at the weekend, the heat will be on the trio to make the difference.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has looked out of sorts since his return from injury. However, with Ante Rebic and Olivier Giroud out injured, Pioli has no option but to go with the giant Swede. Milan will also be without Davide Calabria and Samu Castillejo, who are also both out injured.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Hernandez, Tomori, Kjaer, Kalulu; Kessie, Tonali; Leao, Diaz, Saelemaekers; Ibrahimovic
- AC Milan have won six of their last nine matches against Genoa, losing just one (W6, D2, L1).
- AC Milan are unbeaten in their last four visits to Genoa (W3, D1).
- Genoa have drawn the most Serie A games this season (7). Milan, meanwhile, have managed to draw twice.
- A win for Genoa will condemn Milan to three consecutive losses in Serie A for the first time since 2019.
- Genoa have managed to concede 26 goals in Serie A this season. Only Spezia, Cagliari and Salernitana have let in more.
Player to Watch
Milan have looked open at the back in the last two league games against Fiorentina and Sassuolo, conceding six goals over the two matches. While the rearguard flopped, one man who stood out was Simon Kjaer. The Dane finished 18th in the Ballon d’Or standings on Monday.
The 32-year-old not only held his own at the back but tried to organize the defence the best he could. Kjaer also attempted to play long balls out to his strikers, a tactic that was employed predominantly against Fiorentina. Unfortunately, those around him did not meet the standards.
With the game against Genoa a must-win given Milan’s title aspirations, they must remain resolute at the back. The better they can maintain their shape in defence, the more freedom their attackers can use to impact proceedings at the other end. It would not go amiss to say that Kjaer has to play a starring role on the night.
Genoa 1-2 AC Milan
Given Milan’s poor form, the stage is set for Genoa to take the game to the visitors on the night. While the home side will cause Milan troubles, the Rossoneri have enough in their tank to get the job done. Having lost the last two games, the stakes are high for Pioli’s men.
With a reaction expected of them, it is time that Milan finally responded to the challenge and ended their two-match losing streak. While the performance on the night might not be as dominant as expected, it should be enough for the club to come out on top.