Milan face Genoa at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on Sunday night (18:00 CET kickoff), and Bart’s scouting report will help you know what to expect from the opponents.
Genoa by the Numbers
– 15th in shots per game (10.8)
– 12th in shots allowed per game (13.7)
– 6th in aerial wins per game (15.4)
– 19th in fouls per game (15.7)
– 16th in pass accuracy (77.8%)
Genoa’s offense could best be described as underwhelming. They strongly prefer to sit back in their own third and attack through counters. Primarily, Genoa likes to play long passes outside to their wingbacks in order to get a quick cross in. On occasion, Genoa’s midfield and center backs will play long passes straight forward to the strikers to try and allow them to work off each other. While they aren’t the most potent offense, they have started to click in the past few weeks.
There aren’t a great deal of strengths in respect to Genoa’s offense. However, they have used their strengths to full effect against both Inter and Lazio in the past few weeks. Genoa does a great job of using the full width of the field going forward. They switch the play well in the middle of attacks, which can make keeping track of their wingbacks difficult. On top of this, their wingbacks do a great job of coming up and joining the attack. They add a valuable dimension to an attack that would otherwise be subpar. Lastly, the strikers do a good job of playing off of each other. They’ll create a few chances for themselves every game through holding up the ball and then using quick short passes to find an opening.
Unfortunately for Genoa, they have some crippling offensive weaknesses. An obvious one is that if their wingbacks cannot get involved, they end up with a two-man attack. Their wingbacks need to be involved in just about everything for Genoa to excel. Additionally, Genoa has a serious problem stringing together passes. It’s pretty common for Genoa to turn the ball over when trying to make what would seem to be routine 20-meter passes. Any opposition that can press Genoa’s midfield hard will likely see them break. Genoa’s key weakness though is that their offense just isn’t potent. Even in games they have won recently there didn’t seem to be any real attacking intent form them.
Transition to Offense
Genoa’s one big offensive bright spot may be their ability to counter. If you look into their last few matches, they’ve created good opportunities through counter attacking (like their 1st goal against Lazio). The movement from their wingbacks when transitioning onto offense is stellar and makes them harder to defend when they’re on the break.
Additionally, Genoa does a pretty good job of switching the play in the middle of counters; defending a counter is difficult enough without the ball going from one wing to another. If Genoa can muster a goal against Milan, it will likely be the result of a counter attack.
Genoa’s defense is ultimately the reason they haven’t collapsed this year. They have been superb in their own third, only allowing 27 goals all season. They do this by sitting back with a 3-man defensive line and a 5-man midfield just above the box.
There are a lot of things Genoa do well when on the defensive side of the ball. Most obviously, they mark very tight and do a great job of suffocating their opponents in and around the box. They also do a great job of keeping opponents out of the center of the pitch and forcing them over to their wingbacks. Many teams that have a slow build up to their offense struggle in breaking down Genoa’s eight-man fortress.
While Genoa’s defense is no joke, they do have a big weakness. Because Genoa’s midfield sits so deep in their own half when they defend, they give opposition midfielders a lot of time to make decisions. Give any talented midfielder this much time 30 meters out and they will eventually find a killer pass or get a clean shot off on goal.
Transition to Defense
Genoa is pretty good at getting back and dropping into their base defense when they lose the ball. For the most part, their wingbacks are quick to join the defense after counters. However, every now and then both wingbacks won’t drop and this provides opponents a golden opportunity to take on Genoa’s 3 man back line. However, that sort of opportunity will likely be far and few.
Offensively, Genoa is really nothing special here. They have only managed 4 goals this season on set pieces. Defensively, they’re pretty clean and they have only conceded 5 goals here. Either way, it’s unlikely for Genoa to score or concede a goal on set pieces.
Good teams have struggled in past weeks to break down Genoa’s defense, but there are a couple ways to do this. Since they sit back so much, the most obvious answer would be to push forward with varied runs off the ball in an effort to confuse defenders. While this might work, and Genoa could eventually crack, it’s exactly what they would want to see. Flooding their box with players will more than likely result in Genoa getting to play to their biggest offensive strength, counter attacking. Another way teams have dealt with Genoa is to wait for windows where the wingbacks don’t track back and exploit them. While this works and gives teams a shot at only a 3-man back line, the opportunities to actually do this are far and few. Lazio tried this for a while and couldn’t break them down in transition.
While both of those tactics could work, there is a more reasonable one for Milan. It took Lazio over 50 minutes to figure this out (watch the goal they scored), but if you play crosses further back on the pitch aimed in towards the penalty spot; then you get chances against their 3-man back line without trying to pass through their 8 defenders. In the end, it either means getting opportunities on goal, or Genoa’s wingbacks will be forced to press higher up the field, making the final third less congested.
Either way, that plan works for Milan. They can cross the ball early through Rodriguez or Calabria onto the striker. Or once Genoa is forced to press higher, they can push the ball up to Suso and Çalhanoğlu.
Realistically, Milan should bounce back from Arsenal and win this match. Genoa isn’t much of an attacking threat. It might take time for Genoa to be broken down, but Milan are definitely capable of doing so.
What are your thoughts on how Milan should handle this game?