The future of coach Massimiliano Allegri could well be at stake if AC Milan fail to end a run of three consecutive defeats when they host Genoa at the San Siro on Saturday (7.45pm, live on ESPN).
The latest of those defeats came at the hands of Malaga on Wednesday. The result is unlikely to be crucial in deciding whether or not Milan qualify for the Champions League knockout stages but it certainly did little to appease supporters frustrated by the two successive Serie A losses that preceded it.
Allegri has tinkered with the formation of his team on numerous occasions already this season and did so again away in Spain, utilising three central defenders in what was supposed to be a 3-4-3 formation, but ended up forced back into a 5-4-1 for much of the match.
He is yet to find the magic formula and looked no closer to doing so on Wednesday. Malaga ramped things up a notch in the second half following an even first period, taking control of the match and scoring a nicely constructed goal for a 1-0 victory. Milan were mediocre – lacking imagination or precision.
It has been a similar story in their Serie A campaign to date: two wins, one draw and five defeats yielding just seven points from their first eight matches of the season. With the likes of former players Mauro Tassotti and Frank Rijkaard waiting in the wings to replace him, Allegri needs a swift change of fortune if he is to hold onto his position.
This summer’s upheaval, including the departures of star players Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Paris Saint-Germain, has seriously thinned out the Milan squad, leaving precious little quality.
They have kept just one clean sheet so far this season and despite the best efforts of youngster Stephen El Shaarawy (scorer of five of Milan’s nine league goals), have often been blunt up front, failing to score on three occasions.
Such form sees Milan currently occupying 15th place in the Serie A table, level on points with 18th place Pescara and already 11 points shy of third place Lazio, holders of the final Champions League qualifying spot. They are also behind Saturday’s opponents, Genoa, who despite being two points better off than Milan saw fit to dispose of coach Luigi De Canio following last weekend’s 4-2 defeat at home to Roma.
Genoa had burst out of the traps into a two goal lead within 15 minutes but capitulated thereafter, conceding twice to go in level at the break and then twice more in a second half dominated by the away side. The result was enough to make up the mind of Genoa president Enrico Preziosi, who sacked De Canio and replaced him with Luigi Delneri.
Delneri, whose appointment caused a degree of controversy due to his past with Genoa’s great rivals Sampdoria, has been out of the game since his sacking by Juventus in the summer of 2011. He inherits a decent squad that would appear to have the necessary personnel to allow his favoured 4-4-2 system to function effectively.
He will, however, be hampered by injuries in the early weeks of his reign. Peruvian wide midfielder Juan Manuel Vargas and top-scorer Marco Borriello are both likely to be out of action until late November. Delneri will hope that young striker Ciro Immobile, scorer of 28 goals for Pescara in Serie B last season, can step up to the mark in Borriello’s absence.
Inventive, if at times infuriating, Chilean playmaker Cristobal Jorquera will also be missing for the Milan match, but should be back for the home game against Fiorentina on Thursday.
Genoa were just one place off the relegation spots at the end of last season and had the worst defensive record of any team in the league. The Sampdoria side that Delneri led to a fourth place finish in 2009/10 conceded little more than a goal a game and he will probably look to tighten up the defence before he tackles any other issues.
AC Milan v Genoa Betting Tips Verdict
Two of the three coaching changes in Serie A so far this season have seen the new coach win on his debut, but with some key players missing through injury it seems unlikely Delneri’s Genoa (7/1 to win with BetVictor) will emerge victorious on Saturday.
That said, if he can get some solid defensive work done on the training ground there is no reason why his charges cannot come away with a draw against a lacklustre Milan (4/7 to win with Ladbrokes & William Hill) side who do not offer much of a goal threat.