Defending champions Inter Milan will be keen to end their three-game winless streak when they face relegation-threatened Genoa in Serie A on Friday.
Inter Milan looked set to pull away in the Serie A title race at the beginning of February. However, recent losses to AC Milan and Sassuolo in the league coupled with the defeat to Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League have laid bare the Nerazzurri’s soft underbelly. Simone Inzaghi’s side, however, have the opportunity to get their season back on track when they travel to the Luigi Ferraris Stadium to take on a struggling Genoa side.
Il Grifone are currently six points from safety with 12 games to go. The arrival of new boss Alexander Blessin has seen Genoa improve and draw four games in a row. A stalemate against Inter will see the German become the first manager since Sinisa Mihajlovic to draw his first five games in charge of a club in Serie A.
Genoa will be up for the game and hope to use the home advantage to their benefit. Inter are the superior side but go into the match lacking momentum. While it should prove to be an easy game on paper, Inzaghi will hope that his side can make their advantage in quality count on the pitch.
The Nerazzurri trail arch-rivals and league leaders AC Milan by two points, having played a game less. A win on the night will see them go back to the summit by a slender one-point margin. It should at the very least provide the Italian giants with enough momentum to finish their campaign in a flourish.
With the Coppa Italia semi-finals against AC Milan also coming up, not to mention the return leg at Anfield, Inzaghi’s men face a pivotal few weeks that could decide their season. A win against Genoa will do well to restore confidence in the side. The Hard Tackle looks at how the two sides will line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.
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Alexander Blessin is Genoa’s third manager of the season and will have a difficult job on his hands to keep them up. At the very least, he has made them difficult to beat and has brought back a semblance of organisation to their gameplay.
?? Allenamento al Signorini, dai Genoa! pic.twitter.com/mXRTwa5CSp
— Genoa CFC (@GenoaCFC) February 22, 2022
This is reflected in their recent results. The German is as of yet unbeaten in the league with Genoa and has drawn all four of his matches at the helm so far. Whether Il Grifone will grab their first win under new management or be brought back to earth with a bang remains to be seen.
Inter loanee Zinho Vanheusden is ruled out for the match with a knee injury. He will be joined on the sidelines by Mattia Bani, Domenico Criscito, and Roberto Piccoli. This makes Blessin’s tasks all the harder.
The German is likely to deploy his side in a 4-2-3-1 formation that can double up as a 4-5-1 when needed. This will give the home side the bodies required to battle Inter in the middle of the pitch and starve Marcelo Brozovic of space. The Croatian has been the Nerazzurri’s lynchpin in midfield, and shackling him will certainly impact Inter’s ability to recycle the ball.
Veteran goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu will start in between the sticks, behind a back four of Silvan Hefti, Nikola Maksimovic, Leo Skiri Ostigard and Johan Vasquez. Stefano Sturaro and Milan Badelj will be tasked with anchoring the midfield and stopping Inter’s attacks in their tracks.
The trio of Nicolo Rovella, Nadiem Amiri and Caleb Ekuban will be responsible for creating openings upfront for striker Mattia Destro to take advantage of. Given the safety-first approach.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Sirigu; Hefti, Ostigard, Maksimovic, Vasquez; Sturaro, Badelj; Rovella, Amiri, Ekuban; Destro
Playtime is over for Inter, and it is time now that they make the results count. Inzaghi will be without the injured pair of Robin Gosens and Joaquin Correa for the night. Thankfully for Inter, Alessandro Bastoni and Marcelo Brozovic are available and will give them enough strength in two key positions on the pitch. Inzaghi has no other worries and has a nearly full-strength squad to pick from.
— Inter ??? (@Inter) February 24, 2022
The Italian has often stuck to his 3-5-2 formation, and it should be more of the same on Friday as well. Samir Handanovic will start in goal behind the usual back three of Milan Skriniar, Stefan de Vrij and Bastoni. The trio of Marcelo Brozovic, Hakan Calhanoglu and Nicolo Barella will fight for dominance in the middle of the pitch. At the same time, Ivan Perisic and Denzel Dumfries will look to wreak havoc on the wings.
Lautaro Martinez has failed to score in seven straight Serie A games, his worst return for the club in the last two years. He will be keen to make the difference at the top where he is expected to start alongside Alexis Sanchez. Edin Dzeko is likely to start on the bench and give Inzaghi an option to bring on if needed.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Handanovic; Skriniar, de Vrij, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Brozovic, Calhanoglu, Perisic; Sanchez, Martinez
- Inter Milan have won their last seven Serie A games against Genoa with an aggregate score of 25-0. Only three times in history has an Italian club won more consecutive games against the same opponent without conceding a goal.
- A draw on the night will see Genoa draw five top-flight games in a row for the first time since 1993.
- A defeat on the night will see Inter Milan lose two straight matches in Serie A for the first time since 2019. Curiously their three-match losing streak on that occasion also kicked off with a loss to Sassuolo.
- Inter Milan have conceded just 22 times in Serie A and boast the league’s second-best defensive record. Genoa, meanwhile, have let in 47 goals so far, a tally surpassed only by Salernitana and Spezia.
- Inter Milan are the league’s top scorers this season with 55 goals. Meanwhile, Genoa have the second-worst attack and have found the back of the net just 22 times.
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The Argentine is struggling to find the back of the net and is due a match-winning performance. Martinez continues to show off his industry but has failed to see it translate into goals. He has been unable to score in Inter’s last seven Serie A games and appears to have lost his clinical touch in the box.
Genoa hand the 24-year-old an excellent opportunity to rediscover his scoring touch. It is all the more important that he does so, given that Inter face a pivotal set of fixtures in the coming weeks that can define their season. Form is temporary, but class is permanent, and there is no better time than now for the Inter ace to rediscover his scoring touch.
Genoa 0-2 Inter Milan
While Genoa have shown more mettle in recent weeks, Inter not only have more quality on the pitch but also the need to rediscover their scoring touch. The home side could prove difficult to break down, but given the names on Inter’s roster, the gap in quality should ultimately prove telling. The Nerazzurri will be keen to take back their Scudetto fortunes into their own hands starting off with a victory on Friday night.