Genoa vs. AC Milan, Preview: Resurgent Grifone look to spring Milanese surprise

Claudio Villa

The league table suggests this will be a comfortable win for Milan. The form table, however, reveals it could be rather more of a challenge.

Since Davide Ballardini took over from Gigi Delneri, Genoa have improved dramatically, and they've only lost once since January. They're still not comfortable, sitting only a place outside the relegation zone, though the five point buffer they have built up looks reasonably safe.

Unfortunately Ballardini did lose his first game since taking charge in the last round, as Roma ran out 3-1 winners at the Olimpico, though that shouldn't worry the grifone too much, now that the giallorossi have a coach that actually looks like he cares about defending.

If Genoa are in reasonably good form, they've got nothing on their opponents in this game. Someone slipped something in AC Milan's turkey, as they are still unbeaten in the league since Christmas -- not forgetting them toppling the mighty Barcelona.

With the Champions League seeming out of the question for Max Allegri's team a couple of months ago, their unbeaten streak has seen them surge into third place, with a strike force capable of matching anyone in the division. But, with the second leg of that aforementioned tie with Barça coming up in mid-week, their concentration may not be fully at the Luigi Ferraris on Friday night.

An intimidating ground even when the Genoa ultras aren't demanding the players' shirts off their backs, it won't be easy for Milan. They've only won once at the Marassi since 2007. Genoa do, however, have a fair few absentees. capitano Marco Rossi, star midfielder (and Milan target) Juraj Kucka, Thomas Manfredini, Matuzalém, Rubén Olivera, Antonio Floro Flores and Enis Nadarević are all out, weakening them significantly.

Milan, on the other hand, only have Nigel De Jong unavailable, though Mario Balotelli will probably start from the bench, still recovering from a slight knock.

Genoa Injuries and Suspensions

Marco Rossi, Thomas Manfredini, Matuzalém, Rubén Olivera, Antonio Floro Flores and Enis Nadarević (injured); Juraj Kucka (suspended)

AC Milan Injuries and Suspensions

Nigel De Jong (injured)

Match Date/Time: Friday 8th March 2013, 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET

Venue: Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa, Italy

TV: Sky Calcio 1, Premium Calcio (Italy); beIN Sport en Español, beIN SPORT, RAI Internazionale (U.S.); ESPN UK / HD (U.K.)

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