The 2018/19 Serie A season finally gets underway this weekend, with Genoa travelling to San Siro on Sunday evening to take on AC Milan. While the past few summers have seen great upheaval for the Rossoneri, this year has seen them become much more stable after US hedge fund Elliott Management effectively repossessed the club from Chinese owner Yonghong Li.
As a result they managed to successfully overturn UEFA’s decision to exclude them from the Europa League and, after some shrewd work on the transfer market, Milan can begin to look forward with genuine hope. Gennaro Gattuso remains in place as Coach, while signings like Gonzalo Higuain will bring some much needed quality to a frontline that was sorely lacking last term.
For their opponents meanwhile, another difficult campaign awaits. Genoa finished 12th in 2017/18 but were only six points above the relegation zone and owed much to goalkeeper Mattia Perin who has since left for Juventus. Boss Davide Ballardini will push his side hard, but in truth the Grifone can expect to be firmly stuck in the bottom half of the table for the foreseeable future.
While recent seasons have seen Milan struggle, they have had no problems dispatching Genoa, particularly on home soil. Indeed, the Rossoblu have not won at San Siro since April 2015 and have failed to score in each of their last two visits, also held goalless in each of the last three overall meetings between the two sides.
As a result, the odds on a home win are narrow, Karamba offering just 20/33 on a Milan victory, while it may also be worth considering having a bet on Genoa once again failing to find the back of the net. Backing against both teams to score with the same bookmaker is priced at 5/7 and, given that only two teams scored fewer goals than Ballardini’s men last term, that could be well worth considering as Gattuso is determined to bring the best from his team’s backline.
“We’ve got to avoid conceding goals at the end of each half,” he said after a friendly with Real Madrid last week. “It was a good performance overall, the side is in good shape and plays well. In general, I am happy, as we have strengthened this summer.”
One factor that cannot be overlooked is how strong Genoa were defensively last term, their performances at the back contrasting starkly with those aforementioned attacking woes. Indeed, only six Serie A teams conceded fewer goals than their tally of 43, with all of those sides qualifying for Europe as a result.
Furthermore, the Rossoblu had a poor end to last season but only lost their final three games by a single goal. That perhaps makes looking at goal totals an intriguing option here and 888sport has a range of options to consider, starting with under 2.5 goals being priced at 22/25 and going even lower brings an even higher price.
If we consider that Milan also struggled to score last season – netting 56 times in 38 matches – and remember that Higuain only returned to training last week, the best bookmakers that offer football have under 1.5 goals at 27/10 and it would be no surprise to see the Rossoneri win by just one goal.
Gonzalo Higuain has seemingly always enjoyed a fresh start, getting an assist in his first game for Real Madrid, netting three times in his first four outings for Napoli and then bagging a match winning effort for Juventus against Fiorentina back in 2016.
He has already made a similar start with Milan, netting the side’s only goal in that aforementioned 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid, while the Argentinian also struck for the national team when he made his full debut back in 2009.
It would therefore be no surprise to see Higuain’s name on the scoresheet once again here, with Unibet offering 3/1 on him being the first goal scorer against Genoa, or even 27/25 that he strikes at any time. Given his history, and the fact Milan are likely to dominate the game and that makes those odds well worth considering as the 30 year old looks to get his life in Rossonero off to a typically good start.