MARK O'HAIRE'S (@MarkOHaire) European NAP heads to Serie A on Saturday night.
Genoa v Inter Milan | Saturday 17th February 2018, 19:45 | BT Sport
As recently as December, Inter Milan were sitting pretty at the top of the tree in Italy. An unbeaten 15-game start (W12-D3-L0) had propelled the Nerazzurri to the summit of Serie A but supporters dreaming of a first Scudetto since 2010.
Luciano Spaletti’s side were one point clear of current league leaders Napoli on 3rd December but fast forward 10 weeks and eight league matches and Inter suddenly find themselves 15 points adrift of the table-toppers.
A W1-D6-L2 run has sapped all optimism out of the Nerazzurri as they’ve surrendered their early advantage in meek fashion. Last weekend’s 2-1 triumph against Bologna at San Siro was their first Serie A triumph in that 10-week spell and it was achieved in shaky and tentative fashion.
Bologna – missing their captain and top goalscorer – finished the fixture with nine men and Inter required a stunning late winner from youngster Yann Karamoh to settle the encounter. Their only other victory since December came on penalties in the Coppa Italia, against second-tier Pordenone.
There’s been a huge overreliance on Mauro Icardi in attack – scorer of 18 of their 40 league goals – and with the Nerazzurri skipper absent again this weekend, along with Ivan Perisic, it’s difficult to see where Inter’s spark will arrive from. Their laborious approach in their 4-2-3-1 system just isn’t working.
Nerazzurri too short to consider
The visitors have scored just seven goals in nine games with last weekend the first occasion they’ve notched at least twice in that run of results. Only two of those tussles produced three goals or more whilst on the road, nine clubs have fired in more on-target attempts than Inter.
In their current guise, the Nerazzurri look ripe for opposing, especially so when looking at Genoa’s rebirth under Davide Ballardini. The Grifone have been completely rejuvenated with a suffocating and organised defensive approach that has consistently worked wonders.
Ballardini arrived after the November international break with the Rossoblu entrenched in the relegation zone having won just once in their opening 12 encounters, picking up six points (W1-D3-L8). They’ve since won half of their following 12 outings with only Napoli and Juventus accruing more points.
Genoa had leaked 19 goals in their first 12 fixtures – they’ve shipped just six in their 12 tussles under Ballardini’s watch, including seven clean sheets. The 3-5-2 has already suffocated numerous opponents with the Grifone grabbing a 1-1 draw with Roma, beating Lazio 2-1 and only losing 1-0 away to Juventus.
The hosts don’t offer a huge amount in attack – only once scoring twice or more in a game under their new head coach – with only Benevento and Sassuolo scored less often but I’d want Genoa onside in a tight, ugly encounter such as this.
The betting angle
Their record at the Marassi is far from impressive but they’ve beaten inter in each of their last four here and should have the tools to deny the Nerazzurri back-to-back victories for the first time in three months.
With that in mind, I’ll back Genoa Double Chance and Under 3.5 Goals at 20/21 (188BET). Genoa’s 12 games under Ballardini are averaging just 1.33 goals per-game with 10 featuring fewer than three goals and nine even paying-out for Under 1.5 Goals backers.
Seven of the past nine matches at the Marassi have been settled by two goals or fewer whilst 14 of Inter’s 24 fixtures overall have followed suit, as we as eight of their 10 away trips when excluding the bottom-two.
Genoa v Inter Milan – Genoa double chance and Under 3.5 Goals (20/21 188BET)