Genoa v Spal – Stadio Luigi Ferraris at 14:00
Genoa’s revival under the astute coaching of Davide Ballardini dissipated before the international break. The Grifone were entrenched in the bottom three of Serie A when the journeyman boss arrived on the scene during November but a run of W7-D3-L3 brought the Rossoblu up into mid-table.
Ballardini set out to improve a wretched defense as his first assignment at the Liguria club. Having leaked 19 goals in their opening 12 games, Ballardini’s influence and organization led Genoa to concede just six goals in that aforementioned 13-game streak.
A switch to 3-5-2 certainly seemed to aid the Grifone’s on-field fortunes as they held beat Inter Milan and held Roma at home, turned Lazio over on their travels and were only narrowly beaten by Juventus. However, the tide has turned since a dominating victory over Inter in mid-February.
Three successive losses without scoring against Bologna, Milan, and Napoli have pulled Genoa back into the outskirts of the relegation battle and Ballardini will be well aware three points on Saturday against Spal should all but ensure Serie A survival for the hosts.
Spal looking up
Relegation-threatened Spal pitch up at the Marassi unbeaten in four (W2-D2-L0), including a memorable 0-0 draw against table-topping Juventus last time out. Head coach Leonardo Semplici’s troops heeded his inspiring pre-match team talk and produced a wholehearted performance in front of a raucous crowd at the Stadio Paolo Mazza.
Spal never looked like breaching a Juve defense that is yet to give up a league goal in 2018, but nor did they often risk conceding against the nation’s most prolific attack. It was a defiant display, epitomized by the work put in by the middle trio of Pasquale Schiattarella, Jasmin Kurtic, and Alberto Grassi.
Having kept only two clean sheets from August to February, Spal recorded a second shutout in four games thanks to an excellent effort from their back three that swamped Juventus in the central areas and restricted the league leaders to scraps on the flanks.
For a club that has been out of Serie A for 50 years, to defy the winners of this league’s last six editions had to mean something more and boss Semplici – who’s guided the club to back-to-back promotions – is convinced it can be the catalyst for survival.
Tight encounter anticipated
Saturday’s showdown with Genoa could prove pivotal in their bid to stay in the top-tier and for neutrals, it could be a tough watch. Both outfits are now reliant upon their dogged defensive structure for results and the two are desperate to eke out any potential points in the offing.
With that in mind, it makes sense to oppose goals. Nine of Genoa’s past 11 on home soil have featured two goals or fewer, whilst their past five outings at the Marassi have yielded just six strikes in total. Meanwhile, four of Spal’s past five fixtures have produced no more than one goal.
With such low goal returns from the pair, a punt on Under 2 Goals appeals at 1.96. We’ll see our stake returned should exactly two goals be scored with profit made if the match sees a solitary goal or less scored on Saturday.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Under 2 Goals at 2.020
See @MarkOHaire‘s preview to get you started.