Having seen their ascent of the Serie A standings halted by a recent winless run, Genoa host fellow mid-table outfit Udinese on Saturday evening, aiming to pull further clear of the drop zone with a win.
Their Friulian visitors, however, will feel justifiably confident of adding another success to a number of positive results in recent weeks.
Following a 1-0 reverse at high-flying Roma last weekend, Genoa have seen their late-February trend of decline continue, as a previously exceptional record under re-hired coach Davide Ballardini has started to falter in recent weeks.
Managing just three draws in their last five outings - though their only defeats in that run were to Inter and Roma - the Grifone have now slipped to within seven points of the dreaded dotted line. Ballardini, nonetheless, insists his side should be looking upwards instead, with a top half finish still feasible in a tightly-packed table.
Genoa are, however, some five points adrift of Saturday's visitors, against whom - like previous opponents Roma - they have a particularly fruitless record of late.
Currently without a win in their last nine Serie A games against Udinese - losing six - the Ligurian outfit's offensive output has dulled after a hot streak either side of the winter break in which striker Mattia Destro could hardly stop scoring.
Tallying a meagre three goals over their past five matches, theirs is the third-least effective attack in the league - faring better than only Parma and Benevento. However, since Ballardini stabilised team selection and reinvigorated his new charges, things have improved at the other end.
Second only to Udinese of all the clubs in the bottom half of the standings in terms of goals conceded this term - and with just eight goals let in during their past nine outings - Genoa have given their long-suffering fans cause to hope for a stress-free finish to the 2020-21 campaign.
Shooting up the Serie A form table - with a recent record comparable to that of Roma, Napoli, Lazio and former leaders Milan - a sluggish first half of the season has been all but forgotten by a much-improved Udinese side.
In fact, since the start of the second half of this unpredictable campaign, the Zebrette have gleaned 14 points in seven matches and only Inter and Juventus have picked up more points in that period.
Having previously held Milan to a draw at San Siro, the Bianconeri were 2-0 winners at home to Sassuolo last weekend - despite having just 28% of the ball. While Roberto De Zerbi's team prize possession at all costs, Luca Gotti's men were content to soak up pressure and strike once at the end of each half.
Now unbeaten in four, having also downed Verona and Fiorentina in preceding fixtures - while only Jens Stryger Larsen's inexplicable last-minute handball at San Siro prevented them earning a famous victory there - Udinese are firmly in the ascendancy.
Gotti's men do still have a glaring flaw in their armoury though, as ahead of their trip to Genoa, they are winless in seven of their last eight league games away from home.
To overcome that concerning trend, they will again lean on the undoubted creative talents of captain Rodrigo De Paul, who has scored five times in nine matches against the Grifone – remarkably, each of them coming from outside the box - and this week's hosts are, statistically at least, his favourite opponent of all in Serie A.
First-choice goalkeeper Mattia Perin remains a serious doubt for the home side on Saturday, so his experienced deputy Federico Marchetti may have to continue as Genoa's last line of defence. Meanwhile, centre-forward Mattia Destro and defender Andrea Masiello are both absent through suspension.
Though Davide Biraschi is close to recovery after a shoulder injury, he is not yet ready to feature for Davide Ballardini's side, while veteran forward Goran Pandev is still a concern after sitting out the Roma game with a back problem.
Udinese centre-back Samir is currently nursing a thigh strain, so will be unavailable for the trip to the Marassi, while Stefano Okaka - whose entire season has been disrupted by injuries - wide man Thomas Ouwejan, and forward Gerard Deulofeu are all struggling to make the weekend squad.
Nahuel Molina has superseded previous regular Marvin Zeegelaar on the left flank of late and should hold off stiff competition from the Dutchman for his place, with either Ilija Nestorovski or Roberto Pereyra starting in support of Fernando Llorente up front.
Genoa possible starting lineup:
Marchetti; Goldaniga, Radovanovic, Criscito; Zappacosta, Strootman, Badelj, Zajc, Czyborra; Scamacca, Shomurodov
Udinese possible starting lineup:
Musso; Becao, Nuytinck, Bonifazi; Molina, De Paul, Arslan, Walace, Stryger Larsen; Pereyra; Llorente
We say: Genoa 1-1 Udinese
Goals are likely to be few and far between in this meeting of two well-drilled teams who owe their mid-season improvements primarily to excellent endeavour by their respective rearguards.
Genoa's trend of drawing rather than converting opportunities for maximum points could continue, as they set up similarly to Udinese and both are short of strikers in form.
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