San Siro, Milan
December 18, 2010 – 01:15 IST
The Rossoneri are all set to host La Maggica in the 17th week of Serie A at the Giuseppe Meazza. Allegri’s men are high on a seven game unbeaten run after drubbing Bologna in their last league encounter and they would want to end the year with a win. The Roman Giants are 10 points adrift of the current leaders and their Scudetto hopes will be in a jeopardy if Milan continue with their ruthless demeanor.
The odds favor Milan as their home record has been impeccable – they have triumphed six times out of eight on home turf this season. Roma, on the other hand, have a terrible record playing away from home as they have won once out of eight games played. A sold out San Siro will witness another enticing contest before the long winter break.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Max Allegri is a nervous wreck on the eve of this clash. Throughout this season he has had to make crucial tactical changes in order to see Milan at the summit. He will have to be on his toes yet again as the team’s balance is in a crisis. The bodies of some of the ageing veterans have started to surrender and the latest to join the ever growing injury list are Rino Gattuso and Luca Zambrotta. Replacing the full back will not be an issue for Allegri, but with reference to Flamini’ s absence, the midfield composition looks dicey. The best option that Allegri has is another inert veteran who has a tendency to park himself on the pitch and refuses to move. Clarence Seedorf will have to replace Rino and it is needless to say how pathetic it can be to see Pirlo and the Dutch in tandem.
Too much to think.
Milan are looking stronger than ever in terms of their attack as Robinho has found a new lease of life at Milan and has developed a great chemistry with Ibracadabra upfront. Allegri has been playing Prince Boateng as the attacking midfielder and this gamble has paid off so far as the Ghanaian has opened up the scoring for the Rossoneri in their previous two encounters and formed a great partenship with Ibra and Robinho. His efficiency to create something still remains doubtful and it might not be such a good idea to play him there against a quality outfit like Roma, especially with Seedorf around. So the big question still remains unanswered – who will play as a Trequartista? One name that comes to mind is Ronaldinho but even when Milan were leading 3-0 against Bologna, the Brazilian was not brought on; it gives a clear cut picture of how R80’s days are numbered at Milan.
Milan is likely to field 4-3-1-2 which is the new 4-3-3. Defence looks secure with Nesta and Bonera manning the central guard. Christian Abbiati has often been ignored for appreciation but he has been in terrific form and has only conceded twelve goals thus far, the least in the league. Boateng will start behind Ibra and Robinho and Zambro is expected to be replaced by the ever enthusiastic Luca Antonini. With the way Pirlo made a comeback in the last game it could be fascinating to see him play as an architect rather than crumbling behind the midfield trying to break play. Allegri will have to ensure that he somehow keeps Seedorf and Pirlo far from each other otherwise a disaster awaits the Milan fans.
Probable starting Line-up: Abbiati(GK), Abate, Nesta, Bonera, Antonini, Pirlo, Ambrosini, Seedorf, Boateng, Ibrahimovic, Robinho.
The Giallorossi have manged to upset the Rossoneri at the San Siro off late winning two out of the three times they have faced Milan on their home ground. Claudio Ranieri has kept his Scudetto ambitions no secret and is well aware that his campaign will be more or less over if Milan manage to win this one. They have plenty of reasons to believe they can take away full three points from this clash, as they have quality players like Totti at their disposal, and also Borriello, who will be yearning to play against the club which gave him up on loan after labelling him as a “surplus”. Ranieri is also likely to field the same 4-3-1-2 as his counterpart.
Pizarro and De Rossi will be at command in the midfield and will look to take advantage of the gaps that Milan tends to offer in a counterattack. The Romans will be without goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont and Mirco Vucinic is a doubtful starter for this game.
AS Roma has been the champion killer this season. They have succesfully beaten the likes of Inter and Lazio and Max Allegri will have to roll all his dices against Ranieri and his men as his Roman counterpart will not shy away from an opportunity to settle for a stalemate.
Probable starting Line up: Doni(GK), Cassetti, Mexes, Juan, Castellini, Simplicio, DeRossi, Pizarro, Menez, Borriello, Totti
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Zlatan Ibrahimovic(AC Milan): The way he is playing, it would be no surprise to see his name feature in this section. The Swede has led the Milan attack with character and is the second highest goal scorer in the league with 9 goals. There is no denying the fact that whenever he scores, Milan wins and if Ibracadabra goes wild again, the Romans will have no choice but to surrender.
AC Milan 2-1 As Roma
Roma has played well in big matches this season but considering the form AC Milan are in at the moment, it would be hard to get past them. There are leaks in the Milan defence and in all probability they will concede but presently the quality of their attack is way too hot to handle.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST