Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy
26th October 2010, 00:15 Hrs, IST
After a heartbreak at the Bernabeu, Milan travel to the city of Naples on Monday to face the Parthenope. Walter Mazzari’s side must be kicking themselves after they played a goalless draw against Liverpool in the Europa League. AC Milan on the other must be desperate to close in on Lazio who went 5 points clear after beating Cagliari 2-1 today. The Rossoneri are in a spot of bother with injuries to Ronaldinho and Thiago Silva and would be hoping that Inter drop some points against Sampdoria.
Manager Max Allegri has given an ultimatum to all the players. He has clearly stated that no one in the Milan line-up can take his place for granted. Milan were washed away by Real Madrid earlier this week and his selections have raised some eye brows in the media. He has favoured Seedorf and Gattuso over the likes of Boateng, who has quickly become the fan favourite and Frenchman Flamini who has fully recovered now. The writing is on the wall for the fans. Allegri was being pressurized to play the “old timers” and this is a clear message from the two time “Silver Bench” winner that this persistence cannot be misread as favouritism. Seedorf and Gattuso might find it hard to earn a start in Naples. Injuries have always been an integral part of this Milan team and the absence of Ronaldinho is bound to disturb the team balance. An injury to Abate might be a blessing in disguise as this will mean that Bonera will replace Zambro which gives Sokratis a chance to accompany Nesta in the centre of defence. Robinho has showed his ability to be dynamic but whether he can flourish in the absence of R80 or not, remains to be seen.
Diavolo’s position on the table does not give a fair idea of the problems that the team is facing. They were shown the harsh reality by Mourinho’s men in Madrid and even the victories they managed in the league were tricky barring the initial drubbing of Lecce. The way they have fared against the lesser known teams has not gone unnoticed. After signing the “hot shots” Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani must be wondering what is it that they need to do in order to gain the respect Milan once had.
The ever attacking 4-3-3 has not worked and this might be a good chance for Allegri to start with the dreaded Christmas tree which has been abandoned since Carlo Ancelotti’s days. Pirlo playing deep with support from Boateng and Flamini is his best option that is if he decides not to go for Seedorf. Ibrahimovic will also be tested in this formation as he will have to play the lone striker and Robinho and Pato will need to feed him.
The Danger Man- El Matador
Edinson Cavani is the man that Napoli will be banking on tomorrow. The Uruguayan who was signed on a loan bid from Palermo has already scored 6 goals in the season and is sharing top spot with Samuel Eto’o. The way his electrifying performance stunned Cesena is a reason enough for the Rossoneri to worry about. The Azzuri will be without their captain Paolo Cannavaro who is suspended. Milan think tank will also need to chalk out a strategy to contain the likes of Marek Hamsik and Lavezzi who can be a handful on their day.
Milan’s possible starting Line-up:
Abbiati, Bonera, Nesta, Sokratis, Antonini, Boateng, Pirlo, Flamini,Pato, Robinho, Ibrahimovic
Napoli’s possible starting Line-up:
De Sanctis, Grava, Aronica, Campagnaro, Maggi, Pazienza, Gargano, Dossena, Hamsik, Lavezzi, Cavani
Napoli 1-1 Milan
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
The talented Ghanaian has impressed in all the games he has played in Milan colours so far. His mobility has helped to connect the midfield with the forward line. Credit goes to him for becoming the fan favorite in such a short span of time. He must be excited about the warning given by Max Allegri for every player to earn his place as he has by far been the most enthusiastic of all Milan players and with Seedorf on the down side of his career, this match could be his best opportunity to be recognized as a permanent starter.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST