CATANIA

v

AC MILAN

Angelo Massimino
January 29, 2011, 19:45 GMT

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Sitting four points clear on top is AC Milan, who is currently on a signing spree, bringing in a total of three players. The players signed include the likes of former Barca midfielder Mark Van Bommel, Urby Emanuelson and Dídac Vilà from RCD Espanyol. The move to bolster the squad in the winter transfer market is a clever ploy on part of Mr. Galliani, and from the players that have been signed, it is pretty clear that the focus this season would be on the Scudetto.

Catania have not won in their last four encounters, three of them have ended in defeat. In their last match against Parma, they lost 2-0, even though it was a tight match which saw both the teams share exactly 50% of the possession.

Team news and Tactical Brief

AC Milan

The last time these two teams met in the league, the match ended 1-1, with the now injured Inzaghi being on the score sheet for the Rossoneri. As has been seen almost throughout this season, injuries and Milan go hand in hand. It is looking as if the injured bench would make a better team than the current crop. Recent joinees to that list include Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf, Alessandro Nesta and Andrea Pirlo. Even though in the midfield area, Milan have considerable cover, it is their defense that needs to be looked at. Recurring injuries to the most successful defensive pair this season, Nesta-Silva, have often left coach Allegri to resort to makeshift defensive pairs that have not yielded exactly the desired results. Milan may be drained out right now after playing in the Coppa Italia and Serie A simultaneously, but it will be their tenacity to pull through such trying times that may see them being crowned champions this time around.

Vam Bommel is scheduled to start this week along with Urby Emanuelson, but it remains to be seen if the youngster would be preferred ahead of Luca Antonini. On the forward line, there would be the ever reliant strike force of Ibrahimovic and Pato, with Robinho playing behind those two in what can only be termed as three-pronged attack, even though it looks like 1-2 formation on paper. The 4-1-2-1-2 formation would once again be back with Antonini, Yepes, Papastathopoulos and the unlikely face of Bonera in defense. It can only be termed of as a makeshift defense. Silva will play the “Makelele role”, which gives him the option to drop down to support the defense should they need occur. Van Bommel and Ambrosini would comprise the midfield in the absence of Gattuso. Merkel and Emanuelson is likely to come into the match in the second half only, along with Cassano, who has impressed everyone with his “team-first” attitude.

Probable starting Line-up: Abbiati(GK), Antonini, Yepes, Papastathopoulos, Bonera, Silva, Ambrosini, Van Bommel, Pato, Ibrahimovic, Robinho.

Catania

Catania coach, Diego Simeone has urged his team to take advantage of Milan’s injury predicament by registering an elusive win over the Rossoneri. “We made too many sloppy mistakes and I can’t allow that” said Simeone, who replaced Marco Giampaolo last week. A single instance of drop in concentration can be very deadly in this league, as was seen last week against Parma. With just a single win in their last 8 encounters, Catania lie fifth from the bottom in the table and it looks like they will be fighting to stay in the league, at the end of the season. Catania would go into this match with the formation of 4-2-3-1, with Augustyn, Silvestre, Spolli and Capuano making the four man defense. Sciacca and Ledesma would comprise of the midfield supporting the front trio of Gomez, Ricchiuti and Mascara. The lone striker would be Maxi Lopez.

Probable starting Line-up: Andujar(GK), Augustyn, Silvestre, Spolli, Capuano, Sciacca, Ledesma, Gomez, Ricchiuti, Mascara, Maxi Lopez.

Key Facts

1. Catania has won only twice in their last nine league matches.

2. Ibrahimovic is Milan’s leading goal-scorer till now with 12 strikes so far.

3. Catania is Diego Simeone’s first European club that he has managed till date.

TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR

Antonio Cassano(AC Milan): Even though he has not been able to get on the score-sheet, he has conjured up three magical assists coming from the bench. His ability to gel with Robinho and Ibrahimovic up front has worked wonders for Milan.

TheHardTackle’s PREDICTION

Catania 0 – 2 AC Milan

Even though Milan go into this match with a long injury list, they should be able to come out unscratched. It will be an intense match and if Milan is able to maintain their focus and concentration for long periods, it would mean another three points.

TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST