February 20, 2011, 14:00 GMT
After the shock loss to Tottenham Hotspur, in UEFA Champions League, the Rossoneri would be on the lookout to consolidate their position at the top of Serie A, when they face Chievo. Milan is currently in the most crucial phase of their entire season, with the outcome of the next 4 matches to decide their fate for any silverware. A fixture against Chievo, away from home, is always a tricky situation; however, Milan would have to return to winning ways sooner rather than later.
Chievo, on the other hand are coming off a 4-1 loss to Cagliari. But on the brighter side for them, Chievo has not lost at home after the 1-0 loss to Lazio in late September. Even though they are a mid-table team, they have held their own against the big names of Serie A, namely Juventus, Internazionale and Roma.
Team News and Tactical Brief
The first and foremost thing on Milan’s mind would be to make amends for Tuesday’s 1-0 home loss to Tottenham. The game against Chievo will be a homecoming for Mario Yepes, who spent two years at Chievo before moving to Milan. With most of Milan’s winter signings being cup-tied, Allegri would like to utilize those players as much as possible in the League. In his press-conference earlier, he highlighted how the return fixture against Chievo is different from the first one. For one, Pirlo is no longer there in the team due to injury and Ronaldinho has moved on to Brazilian shores. The last time Milan met Chievo, it was about re-asserting themselves as title contenders, which they did when they won 3-1. However, considering Milan’s last match performance in the league, Chievo could be in for a long night. Milan thrashed Parma 4-0. Most of the damage was done by Cassano – a goal and two lovely assists.
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat” – Sun Tzu. Like in the last match, Milan needs to go into this game with a plan in mind – the plan to win and win big. Starting formation and also the players would be playing on Allegri’s mind. Van Bommel would be back, so would Cassano and Merkel. There might be a selection problem as to who should play in central defense alongside Nesta, with both Thiago and Yepes fit and raring to go. If all of the above three should feature, that would mean Van Bommel moving up in midfield and Seedorf starting from the bench. But, in all probability, Yepes would most likely come into the game as a second half substitute for Nesta. Thankfully for the Rossoneri, Abbiati only suffered a concussion in the last match against Spurs and would be back for this match. With Vila not called up for the 21 man squad, it will be Emanuelson, who will come on as a second half substitute. Integrating these new players into the team is a priority for Allegri if he hopes to lay his hands on the Scudetto in the 25th year of Berlusconi’s presidency.
Probable Starting Line-up: Abbiati (GK), Abate, Nesta, Silva, Antonini, Van Bommel, Gattuso, Merkel, Robinho, Ibrahimovic, Cassano
Chievo coach Stefano Pioli has been looking ahead to the match against Milan and said, “Milan are the strongest side in the league. They have the best defense and the best attack but we will find the motivation from within. On paper they should win but we are starting goalless, it is eleven against eleven and we are at home. We will have to put in a great performance and we will have to have the desire to suffer.” The hosts are without suspended defenders Gennaro Sardo and Davide Mandelli. In their last match against Cagliari, the Flying Donkeys were almost white-washed before Thereau got a consolation goal to finally put Chievo on the scoresheet. The lackluster display meant that Chievo are currently on 11th position in the league table, a mere 9 points from the drop zone.
Probable Starting Line-up: Sorrentino (GK), Frey, Cesar, Morero, Mantovani, Fernandes, Rigoni, Constant, Guana, Pellisier, Thereau
1. The last time a Milan striker scored at the Bentegodi stadium was way back in 2004.
2. Chievo has lost at home only twice this season so far.
3. Ibrahimovic has failed to find the back of the net in the last four occasions, with his last goal coming against Catania in the 2-0 victory.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Antonio Cassano (Milan)
He finally came into his elements in the last match against Parma. Alongwith brisk passing, he was a constant threat on the Parma goal and he also set up each of Robinho’s goals. Being an exceptionally talented player, he has gelled well with the Milan front line and it looks like it will be pretty busy at the back for the Chievo defense.
Chievo Verona 0 – 2 AC Milan
A tough and a dangerous game for the Rossoneri. It will be also be kind of physical, so stretchers might become the order of the day. But, if Milan manage to return home with all three points, it will be one step closer to the 18th Scudetto for them.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST
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