Via del Mare
January 16, 2011, 19:45 GMT
AC Milan head into this away fixture at Via del Mare looking to extend their lead at the top of the table. Last week, they were at the receiving end, losing 1-3, before Cassano came on as a substitute and Milan eventually drew the game 4-4.
Lecce started the second half of the season on a bright note, defeating 3rd placed Lazio in their very first encounter after the Christmas break. But this week they come up against a much tougher opponent in the form of the Winter Champions.
Team News and Tactical Brief
The last time these two sides met, the men in red and black thumped the Giallorossi four goals to nil. Udinese almost shocked them in their last match before Milan regained normalcy in the last few minutes to come out of the game with a point. This week, Allegri has called up Nesta and Flamini for training and their much-awaited return from injury will be a welcome sign for Milan as they slowly head into a tough February, with the Champions League fixture against Tottenham coming up. Today Milan had a practice session for an hour after which coach Allegri named his squad. Cassano this week has stated that Milan would most probably be the last team that he plays for. Stating that his best is yet to come, he asked for 25 days to regain full fitness and be at the top of his game, after being sidelined for a considerable time last year.
Allegri is going to stick to his tried and tested formation of 4-3-1-2 in which Robinho would operate just behind the two strikers, Pato and Ibrahimovic. Cassano may come on as a second half substitute should things get too tough in the middle. Ambrosini could very well return into the thick of the action after missing out last week. Should he play, then young Merkel would have to start from the bench. Gattuso would start from his usual right side position. The defence will comprise of Abate, Bonera, Silva and Antonini. Nesta can be given a run in the later stages but he is most likely to be preserved for this game. Amelia would again be manning the posts.
Probable starting line-up: Amelia (GK), Abate, Bonera, Thiago Silva, Antonini, Ambrosini, Gattuso, Seedorf, Pato, Ibrahimovic, Robinho.
Lecce head into this encounter coming off a 1-2 victory over Lazio last weekend. Their morale would have been lifted even further by the news that striker David Di Michele has finally returned to the team after spending a month sidelined through injury. Lecce president had this to say – “The last time we faced AC Milan we lost 4-0 and I’m sure my players will be eager to avenge that defeat.” If Lecce can pull off a draw tomorrow, it will be seen as a huge achievement, given their current position in the league. Lecce is likely to start with a 4-1-2-1-2 formation with Tomovic, Gustavo, Da Silva and Mesbah in defense, Vives playing the “Makelele-role”, Munari and Grossmuller in the midfield. Bertolacci is most likely to start in the central attacking midfielder role and Jeda and the returning Di Michele would form the forward line. Rosati will be manning the posts once again in this match.
Probable starting line-up: Rosati (GK), Tomovic, Gustavo, Da Silva, Mesbah, Vives, Munari, Grossmuller, Bertolacci, Jeda, Di Michele.
1. Lecce has the worst goal-difference in this league thus far in the season: -18.
2. The last time Milan lost an away game was way back in September, against Cesena.
3. Milan currently has the most number of wins in the league, with 12 wins against just 5 for Lecce.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
No time to waste!
Antonio Cassano (Milan): He has been turning heads with his performances in the last couple of games, and this could very well be the match in which he gets his first goal in a Rossoneri shirt. He has settled down pretty fast and we expect him to get into the score sheet with equal aplomb.
Lecce 0-3 AC Milan
With Milan going all out, it will be difficult to contain the three-pronged attack of Robinho-Pato-Ibrahimovic. There is also a very real threat of Cassano, who would be eager to make a big impact in this match. On paper, this is a tricky away encounter for Milan, but in reality they should be able to win it easily.
TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST