Stadio Olimpico, Rome
May 7, 2011, 18:45 GMT
Milan are slowly and surely cruising towards their first Scudetto since 2004. And when they visit Roma this weekend, the only thing in their mind would be one single point. A point that will give them the prize that they deserve; a point that will give them the chance to equal Internazionale’s record of 18 Scudettos. Last weekend, they had a chance to show their increasing superiority in the league, but they instead chose to play it safe after getting the early goal.
Roma, on the other hand are not exactly on top of their game at the moment, losing two of their last five games, against Juventus and Palermo. However, their fighting spirit can never be ignored as was seen in their last match against Bari. Two men down, they fought tooth and nail and once more the legendary status of Totti was re-established in that match.
Team news and tactical brief
Roma has proved time and again that they can never be ignored. Even when all the chips are down, they have found it within themselves to back themselves and come out stronger. Even though coach Montella is seven years junior to Allegri, he is an expert when it comes to Roma, having won the league with them in 2001. Although this rivalry lacks the intensity of Derby della Madonnina or Derby della Capitale, it has its own special edge. One major absentee in this match would be De Rossi, who is serving his time-out following his red card against Bari last weekend. A rush of blood led him to elbow an opponent which might come back to haunt Roma in all the wrong ways. Like De Rossi, Perotta is also serving his three match ban and would be unavailable.
Roma is likely to field a 4-2-3-1 formation with their captain Totti literally leading from the front. The back four of Cassetti, Burdisso, Juan and Riise is likely to have their hands full in trying to contend the three pronged attack that Milan offers. Two defensive midfielders in the form of Brighi and Pizzaro would bring stability to the back four should Riise go on one of his rampaging runs. This tactic might leave the Roma midfield devoid of players and also possession and this could be one area where Milan would like to capitalize on.
Probable starting Line-up: Doni(GK), Casseti, Burdisso, Juan, Riise, Pizzaro, Brighi, Taddei, Simplicio, Vucinic, Totti.
The last time these two teams met in the League, the side from Rome defeated the Rossoneri one-nil in their very backyard, San Siro. Revenge will be very much on the mind of Allegri as he plots to hunt down the Romans at their home. He sounded confident after their win over Bologna and even Milan owner Berlusconi said “I hope we can celebrate very soon and I believe it will happen. We need a point and not to achieve that in our last three games would be very unlucky”. With all the hype surrounding Milan to secure the title by this weekend, it remains to be seen how Allegri fends off complacency and a team looking to fight for the fourth place in the league.
Ibrahimovic is certain to return to the starting lineup after serving out the mandatory ban following his second red card and he would be eager to add to his tally of goals this season. With his loan period almost over, whether Milan keeps him for one more season or pays the buy-out clause to Barcelona would be decided later this month. The injury to Pato gives Robinho once more chance to prove that he could actually score in front of goal, following his array of misses that has come to characterize his season so far. Even though Pirlo has returned to training, he has not been able to cement a first place position on a consistent basis and against Roma, it is expected that he is going to start from the bench. Boateng will resume his role of playing behind the front two strikers. In defense, the pair of Nesta and Thiago Silva will look to contain the Roman forwards. Allegri would field a 4-3-1-2 formation as he has been doing so far this season.
Probable starting Line-up: Abbiati(GK), Abate, Nesta, Thiago Silva, Zambrotta, Gattuso, Van Bommel, Seedorf, Boateng, Robinho, Ibrahimovic.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan): This is his return after a really long time. Milan has definitely missed him upfront but Pato has filled that void so far. With the “Duck” injured once more, Milan would look for some Ibra magic upfront.
Roma 1-2 Milan
This will be an exciting affair with both the teams looking to outdo each other in all departments. With Roma fighting for that last Champions League spot and Milan on the verge of their 18th Scudetto, this match has all the perfect ingredients to become a legendary one.