Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan
Sunday, December 16, 14:00 Hrs GMT
Milan overcame Reggina in the Coppa Italia match by a 3-0 margin with goals from Yepes, Niang and Pazzini setting up a mouth-watering Quaterfinal clash with Juventus. It seems Allegri has finally steadied the ship at Milan with their mini-revival continuing well into December. Only two matches remain this year with the last match against Roma.
Pescara have been the whipping boys of Serie A so far this season. After Inter defeated them by a 3-0 margin, Lazio repeated the same feat. Juventus and Napoli even bettered the record, putting in 6 and 5 goals respectively past their goal. However, in their previous match against fellow strugglers Genoa, they came out as 2-0 winners, which should give them some hope of survival.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Milan will be missing the likes of Pato, Traore, Didac Vila, Bonera and De Jong through injury. The latest player to join the season-long absentee list is De Jong, who collapsed on the field in the match against Torino. Since then, De Jong has had a successful surgery to repair his Achilles tendon; however, this injury will sideline him for six months. This has led to Galliani stating that Milan may search for his replacement in January.
Allegri will field a 4-3-3 formation in this match, which has been Milan’s most successful formation so far. Out of the six matches this formation was tried in, Milan was victorious in four matches with one loss and one draw. Although Milan have relied on individual brilliance to get them out of tough spots, they have committed numerous individual errors which has seen the opposition get on top of them time and time again. Possession-based football has been a boon for Milan as they now look to play the ball all over the field rather than lob it to the front-man. Milan Milan Milan
Amelia starts this match under the bars with the back-line formed by Abate on the right, Mexes and Yepes at central defence and De Sciglio at left-back. With Zapata and Acerbi on the reserve bench, there will be options for Allegri to rotate his central defensive pair should he choose to. The midfield will be formed by Montolivo on the right, Ambrosini through the center and Nocerino on the left. Montolivo has been a revelation this season and it was clearly visible when he was handed the captain’s armband. Nocerino’s goal deluge last season is looking like a freak statistic now and it can be clearly seen how badly he depended on Ibrahimovic.
The forward line sees the trio of Robinho on the right, Boateng through the center and El Shaarawy on the left. Inspite of numerous speculation for his return to Santos, Robinho is currently focused on his role in the team and is unlikely to leave Milan shores in January, as has been widely speculated. Boateng broke his ‘duck’ in the previous match after an astonishing 44 chances. Same time last season, he was pumping in goals from almost everywhere.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Amelia (GK); Abate, Mexes, Yepes, De Sciglio; Montolivo, Ambrosini, Nocerino; Robinho, Boateng, El Shaarawy
Pescara will be missing the likes of Blasi, Cosic, Colucci and Cascione for this match due to injury. Their season so far has been far from spectacular and they are currently locked in a relegation battle with Genoa, Siena and Palermo with three points separating the four teams. Vladimir Weiss has been their top player this season with three goals and his sublime performance in the match against Genoa is only going to wet the appetite of the fans.
After their promotion to Serie A this year, Pescara let go of Ciro Immobile to Genoa. However, with the club going through a crisis presently, there has been rumors of bringing back Immobile in January. It remains to be seen whether a fellow struggler will hand over Immobile to a rival. Pescara have tried as many as 8 formations this season with 4-3-2-1 and 4-4-2 being their most successful ones.
Even though Pescara like to play an aggressive brand of football, they lack the ability to finish properly. Their short passing game is effective but they cannot defend against skilled players. And even though they are extremely strong in scoring from direct free kicks, they are very weak in aerial duels as well as defending against through ball attacks.
Perin starts this match under the bars with the back-line formed by Balzano on the right and Modesto on the left. The duo of Terlizzi and Capuano will form the heart of the defence and will look to keep out the likes of El Shaarawy and Robinho. The midfield will be formed by the trio of Nielsen on the right, Bjarnason on the left and Togni playing through the center. Weiss plays as the trequartista in this match and is likely to move up the field as the game progresses. The attacking duo for this match will be Abbruscato and Vukusic.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-1-2): Perin(GK); Balzano, Terlizzi, Capuano, Modesto; Nielsen, Togni, Bjarnason; Weiss; Abbruscato, Vukusic
Player to Watch Out For
El Shaarawy (AC Milan)
In the absence of any leading strikers at Milan, Pazzini was brought in to fill the gaping void left after Ibrahimovic’s departure. However, it has been this 20-year-old who has grabbed headlines and is currently the leading goal-scorer in Serie A. Many a time, El Shaarawy has dragged Milan out of danger, sometimes even single-handedly. He has scored in almost every match he has played this season and is unlikely to stop scoring anytime soon.
AC Milan 2-0 Pescara
Milan’s mini revival will spur them on in this encounter and they should triumph over Pescara. The visitors are likely to offer little challenge, as they currently languish only two places from the bottom of the table. An easy victory is predicted for Milan with possible goals from El Shaarawy and Robinho.