Renato Dall’Ara, Italy
September 1st 2012, 18:45 GMT
Bologna have got off to a bad start this season, losing to Chievo on matchday 1. While their performance in that match was ordinary to say the least, what made it worse was the straight red to Diego Pérez in the dying moments of the match. Pellisier, who had made life miserable for Bologna, was the victim of a professional tackle and the referee deemed it strong enough to produce a straight red. Bologna last won an opening day fixture in 2008, when they defeated Milan by a margin of 2-1.
Milan, on the other hand, too started off their campaign badly as they lost at home to Sampdoria, the newly promoted club. This was the first time in four years that Milan lost an opening day fixture; their last defeat being in 2008, when they lost to Bologna. Although Milan did not deserve the loss, the final outcome resulted in more frustration for Allegri, who now has to win this game at all costs. While there is the possibility of Nigel de Jong joining Milan before the transfer window closes, for now Allegri has to change his formation in this match.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Bologna will be missing the likes of Riverola, Radakovic and Krhin through injury. Pérez will miss this match due to suspension while Portanova will return in February. In their previous match, Pellisier ran havoc through their defence line-up and had it not been for his misses in front of goal, the margin of defeat would’ve been even higher. Their passing at the back needs to improve a lot and against Chievo, only Cherubin was able to make successful passes from the back. Bologna is likely to seal a deal with Michele Pazienza, who rarely saw any first-team action with Juventus during his brief stay at Turin.
Bologna will start with a 3-5-1-1 formation, with Agliardi manning the posts. The back-line sees the combination of Carvalho on the right, Antonsson at the center and Cherubin on the left. Bologna will try to add more bodies in midfield and is likely to go with a five-man midfield against Milan. Motta will start on right of midfield, with Morleo playing on the left flank. The three men at the center of midfield will be Pulzetti, Taider and Guarante. Among these five players, only Taider and Motta performed in the previous match with Motta impressing in particular. He was never dispossessed and made two key passes in the game. Taider, on the other hand, was dispossessed the most but he did manage a shot on goal.
The forward line is broken down into two levels, with Diamanti playing behind Acquafresca. The forward duo relies more on long balls rather than playing on the ground, as was seen in their previous match. Acquafresca had a quiet game by his standards and against Milan, he will be looking to return to his devastating best. Having scored as many as 17 goals last season, he will be itching to get off the mark as soon as possible.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-1-1): Agliardi (GK); Carvalho, Antonsson, Cherubin; Motta, Pulzetti, Taider, Guarente, Morleo; Diamanti; Acquafresca
Milan will be missing the likes of Abate, Robinho, Pato, Strasser, Didac Vila and Muntari due to injury. Hardly a match has been played and the forward line of Milan has been depleted of its two most important players this season. Robinho sufferred an injury to his right thigh and this is likely to keep him out of action for atleast a month. Although Abate has returned and he is currently training separately, he will not feature in this match. Also, with the Champions League fixtures coming up soon, Allegri will look to reduce these niggling injuries as much as possible.
After his fixation with the 4-3-1-2 formation for close to two years, Allegri was forced to alter his formation in the last match as he fielded a 4-3-3 for the first time. Milan has been pretty active on the transfer market of late, bringing in M’Baye Niang and Bojan Krkic on a loan deal. Although both of these signings have been done keeping in mind the recent spate of injuries in the striker department, they are unlikely to feature in this match. Also, with rumors of De Jong joining soon, Allegri might be desperate to revert to his 4-3-1-2 formation as soon as possible. Against Bologna, Abbiati will start under the bar with De Sciglio, Yepes, Bonera and Antonini forming the back-line.
The defence line will look inexperienced and with the influx of new faces, it will take time before the back two gel. Acerbi, who joined in the summer, will need time to cement his spot. The same cannot be said of Zapata, who has enough Serie A experience. Flamini, who missed a golden opportunity to score against Sampdoria, is expected to start on the right of midfield with Nocerino starting on the left. Montolivo will dictate play from the center of the field. With the departure of Cassano, Milan only have Montolivo to spark any sort of creativity in midfield. Needless to say, there is no player to feature in the ‘1’ position in 4-3-1-2. Allegri needs the 4-3-3 system to work for him this season. That too, badly. Milan
Boateng was played as a trequartista in the previous match and it was a failure to say the least. Not only did he hold on to the ball for long periods of time, he also lost possession up the field. The signing of Bojan Krkic will allow Pazzini to play through the center, while the former plays on the left. In this match, Pazzini will start at the center, with El Shaarawy on the left. Playing as a right-sided forward in this match will be Boateng, which only goes to show how much depleted Milan are presently.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Abbiati (GK); De Sciglio, Yepes, Bonera, Antonini; Flamini, Montolivo, Nocerino; Boateng, Pazzini, El Shaarawy
Player to Watch Out For
Giampaolo Pazzini (AC Milan)
With the total lack of strikers at Milan, it will be up to the ex-Nerazzurri to take up the mantle of scoring, in the absence of Robinho and Pato. The next month is a golden opportunity for him to seal his place in the Milan starting line-up. Faced with Bologna, Pazzini will have ample chances to get score his first goal for the red side of Milan. Pazzini has not regained optimum fitness yet but it can be expected he will step up and perform in this match. Milan fans will be waiting for his two-finger celebration come the end of the match.
Bologna 0-2 AC Milan
Milan will be looking for their first league win this season as they take on Bologna. Allegri has tinkered with the formation after a long time and it will take time for Milan to adapt to it. However, Bologna is least likely to pose any threat to Milan, despite their opening day loss. A Milan victory is on the cards with Pazzini on the score sheet.