Stadio Fruili, Italy
September 24th 2012, 00:00 GMT
Udinese are having the worst start to their season. After the opening day loss to Juventus, they managed to draw against relegation fodders, Siena. Guidolin knows that his next opponent, Milan are wounded and almost out for the count, but he is still not counting them out just yet. Udinese will be looking to get their season back on track with the first victory of the season and they might get their wish if Di Natale fires.
Milan have got off to the worst possible start since 1930, and it should come as no surprise that they find themselves in the bottom half of the table. Allegri is under immense pressure to perform and if some rumours are to be believed, should he fail against Udinese, he might get the sack. Amid talks of a bust-up with Pippo Inzaghi, things are not all rosy for Allegri right now. He needs to get Milan back on winning ways or he might find an unpleasant surprise at the end of the match.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Udinese will be missing the likes of Badu, Hertaux, Muriel and Domizzi through injury and Lazzari through suspension. The absence of Muriel will be a big blow for Udinese as not only is he one of their best talents, but also he can inspire his side with goals when required. In both the matches this season, Udinese fared horribly – against Juventus, they were always on the back-foot and paid for it and against Siena, they threw away a two-goal lead to eventually draw the match. It is indeed difficult to ascertain who will come out on top on Sunday as both Udinese and Milan have it in them to produce something extraordinary and at the same time, succumb to the mildest of pressure from the opposition.
Udinese will be using their tried and tested 3-5-1-1 formation with Padelli manning the posts. The back-line sees Danilo at the heart of defence aided by Benatia on the right and Coda on the left. Even though they add bodies in the midfield, their usual formation becomes heavier on the left side of the pitch as the match progresses. Most of their attacks happens from the left as they aim to increase the width of the playing area as much as possible. Udinese are known to take long shots from the final third as well as create chances using through balls. However, they are very weak when it comes to keeping possession of the ball and also if the opposition attacks through the wings.
The midfield sees the likes of Pereyra and Willians supporting Pinzi at the center while Basta and Armero occupy the wings. The forward line will comprise of Barreto and on top of him, Di Natale.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-5-2): Padelli (GK); Benatia, Danilo, Coda; Basta, Pereyra, Pinzi, Willians, Armero; Barreto, Di Natale
Milan will be missing the likes of Bonera, Robinho, Pato, Strasser, Didac Vila and Muntari for this match due to injury. With Pato and Robinho on the sidelines, this is the ideal time for El Shaarawy and Bojan Krkic to consolidate their position in the squad. Although there has been talks of a possible transfer of Robinho in the winter transfer window, there are a lot of games to be played between now and then. Pato can be devastating on his day but his weak physique has led to innumerable injuries, which has not only hampered his, but also Milan’s progress over and over again. Milan Milan Milan
Allegri will field his favoured 4-3-1-2 formation for this match, knowing very well he has only one striker/target man upfront. El Shaarawy and Bojan are not out and out strikers by any stretch of imagination and M’Baye Niang still has a long way to go to seal his position in the first team. One possible combination that Allegri should try out will be to play both Pazzini and M’Baye Niang at the same time at the expense of El Shaarawy. Both these players are almost equal position-wise, and hence it will be interesting to see how they gel with each other. The lack of goals is a huge concern; something which Allegri needs to address as soon as possible.
The defence line sees the return of Abate and Mexes. Abate was sidelined for the initial part of the season through injury, a situation which led to the rise of De Sciglio. Now that he is back, Allegri has the added option of deploying De Sciglio as left-back should Antonini screw up once more. Strangely, there has been no news of Zapata since his arrival and it is indeed baffling why Allegri is keeping him under wraps. Allegri will be banking on the pair of Mexes and Yepes to hold the defence line and not concede stupid goals like they have done so far. Ambrosini returns as captain and he will be deployed as the defensive screen in front of the defence line. Montolivo is likely to start after making a successful return from injury while Nocerino will play on the left of midfield. Milan Milan
Last season, the Milan midfield outscored the forwards for the initial part of the season, but till now neither the midfielders nor the forwards has shown the same urgency or killer instinct. Boateng starts as trequartista once more, and should look to utilize his unbound energy to get free-kicks in the final third. The forwards line sees the pairing of Pazzini and El Shaarawy. In the previous match against Anderlecht, El Shaarawy sparkled and Milan fans will be hoping for more of the same from the young Pharaoh.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-1-2): Abbiati (GK); Abate, Mexes, Yepes, Antonini; Montolivo, Ambrosini, Nocerino; Boateng; Pazzini, El Shaarawy
Player to Watch Out For
Giampaolo Pazzini (AC Milan)
Pazzini has regained his goal-scoring form with Milan. After a frustrating season last year, he was given a lifeline when he moved to Milan in exchange of Cassano. Playing as the center forward, Pazzini gets into narrow positions easily although he is not a classical poacher. In order to reap maximum benefit from a player of such calibre, Allegri needs to direct his midfield to play the ball to him as often as possible. Although he is not in the mould of Zlatan, he still can be lethal when he is inside the box. Milan Milan Milan
Udinese 1-1 AC Milan
Milan will be looking to get their season back on track with a win at Fruili. After a horror of a start to the season, wherein they are yet to win a single game at home. Their last away game, however, ended with a Pazzini hattrick and Milan will be hoping for some more magic from the Italian. Udinese on the other hand, are a tough opponent at home, and will not give up without a fight.