San Siro, Milan
Saturday, October 19, 16:00 Hrs GMT
AC Milan will be looking to put their season back together with a victory over Udinese at home this weekend. After the loss to Juventus in the previous match, Milan will not want to slip further down the table this early in the season. The next few weeks is going to be a tough periof for Milan with matches against Udinese, Parma and Lazio lined up. If they are able to come out of October with at least two wins, they will count themselves real lucky.
Udinese, on the other hand, have had a topsy-turvy start to their season with losses peppered between a few victories. Interestingly enough, they are yet to win on the road this season. Their three away matches have yielded only 2 goals for them, whereas they have conceded as many as 6.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Milan will be missing the likes of Bonera, De Sciglio, Silvestre, Pazzini and El Shaarawy due to injury and Mexes and De Jong due to suspension. Milan have racked up quite a few number of suspensions so far this season and given the fact that the season has just started, this is not at all a good indication for the team and the players. Thankfully, Kaka and Birsa are free to play in this match. Although it was surmised that Silvestre will be available to play in this match, there has been no recent updates which suggests that he is likely to return to the first team next week.
Milan’s dismal start to the season has been compounded by the absence of key players and needless red cards. As if their loss to Juventus was not bad enough, they even lost to Ligue 2 side, Caen in the international break. Granted that Milan fielded a second string side in that match, the worst part was the margin of loss. Milan did have two of their ‘best’ central defenders(Mexes and Zaccardo) for this match, but that did not stop Caen from scoring. The only silver lining was the performance of the Brazilian keeper – Gabriel. Had it not been for his series of saves, Milan would have lost by a larger margin. Galliani immediately demanded an explanation for this appalling performance from Allegri and as per his response, it is likely that Milan will witness another formation change during this transfer window. With the arrival of Honda imminent, Milan might switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation with Kaka and Balotelli being a part of the ‘3’ and Pazzini playing on top.
Allegri will field a 4-3-1-2 formation for this match with Abbiati manning the posts. Their back-line will be formed by Abate on the right, Contant on the left with Zaccardo and Zapata forming the central defensive pair. Mexes will be out for 4 matches after he punched Chiellini in their previous encounter – an action which leaves horribly exposed at the back. Other than these two, the club now has only Vergara who can claim a starting berth. The midfield will see the likes of Poli playing on the right, Muntari playing on the left with Montolivo pulling the strings from the middle of the park.
Kaka is likely to return to the starting line-up and he will feature as the trequartista for this match. The forward line will be formed by Balotelli and Robinho. Matri did have his fair share of chances in Balotelli’s absence but sadly did not capitalize on them and now, after his return, could see an extended spell on the bench.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-1-2): Abbiati(GK); Abate, Zaccardo, Zapata, Constant; Poli, Montolivo, Muntari; Kaka; Balotelli, Robinho
Udinese will be missing Brkic for this match due to injury. Also, Luis Muriel might be missing this match due to injury – although that is not certain at this point of time. Francesco Guidolin has quite a task on his hands and the recent furore over the match being played behind closed doors adding to that. After Milan’s loss to Napoli, their ultras were blamed for anti-Neapolitan chants and as a result, a ban was imposed. After a lengthy debate as what is to be considered as racism and what should be treated as regional banter, the decision to play the match behind closed doors has been postponed currently. Although this means that once the decision is reached, Milan might be penalized, the fans can at least hope to see a full stadium for the upcoming match.
Milan are likely to score early on in this match, as was seen in their previous match against Juventus. However, their inability to defend set-pieces will come back to haunt them – something Udinese will try to exploit this weekend. Udinese did have their customary slow start to the season but they have been horrible away from home. So much so, they have been on the losing side both at half-time and full-time in all of their three away matches this season. Udinese are very strong in scoring from set-pieces and they are likely to score from at least one dead-ball scenario. However, they are weak aerially and also tend to foul in important areas of the pitch.
Udinese will deploy a 3-4-2-1 formation for this match wil Kelava under the bars. The three-man back-line will be formed by Heurtaux on the right, Naldo on the left with Danilo playing through the center. The midfield sees the likes of Basta on the right, Gabriel Silva on the left with Badu and Allan being the central midfield pair. A lot will depend on Allan in this match, and he has been Udinese’s best player so far this season. Di Natale will play the lone forward and he will be supported by Pereyra and Maicosuel in the final third.
Probable Starting Line-up (3-4-2-1): Kelava(GK); Heurtaux, Danilo, Naldo; Basta, Badu, Allan, Gabriel Silva; Pereyra, Maicosuel; Di Natale
Player to Watch Out For
Mario Balotelli (Milan)
After his extended period on the sidelines due to suspension, Balotelli will be itching to get back to his goal-scoring form as soon as possible. His unwarranted red card meant that Milan faced Juventus without his services. Milan decided to punish the forward for his atrocities and did not appeal for the ban on the player. Although their actions meant that Milan were without their key striker for few matches, Balotelli will think twice now before doing something this stupid. He got on the score-sheet during this international break and rescued a point for Italy with his late equalizer against Armenia. In the upcoming match against Udinese, Balotelli will be looking to continue his form and take Milan to the top of Serie A.
Milan 2 – 1 Udinese
Milan did not have the best of starts to the season once again this season but they can take heart from the fact that their initial few matches have provided better results than the same time last year. Udinese lie 2 points ahead of them and facing them at home, Milan will surely look to take all three points on offer and climb up the Serie A ladder.
Blast From The Past